There have been other pass receptions in Penn State's history that were more spectacular than Mike McCloskey's leaping catch in the 1982 game with Nebraska.
First and most famous, of course, is Gregg Garrity's diving catch of a Todd Blackledge pass in the end zone that sealed the 27-23 victory over Georgia in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. That one secured Penn State's first national championship.
There was Chuck Herd's one-handed, in-stride catch of a Tom Shuman pass at midfield in the 1974 Orange Bowl that put Penn State ahead of LSU 10-7 in what became a 17-9 victory.
And there was Kirk Bowman's tumbling, two-yard reception in the end zone with four seconds left that gave Penn State the 27-24 win over Nebraska that night in 1982.
Compared to those, McCloskey's catch wasn't all that exceptional from an athletic standpoint. A tall (6-foot-5), athletic type, McCloskey was more of a receiver than a blocker. So when Blackledge fired high on a second-and-4 at the Nebraska 17, McCloskey leaped along the east sideline at the south end of the stadium, caught the ball and came down inbounds. Or out of bounds.
That's where the controversy lies. Penn State fans believe he was inbounds (wink, wink) and Nebraska followers to this day swear he was out and the Huskers got homered. Homered out of the game, homered out of a national championship since that was the only game they lost that year, finishing 12-1 and ranked third. Nebraska newspapers ran a cartoon showing the Beaver Stadium field with a two-yard offset along the sideline which it called McCloskey's Corner.
For his part, McCloskey's staying the course.
"I just caught the pass,'' he says. "It's not like it was the last play of the game. It would have been third down and we were only down by three points (24-21) so we could still have kicked the field goal.''
But who knows what a tie would have done to Penn State's hopes of finally winning a national title after so many misses. In all likelihood, given the fact that the Lions were beaten by Alabama in their next game, they probably would not have been invited to play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and Garrity's catch would never have happened.
Which is the way Nebraska fans figure it should have played out. Still do, as a matter of fact.
A couple of years ago McCloskey, whose firm handles some investments for Boys Town, which is located in Omaha, Neb., was invited to a banquet there. Turner Gill, who was the Nebraska quarterback that night in Beaver Stadium, was the featured speaker and McCloskey was asked to speak as well.
"So I figured, 'OK, we'll have some fun with this.' I got up there and said, 'Turner, I can't live with the guilt any longer.' I took off my championship ring and handed it to him,'' McCloskey recalled. "I was just having some fun.
"After it was over a reporter from the Omaha paper came up to me and said, 'So now, you finally admit it.' He asked me some more questions. And the next day's headlines on the front page of the paper said 'Penn State tight end comes clean.'
"The New York Times ran a little blurb on it and when I got home I got calls from about 10 other papers and talk shows, asking me to comment.''
Over time, the man has come to be defined by that singular moment. It was one catch in one drive in one football game. And it will live in the lore of football at both schools.
"It never dies,'' McCloskey said. "I've told people it's a good thing it happened because that's how they remember me. All I know is I caught the ball, the ref ruled I was inbounds and I ran back to the huddle because we weren't finished with what we were doing. That last drive was bigger than that play.''
"It was only later on that it became a much bigger deal.''
Ron Bracken is sports editor of the Centre Daily Times. He can be reached at 231-4641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.