STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — In 2012, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football bore crippling NCAA sanctions. The school was fined $60 million, the team was stripped of 40 scholarships, a four-year postseason ban, and a free transfer waiver challenged the future one of college football’s most historic programs.
But through the darkest days in school history, the team endured. The documentary “Saving the Roar” tells that story.
“Really, we wanted to play football that year, we wanted to play on Saturdays, and the threat of that being taken away was enough to get us on our feet and stand up for what we believed in,” said former Penn State running back Michael Zordich.
Zordich and several of his 2012 teammates were in State College earlier this September ahead of the documentary’s premiere. “Saving the Roar” honors that senior class who may have literally saved the program from its demise.
“It was such a unique time in Penn State football history, said former linebacker Michael Mauti. “And really an important time.”
“This is a story about life. And football is just kind of the backdrop,” said Bob Morgan.
Morgan is the documentary’s executive director. He’s a Penn State alum, class of 1989. He described filming the story as being eye-opening for him, and cathartic for many of the players.
Morgan said initially there was pushback to the film, many worried he was dredging up the past.
“Our belief was that had already been written, that had already been talked about,” he said. “I equated it to the ‘We are Marshall’ story. That story was about how the team and community responded after the plane crash. As soon as I explained that there was a plane crash at Penn State. We want to tell the story of what happened after the plane crash. And that’s what we stuck to.”
Penn State opened the season with consecutive losses and finished 8-4. It wasn’t Penn State’s best team, and that senior class wasn’t the most successful. But as Morgan says, it’s the most important in school history.
“The fact that they stayed, they kept the program together. That’s really the title of the file, ‘Saving the Roar,’ it really is. They saved the program, they saved the legacy, they saved the community,” he said. “I cannot imagine what state college would be like without that program.”
The movie streams online right now, you can click this link the schedule a showing.