Penn State Drops ‘Sweet Caroline’ From Football Playlist: Are Lyrics to Blame?

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Ryan Scherer #16 of Penn State holds hands with teammates as they take the field against Nebraska at Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.

With just days until kickoff, it seems suspicious that the Nittany Lions would drop Neil Diamond’s classic “Sweet Caroline” from their gameday playlist. But a look at the song’s lyrics prove that blasting it over the stadium’s sound system could wrench open wounds still raw from the wide-reaching child abuse scandal that brought down some of the football team’s highest-ranking coaches.

According to school officials, though, the song had simply maxed out its playing time. Greg Myford, Penn State’s associate athletic director, tells ESPN in an email that updating the songs played, both by the band and over the sound system, gets reviewed every year and time was up on “Sweet Caroline,” a song that has no direct or meaningful ties to Penn State and is in use in various venues throughout the country.

(LIST: Top College Football Traditions)

Unofficially, though, people muse that the lyrics “reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you” were the factor for the song’s deletion. With a campus still fully aware of the sexual assault convictions of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, including instances where the crimes occurred within the university’s football facility, there’s nothing entertaining about a throng of hundreds of thousands of fans singing along to lyrics that could take on a different meaning at Penn State University.

The official word from Penn State officials reiterates the Neil Diamond lyrics weren’t a factor at all, but it was the only song removed from the rotation for the upcoming football season, which returns to Happy Valley on Sept. 1 against Ohio University.

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