STATE COLLEGE -- Each of Beaver Stadium's 110,000 seats was empty, offering a calm stillness to the clear Friday afternoon. On the field, the Penn State football team rehearsed pages from the playbook in preparation for the following day's Blue-White Game.
Charlie Fisher, the newly hired quarterbacks coach, keenly observed each play. He's got an important job within the Nittany Lion offense, and the results are probably the most visible.
His task: Groom a stable of quarterbacks, three of whom are vying for the outright starting spot. It's been the most scrutinized, most publicized position battle for a third straight year, and he realizes the success of the team in 2012 relies heavily on the performance of his guys.
But as the Warrior Run alum stood arms crossed behind his offense, assessing the play of each quarterback candidate, he paused for a moment. He looked around the empty stadium -- the same place he used to travel the 70 miles from Allenwood to catch a Penn State game -- and thought, "It's good to be home.
"As a kid that grew up here (in Pennsylvania) and came to games years ago and sat in the wooden bleachers, and to have the opportunity to coach here and represent my home state at Penn State," Fisher said, "it's a dream come true. Really (it's) a culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of support from people around me. It's exciting."
Fisher came to Penn State in February as the last assistant to be hired by head coach Bill O'Brien, rounding out his nationally acclaimed coaching staff.
Before the hiring Fisher coached at Miami of Ohio and he was also at Temple for two years, which is the closest he's worked to his hometown since he graduated from Warrior Run in 1977.
He also spent more than 20 years touring the south, with coaching stops at Eastern Kentucky, Ole Miss, West Georgia, Lenoir-Rhyne College, North Carolina State and Vanderbilt, and it sounds like his voice might have picked up a touch of southern twang along the way.
But there's no mistaking it, Central Pennsylvania is home for Fisher.
His wife, Julie, whom he still calls his "high school sweetheart," is also a Warrior Run alum, and both of their families still live within the area.
Due to the demands of being a Division I coach, however, Fisher said he doesn't make it back to the area nearly as often as he'd like.
"When I'm home, I'm only home for a little bit to see my family and my mother," he said after the Blue-White Game Saturday. "But I get a lot of emails and calls and saw some people (Saturday), so that's been really neat to share this experience with close friends and family. That's been a lot of fun."
He's also having a lot of fun in his new role as Penn State's quarterbacks coach, but as he admitted, he never would have guessed he'd be getting the chance he has now.
"You never know when the opportunity is going to come," Fisher said, "and this opportunity kind of snuck on me. I certainly had to pinch myself the first time."
Before O'Brien reached out to him, Fisher was just beginning his second season with the Red Hawks. In his first, he helped lead quarterback Zac Dysert to one of the best seasons in Miami history, as he finished 11th in the NCAA in passing offense with 292.7 yards per game.
O'Brien hoped that Fisher could bring similar success to Penn State's quarterbacks. So through a connection with "mutual friends," as Fisher called it, O'Brien reached out to him about possibly joining his staff.
Said Fisher, "I got a call, and it was one of those things where you just say, 'Wow, what a unique opportunity.'"
On the following Wednesday, Feb. 15, Fisher reported to Penn State's campus for an extensive interview, and then "was offered the job on Thursday," he said, "and showed back up for work on Friday."
Since then he's been working hand-in-hand, day-in and day-out with O'Brien, trying to maximize their potential at quarterback.
Great job today
During the Blue-White Game on Saturday the three potential starters -- Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones -- combined for 296 yards and two touchdowns on 19 completions, but they also threw five interceptions.
Fisher said one shouldn't judge their performance by the statistics in what was essentially a glorified scrimmage. Fisher added that his top priority was to get each candidate equal repetitions. Let them all make mistakes, let them correct those mistakes and then he'd take to the film room and dissect each performance individually.
"Charlie Fisher did a great job today," O'Brien said in his postgame news conference. "I don't know if you noticed, but I kept going out there to talk to him. That's what I was talking about, how the reps were (going). Again, if I'm going to stand up in front of this team and talk about being fair and honest, then we need to be fair in scrimmages like this with the distribution of reps, especially at that position."
And if all goes well for Fisher, one of those quarterbacks will emerge as the clear-cut starter before the 2012 season commences against Ohio on September 1. And if it were to go even better, that starter will post similar numbers to his pupil at Miami, Dysert.
Because if there was one thing that holds true about the fans who fill the Beaver Stadium seats, they're much happier with a productive quarterback at the helm.