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VIDEO: 2015 Lift For Life Day Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from several Nittany Lions and Assistant Athletic Director, Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt at the 2015 Lift For Life.


Kline, Uplifting Athletes Leading the Fight Against Kidney Cancer

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11212581.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the past 12 years, Uplifting Athletes, a Penn State Football player-run organization, has bonded together to lead the fight against kidney cancer.

To date, the group has raised more than $1 million for the Kidney Cancer Association since the first Lift For Life in 2003. A highlight on the summer calendar in Happy Valley, Uplifting Athletes hosts Lift For Life, a grueling test of physical and mental strength, on Saturday to benefit the kidney cancer awareness and research efforts.

Founded by Nittany Lion football teammates Scott Shirley, Dave Costlow and Damone Jones in 2003, Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes is led by current president and linebacker Ben Kline. Kline and his fellow officers are primed to host another tremendous event on Saturday.

"This is a culmination of a lot of hard work throughout the calendar year," Kline said. "This last push is pretty hectic, but it is really exciting. It is another year of great fundraising down. We are really excited to go out there and have a celebration with all of the fans for the work we have put in all year. We will raise some money and then make our donation to the Kidney Cancer Association. This is the best part of the year for Uplifting Athletes."

This year's event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field (located next to the Multisport Building). The Uplifting Athletes group has again placed an emphasis on fan interaction in 2015. Penn State fans will have an opportunity to meet the Nittany Lions on the field from 1-2 p.m. during a meet and greet and autograph session. Additionally, members of the squad will host a kids clinic on the field as the Lift For Life event takes place.

"It's really cool to have the kids on the field with us during the actual event," Kline said. "They enjoyed it so much last year. And hearing from the guys who ran the kids clinic last year, they had a blast, so it's just a fun, interactive way to get the kids involved with us on the field. It's good for all parties involved."


Lift For Life is the marquee event for the Uplifting Athletes group and the culmination of fundraising efforts for the year. It is circled by fans and members of the community each summer, but it is also a highlight for the members of the team, who jump at the opportunity to participate in the voluntary event.

"The community plays such a big role in this," Kline said. "People are always asking us how they can help and what our next event is because they genuinely care about the cause. And the guys on the team love being a part of this. That's what makes this so special. It makes our job easy."

All of the money raised by Uplifting Athletes goes directly to the Kidney Cancer Association and is earmarked for research. Since the first Lift For Life in 2003, eight new treatments have come to market as a direct result of the research dollars Uplifting Athletes has raised.

"It's been really cool for us to take our platform as Penn State football players and use it to directly affect the lives of people who need assistance," Kline said. "You have people who are living longer and living more fulfilling lives as a direct result of the work we have been able to do as football players."

In the heart of the summer workout season, the team will have an opportunity to showcase efforts and gains during the summer conditioning program. Saturday marks the only workout all year where the team competes in front of its loyal supporters. Saturday's event, led by Assistant Athletic Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt and his staff, will consist of six events before a tug of war at the center of the field. The competition will again pit the offense against the defense.

The list of events includes:
- 225-pound Bench Press Competition
- Dead Lift
- Sled Push/Pull
- Tire Flip
- Farmer's Hold (Who can hold 400 pounds the longest) New for 2015
- Obstacle Course

To donate to Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life, click the link listed below:

Donation Link



Parking Information for Lift for Life on Saturday, July 11
Visitor parking for the event will be available at Lot 44, located just east of the Bryce Jordan Center and accessible via Dauer Drive (from University Drive), Porter Road and Curtin Road.

With event parking sales for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in effect on Saturday, July 11, parking at Lot 44 will require payment of a $5 event parking fee (cash only) or display of a valid Penn State parking permit.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Commemorating 25 Years of Penn State and the Big Ten

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Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).



By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.

It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited to become a member in 1949.

The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would bridge a Midwestern league to the East.

The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.

Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten could foster.

"The Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week. "Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast, I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the time."

The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.

When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.

"I remember talking in front of the group about the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about at-large teams."

The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the classroom.

"From a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of the Big Ten."

The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.

"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."

It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.

"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno," Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"

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The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.

 
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost immediately.

"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs," Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that, we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten, collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."

At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.

"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was.  When you take a job, that is the job you took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."

The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field hockey program.

"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to be a first rate facility."

The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.

"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared," said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to be relevant."

Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92 Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally, more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten titles.

Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.

"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly 600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are immeasurable."

