STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - On Monday, in the middle of preparations for this week's game at Purdue, Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien got up, left the X's and the O's behind, and rushed over to introduce Sugar Ray Leonard as a speaker at a campus conference on childhood sexual abuse.
O'Brien's path was from the Lasch Building, where convicted sex abuser Jerry Sandusky committed so many horrible acts in the dark, to a packed meeting room in the light of day where Leonard could recount his own nightmares as a victim. In a way, it is the same road Penn State has had to take since Nov. 5, 2011, when the first indictments of Sandusky came down.
"It's really important to remember," O'Brien said later, "why we're in the situation we're in."
The first stunning reports came a year ago this weekend. Something about Jerry Sandusky, and kids, and Penn State.
Gina Camut was a Penn State fan, camping out for the weekend. "I was sick to my stomach, pretty much."
Carolyn Lasky was a Penn State junior, on retreat with one of her student organizations. "We started hearing reports, and none of us even knew who Jerry Sandusky was," she said. "As soon as you read it, you knew it was awful."
Authorities arrested Sandusky, a former longtime Penn State assistant football coach, on Nov. 5, 2011 and charged him with the sexual abuse of eight boys over a 16-year period dating to 1994. Two days later the school's athletic director and treasurer were arrested and charged with lying to a grand jury and failure to report Sandusky's abuse. Two days after that, the university's Board of Trustees fired school president Graham Spanier and coach Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, for their neglect in addressing Sandusky's conduct.
On June 22, a jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 of 48 counts of sex abuse of 10 boys, and on Oct. 9 a judge sentenced him to 30-60 years in prison. Between those court proceedings, the NCAA hit Penn State with unprecedented sanctions, including a $60 million fine and a four-year postseason football ban and the vacating of all football victories dating to 1998.
For Curtis St. John, former president of MaleSurvivor.org, an advocacy group for sexual abuse victims, the Sandusky charges immediately brought him back to his own nightmare as a victim. "This hit home for me because my abuser was a pillar of the community and an award-winning teacher," St. John said. "I knew exactly how big this was going to be."
Tom Fountaine was borough manager of State College, one of the local officials who heard the news and had no idea what lay ahead for his city, including a rowdy protest three blocks from his office the night Joe Paterno was fired.
"That Saturday morning last year, I don't think anyone could really foresee the full impact and how this story was going to unfold," Fountain said. "I don't know how you prepare for something of this magnitude, and all the things happened around it."
Linebacker Michael Mauti was with quarterback Matt McGloin in the football players' lounge on an off Saturday, unaware of how his world had changed, or how playing football for the Nittany Lions had suddenly placed him in the middle of national outrage and debate.
"We were just as shocked as the rest of the world," Mauti said. "People started calling us, asking what was going in. We were watching ESPN for updates, because we weren't getting anything from our coaches or the administration."
Dave Joyner, a member of the Penn State board of trustees, was just back from working as an orthopedic consultant at the Pan-American Games in Mexico. His wife told him the news. He soon left for emergency meetings.
"We were on fast-reaction mode," he said. "To use a medical analogy, you had some acute bleeding you had to stop, you had to stabilize the patient, but you didn't realize then how extensive the injuries were.
"I think the ripple effect is profoundly more than anyone could conceive of. If this had been stealing or embezzling, that would have been horrible enough. But when it involves young children, that takes your breath away."
Last weekend, when Penn State lost a football game to Ohio State, the stands were full, the roars were loud, the band played on. A record 1,200 students camped out in Nittanyville, the student tent city by the stadium known as Paternoville until this season.
It was a typical autumn Saturday. But Penn State stopped being typical a year ago. A school, a city, and most important, a group of victims are still dealing with Sandusky's actions.
"This is not a time yet to move on," said Tom Kline, attorney for the grand jury's designated Victim 5. "We are at the most important juncture for Penn State in this sorry tragedy - the time for them to come to financial, moral and legal terms with the young men whose victimization by Jerry Sandusky was enabled by its highest officials."
Said Ben Andreozzi, attorney for the man the grand jury referred to as Victim 4: "It's not all about the money. It's about acknowledgements, apologies and policy changes."
And that is why Penn State has begun hosting events such as the Child Sexual Abuse Conference, featuring Leonard. The first annual, of course.
From the vast fan RV parking lot on game day, to Nittanyville, to the city municipal building where Fountaine is still borough manager, and to the office where Joyner is now acting athletic director, you can find voices not about to forget one year ago, but also with a certain weariness.
Rob Magala and Scott Witham, friends who parked their RVs side by side at the Ohio State, talked about the year's events, one bad news twist after another.
"November happens, then you think, we're through it," Magala said. "Then Joe dies. More drama. Then the Freeh report comes out. When it's going to end?"
Witham said, "Penn State was like a swear word you can't say on TV."
Fifteen players left the football team since the NCAA announced penalties related to the scandal in July, but the team's record is a surprisingly good 5-3. There is still a constant message not to forget, including from their first-year coach. "I don't thinking winning football games makes victims of child abuse feel better," O'Brien said.
The players had done nothing wrong, but now have to do everything right. They have encountered every opinion from shut the program down to transfer elsewhere, to a place less shamed.
Those who stayed were charged with the task of trying to be a symbol for something very different than what Penn State came to represent a year ago.
"We're trying to do our part by playing football, but it's so much more than that," McGloin said. "It definitely made us grow up and focus on some more important things than football."
Fullback Michael Zordich said, "What we're playing for is bigger than football. I think we've kind of accepted that."
Some here blame Penn State's problems on the NCAA, others the president and trustees, others the football program. Others still wonder how, and why. There are law suits, vigils, protests, angry people taking pictures area where the Paterno statue once stood.
And there are the victims. Always.
"The thing that should have happened is the university should have made things right with the real victims here," Andreozzi said. "I don't think these young men will ever be fully healed."
Yet St. John sees one upside, something that didn't exist a year ago.
"The biggest message from this should be recovery is possible," he said. "The number of men who now have permission to come forward and ask for help has risen tremendously. Website traffic (for MaleSurvivor.org) jumped 55% overnight when this first broke, and when the trial came, it jumped another 55% over a month.
"They (the victims who testified) are so brave. Thousands of men definitely got help because of these guys."
But the healing will take more than one year. More anniversaries. More Penn State accountability. All sides remembering, trying to understand why, and what to do next.
As he sat studying last weekend in Nittanyville, freshman Mark Paulson said, "Both my parents went to Penn State. My father was a dean," he said. "I was in shock at that moment. Obviously people won't forget."
Then he looked at the mass of students and tents around him. "That's what this is all about now, rebuilding our future."
One year later, Sandusky is in prison, Paterno in his grave, with more trials, more questions, maybe more painful new facts to come. And the victims recover as they may. Time always moves on, but that is still an ordeal at Penn State.
Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports