UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa (WTAJ) — In college football, there is nothing like a distinct home field advantage. Penn State has one of the best, just recue the 2019 Penn State-Michigan game where the Wolverines needed a timeout before the first play.
A half-dozen Saturday each fall 107 thousand fans fill Beaver Stadium to make their voices heard, a few makes their faces known.
“We’re all apart of the 12th man. The 12 is not Kerry Collins. It’s for the 12th man, and that includes everyone attending the game” said David Duda. “All the fans make up the 12th person who can effect the outcome.”
David, John, and Paul Duda are known to man as “The Big Uglies.”
“We were out of college, maybe 5 or 6 years. We were kind of those crazy fans, the student fans with body paint and everything. You can’t really do that as an alum. So we have to find a new way to express our enthusiasm,” recalled John.
The story goes back to the 1985 Orange Bowl, when a Hertz car rental promotion handed out the masks. A few years later the brothers’ mom picked up a couple at a yard sale.
“It started slow. We originally wore the masks, and like a Penn State sweatshirts,” said David.
The Big Uglies came together in the early 90s, near 30 years later, the Duda brothers have become a staple at Penn State football game. The journey is more difficult than it once was, the sons of a Penn State professor, they grew up within walking distance of Beaver Stadium, but now all three live out of state. Still, they make it back for home games and occasionally travel. That’s meant seeing some of the best games in Penn State football history, and given them some of the best stories, too.
“We did eat the grass at the Penn State-Ohio State game when we knocked them off,” said Paul. “You have to stay away from the painted lines, that’s the whole trick. But you want to get the DNA embeded in you, so you can remember the day.”
In a way, the Big Uglies have become a face of Penn State football. Three brothers and the occasional substitute who’ve never played a down for the Nittany Lions are now apart of the team’s DNA. They’re a fan favorite like the Blue Band or Nittany Lion.
“We started a long, long time ago,” said Paul. “I remember watching John Cappelletti on the field. We were kids in the early 70s, we’ve always grown up a block from Joe Paterno and grew up in that era and State College is still home for us even though none of us still live here, my mother does and it’s great.”
“If it wasn’t for the fans we wouldn’t be doing this. It’s for them. I have a daughter who was just accepted to Penn State. Maybe one day we’ll give it up, but not yet.”