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It's not Neil Rose's fault if he thinks Penn is a school where the students really get excited about football. The Harvard quarterback has seen all of one game at Franklin Field. "The atmosphere there is pretty lively," said Rose, the final signal caller for the Crimson the last time Penn's fans tore down the goalposts and threw them in the Schuylkill. "It's kind of crazy." But the truth is, it's really not. If it was, a certain senior on the Penn football team wouldn't have told me that he wished the fans would rush the turf at Franklin Field and tear down the goalposts if the Quakers win tomorrow. Because it wouldn't have even been an issue. Seems he was reminiscing last week with an ex-Penn football player, a senior on the '98 squad. Looking at photos -- thinking about the thousands-deep throng storming the field, the sweet taste of victory cigars, the sight of the goalpost sinking in the Schuylkill -- he couldn't help but wax nostalgic. And wish he could relive it. I happen to disagree. Tearing down the goalposts in the final home game of '98, when Penn clinched at least a share of the Ivy title, was truly special. And doing it again tomorrow would cheapen the memory. A win and the Quakers are assured just one thing -- they'll still be tied for first. What that senior really wants is a title, a win at Cornell next week and a championship ring he can truly feel is his own. A loss to the Big Red in Ithaca, and I can guarantee he won't be sitting two years from now with a photo album in his lap, reminiscing with a member of the Class of '03 about how much it meant to see that upright go down. It's unlikely the goalposts will come down tomorrow. There are schools where the goalposts do come down after every big win, where they're paraded down the street after every stirring victory. Penn is not one of those schools. If it was, the goalposts would have come down on October 28, when the Quakers scored three touchdowns in the final four minutes-plus to keep their Ivy title hopes alive. Instead, there were even fewer people left in the stands at Franklin Field during the comeback than there were at last month's speech by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This is a school where the bulk of the student body comes to the first game of the year and doesn't come back, save for Homecoming and maybe Family Weekend. And one football player's wishes, one rah-rah column is not going to change that. Listening for that unlikely Cornell loss to lowly Columbia, which would clinch at least a share for Penn, as a signal to raze the goalposts isn't an option -- the Quakers kick off at 12:30, while the Cornell game starts an hour later. It's not the danger of it that keeps me from urging people to tear down the goalposts, as hard as it is to ignore that in '93, Penn was lucky no one was hurt when thousands tried to stream over, under and between two parked TV trucks. Or that in '94 the mob very nearly made the horrific mistake of dropping the goalpost off the wrong side of the bridge -- into the Schuylkill Expressway and not the Schuylkill River. Or that last year a Brown senior lost a finger amid twisting metal in Bruno's Ivy title celebration in Providence. Because if the goalposts do come down, I'd be lying if I said I was going to hide under a row of bleachers and root for the cops in riot gear. Let the mob mentality sweep me away to a bridge over the Schuylkill. I just won't be expecting it, and I'm not urging it on, because at Penn tearing down the goalposts is a tradition reserved for championships -- a vestige of the 1940s, revived with the string of titles Jerry Berndt's squads claimed in the '80s and carried out for each of Al Bagnoli's teams' championships in the '90s. Only once in recent years did it come down on Homecoming when a title was still in doubt -- in the legendary Princeton game of '93. A game with enough bad blood, dramatic buildup and gameday excitement to earn a full story in Sports Illustrated. But this is not that game, and the goalposts should not come down. Instead, come to the game, come and stay longer than the throwing of the toast. Because this game, while not Homecoming '93, is important. "This is certainly the biggest game that's been played at Penn in the last two years," said that certain Red and Blue senior. "So if fans want to celebrate and tear down the goalposts, that would be great... and if they want to celebrate and not tear down the goalposts that's great too. As long as [they] are there and they're celebrating and they're behind the team, that will definitely help us. "It would really propel the team onto bigger and better things." If this senior wants a memory, it will be the rousing win over Harvard, the fans storming the field, the momentum building to a championship worthy of growing misty-eyed over. So stay, just stay until the bitter cold end, not only because it's Homecoming, but because this game does mean something. If the Quakers win, rush the field. Take a few photos you can look back on someday. Revel in the victory. Just stay. If Penn wins again next week, you'll be glad you did.

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