History of Nittanyville
Originally named "Paternoville," Nittanyville is a student camp out that occurs every week of a Penn State home football game. The students camp out to support the team and to acquire the best possible seats for the weekend's upcoming game, since seating is first-come, first serve for students. While the name "Paternoville" came about during Penn State's 2005 football season, students have long camped out for first row seats. Prior to 1993, the University distributed non-seat-specific tickets. Starting the same year Penn State football began competition in the Big Ten Conference, students were assigned seats on a first-come-first-serve basis, so that the first students to pass through "Gate A" at the south-east corner of the stadium would be assigned first row seats, and so on down the line. Since then, students have camped out in small to massive numbers in order to guarantee themselves a rail-side seat (though the students hardly ever sit) for the most amazing of sports spectacles; a Penn State home football game.
Many generations of campers have come and gone, but it wasn't until the 2005 season that the students had a name for their tent-city. In anticipation of the 2005 clash between #16 Penn State and #6 Ohio State, students began camping six days in advance of the game outside the gate so that they would get a first row seat for, arguably, the biggest game of the 2005 season for Penn State. On Tuesday of the week preceeding the game, "Paternoville" first appeared. Credited with the naming, freshman Dan Clark and the other students camping with him created a banner reading "Paternoville."
Original Banner (click for full-size)
The name stuck. On Wednesday morning, October 5th, 2005, newspapers were already referring to the campsite as "Paternoville." State-wide, regional, and even national media outlets began paying attention to the show in front of Gate A. Local businesses printed t-shirts up for the students, brought truckloads of food, and distributed various things like magazines and small footballs to keep the students occupied. Throughout the week, players, coaches, and many alumni and media personalities paid visits to Paternoville. O
On Friday, ESPN's "Cold Pizza" morning show was broadcast from in front of the Bryce Jordan Center, across from the stadium, with some of the cast walking through Paternoville interviewing students and taping their activities, despite the constant drizzle. The next day, ESPN's College Gameday also was broadcast in front of the Bryce Jordan Center, hours before the showdown between the cross-border rivals.
Before noon, the tents were packed away and hundreds of students began to line up for entry into the stadium. That night, in a historic match, the Nittany Lions upset the #6 ranked Buckeys 17-10 in front of a crowd of almost 110,000. The game being decided on a fumble by Ohio State quarterback and future Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, caused by Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali and recovered by defensive tackle Scott Paxson. After the final whistle, the jubilant students rushed the field.
The Paternoville name continued after the game. Since the original "Paternoville," two other games have garnered comparable camp-outs. They were the 2005 contest against the University of Wisconsin Badgers (Senior Day for the 2005 season), and the 2006 contest against University of Michigan Wolverines. However, students camp out for every game, not just the "big" games. On average, about 10-15 tents appear for every game, while the number of tents for the 2005 Ohio State and Wisconsin games and the 2006 Michigan game exceeded 100.
Large camp out- 2005 Ohio State game (click for full-size)
Photo Credit Jeremy Drey
Prior to the 2006 season, the University placed several markers around Beaver Stadium commemorating various traditions related to Penn State football. To the left of Gate A there is a marker for the Penn State "student section" and to the right of the gate there is a marker for "Paternoville."
Since 2006, the practice of camping out has grown every year until 2009, when over 2,000 different students camped out for one or multiple games throughout the season. In 2011, the record was broken because of Penn State's high-powered home schedule, which included SEC powerhouse Alabama and new in-conference foe Nebraska, amongst other teams.
In the summer of 2012, "Paternoville" officially became "Nittanyville." As Coach Paterno was no longer the coach of Penn State's football team, the organization decided that since it was unlikely another coach would stay as long as Coach Paterno had, changing the name for each new coach would be impractical. However, aside from the name, nothing has changed and students will continue to support the team and camp out for the best seats long into the future.