This is less a strictly sports centric question and more a social identity question, which is why I’m placing it here vs the gaming forum.
In looking at the Penn State situation it seems to some extent their entire identity as a school and even as human beings is wound into the Penn state football program. The quality of the school as an academic institution seems almost secondary to the maintenance and preservation of a top notch football program.
Penn State, so far as I can tell, is a well a regarded school academically, and yet this issue seems to be the overwhelming focus of the students and alumni.
Is it the same elsewhere? I went to the Univ of MD College Park in the late 70’s, and while there was a lot of school spirit it was not nearly messianic or core to their entire existence as seems to be the case with Penn State.