The women's volleyball program earned Penn State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative 16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA Championships since 1999.

Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.

The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0 record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships to date (2005 and 2008).

The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).

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Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.



It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated relationships with premier student-athletes.

"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we go out recruiting student-athletes."

A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes,  increased visibility across the country for the department in a way that cannot be measured.

"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and the sport."

The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased revenues for each institution.

"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.

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In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.

 

While the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success aids in the growth of the collective conference.

"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."

"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help one another out for the betterment of the conference.

"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."

Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.

A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.

"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the national scene."

Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks for itself.

By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote concluded 25 years ago today.


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The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten titles in March of 2011.





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VIDEO: James Franklin Press Conference at CVC Golf Outing

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin spent some time with the media on Friday at the 19th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament.



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2015 Coaches Caravan Day VI - Lehigh Valley & Wilkes-Barre

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Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Day IV Recap - Philadelphia & Langhorne | Day V Recap - New York & New Jersey

Photo Gallery - Lehigh Valley | Photo Gallery - Wilks-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300 enthusiastic Penn State fans.

More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May 3 in Harrisburg.

"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is unbelievable."

The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers. Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named "Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities on the road.

The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.


A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the Caravan.

And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states and the District of Columbia.

We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.


Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn Allentown - I-78)
caravan2015_LV_3.jpgcaravan2015_LV_1.jpgVideo: Lehigh Valley Press Conference



Stop No. 12 - Wilkes-Barre (F.M. Kirby Center)
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2015 Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Day VI - 270 miles

Caravan Total - 1,312 miles


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2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

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Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

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VIDEO: New York City Press Conference


Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

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Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Interview with John Donovan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach John Donovan talked with GoPSUsports.com during the Coaches Caravan stop in Lancaster to provide an update on recruiting and review spring practice from the offensive side of the ball. Take a look.





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2015 Coaches Caravan Day IV - Philadelphia & Langhorne

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Photo Gallery - Philadelphia | Photo Gallery - Langhorne

PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.

Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.

Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.

"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.

The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.

"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."

caravan2015_philly_1.jpgRose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.

"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."

Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.

"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."

Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.

"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.

All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.

"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.

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VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference




Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.

Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.

"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.

The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.

"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.

You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.

Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.

He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.


Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.

"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.

Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.

"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.

The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.
    

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VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video




Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles

Caravan Total - 935 miles


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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Interview with Bob Shoop

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Defensive coordinator and safeties coach Bob Shoop talked with GoPSUsports.com during the Coaches Caravan stop in Pittsburgh to provide an update on recruiting and review spring practice from the defensive side of the ball. Take a look.





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VIDEO: Remembering a Penn State Legend

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion community will not be the same without a man whose passion for Penn State bridged generations.

Fran Fisher, legendary voice of Penn State Football, leaves a legacy unlike most folks who have been connected to the University and its athletic department. Few individuals have been ambassadors for Penn State like Fisher was. His love for the University was unmatched. And his endearing persona made everyone feel inclusive.

A fixture in the first row of the back seats in the Beaver Stadium media room at weekly press conferences for head coaches Joe Paterno, Bill O'Brien and James Franklin, Fisher had an infectious presence about him that prompted anyone in the room to say hello.

The reporters, be it students or 20-year veterans on the football beat, all approached Fisher feeling as though they had known him for decades. Because that's how he made other individuals feel after a singular conversation.

The same was true on the practice fields adjacent to the Lasch Building. Fisher visited practice almost every day, never looking for attention, rather to check in on the people and program he loved. In the latter four years, the program's newest leaders, O'Brien and Franklin, made a beeline to see Fisher during practice. The same can be said for most of the student-athletes. Bare in mind that the current players on the team were born 40-plus years after Fisher began his broadcasting career in Greensburg (Pa.) in 1952, but Fisher's presence meant something to anyone on the practice field.

Often telling stories about games or reliving Coach Paterno tales, Fisher had a way of engaging a listener to make you feel part of the original event.

Certainly, Fisher's most famous calls, namely the final seconds of Penn State's first national title inside the Superdome against Georgia in 1983, will resonate with Penn State fans forever. But it's the type of person and ambassador Fisher was that will never be replaced.

The iconic voice of Penn State lived with the type of enthusiasm every day that everyone should aspire to attain.

Fran Fisher was a man who loved Penn State through and through.

The Penn State community's feelings for Fisher were one in the same.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony