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Tag:Penn State
Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:16 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:42 am
 

What's with the misguided anger, Penn State?

Penn State people are mad, no furious, with the reported hire of Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as the man who would replace The Man. Which means Penn State fans just don't get it.

And look, PSU people, I'm not mocking you. Not taunting you. Not enjoying your anger or frustration. You're going to see plenty of those people in the next few days, media people and otherwise, people who were so shaken by the Sandusky scandal that they take it out on anything and everything representing Penn State. And I understand their rage, I really do. But I'm not one of them, so don't miss what I'm writing here.

I'm trying to help. Honest. And what occurs to me, from my point on the periphery, is that there are people at Penn State -- even a truly intelligent insider like ex-PSU linebacker LaVar Arrington -- who are so close to the situation that they can't see it for what it is.

And what it is, for Penn State, is impossible.

The administration had no chance to win the press conference, as it's called when the new coach is introduced to acclaim. Whoever that guy is, he wasn't coming to Penn State. Not so soon after ... Sandusky.

It just wasn't going to happen.

The initial hint came way back in November when Joe Paterno was forced out, and the first name to surface was Mike London of Virginia. That's a humble name, Mike London of Virginia. Career record at UVa: 12-13. Four years total as a head coach, the first two at Richmond. And when London was connected to Penn State by media reports, he backtracked as if Penn State was something he almost stepped in.

That was our sign. That was your sign, Penn State fans: This job wasn't going to be filled easily, and as the following two months showed, it wasn't filled easily. Penn State alums didn't want it. Outsiders didn't want it.

Meanwhile, the Penn State administration was trying to conduct its coaching search in privacy, even secrecy, because there was no way the school was going to hire someone with a great resume if that hiring was leaked before it became official. So Penn State did what it could on the down low, and for that Penn State people are mad. I've been getting tweets all morning like this one from a Penn State fan lamenting the "secrecy and arrogance" of the search.

As if there's any other kind, these days.

There are Penn State supporters, LaVar Arrington among them, who insist the job should have gone to interim coach Tom Bradley. And that underscores my earlier point, about some people being too close to the situation to see it clearly.

Tom Bradley was never going to get this job. It would have been outrageous if he had gotten it. And that's not a shot at Tom Bradley, who gets high marks from every media person I've ever talked to about him. But he spent years on staff with Sandusky, and was on staff when this story exploded, and was even the face of the program for the month after the explosion.

That guy can't be given the job on a permanent basis. Not if this school is sincere in its desire -- and the administration sure seems to be sincere -- to put behind it one of the ugliest stories in college football history.

It couldn't be Bradley. It wouldn't be Mike Munchak. Even the sub-.500 coach at a basketball school in the ACC wouldn't touch it.

Other than Bill O'Brien, who was Penn State going to get?

Nobody, that's who. The complaining today from Penn State people is as misguided a reaction as the riot by students the night of Paterno's firing. It's anger for the sake of anger, but it's aimed in the wrong place. Sandusky should be the target. Sandusky, and those who didn't do nearly enough to stop his alleged reign of terror.

This is not Penn State President Rodney Erickson's fault.

This is not Bill O'Brien's fault.

Want to be mad, Penn State? Get mad at Sandusky. Get mad at former president Graham Spanier and former athletics director Tim Curley. Hell, get mad at Joe Paterno.

But if Bill O'Brien truly is your next coach, get behind him, and do it now. You are ... Penn State. Remember?

Time to act like it.












Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:37 pm
 

Tom Bradley gets his dream job. For now.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- This is the job Tom Bradley always wanted, but he didn't want it like this. And he won't keep it like this, either. This job he has, head football coach at Penn State? It's a temporary tag, and it's never going to become permanent.

Add Bradley to the pile of collateral damage in the Jerry Sandusky scandal that has cost an untold number of alleged victims their emotional well-being, and has cost four of the most powerful men on campus -- coach Joe Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletics director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schwartz -- their job.

And it will cost Tom Bradley his job, too. Maybe he comes back next season as an assistant coach, maybe not. That will be up to the next head coach, whoever it is -- but it won't be Tom Bradley. He's the interim coach, but that's all he is. That's all he ever will be. Tom Bradley hit his career peak on Thursday, even as he plumbed the depths of personal lows.

"'I take this job with very mixed emotions," Bradley said Thursday morning at Beaver Stadium, where he will lead the Nittany Lions into their home finale Saturday against Nebraska. Bradley also will coach Penn State in its final two regular-season games of the season, at Ohio State and Wisconsin, and in whatever bowl game Penn State appears, assuming the school chooses to appear in one.

After that, though, Tom Bradley is out. He doesn't seem to know that, and he definitely didn't say that on Thursday. Asked if he had been given any indication by school officials that he was a candidate for the position on a permanent basis, Bradley said that topic hadn't come up. And I believe him.

I also believe it will never come up, because Penn State is in housecleaning mode -- and you don't fire the head housekeeper to promote the chimneysweep. Paterno is gone. The president is gone. The AD. A vice president. And soon that wave will sweep the remnants of Paterno's coaching staff out the door as well.

It's doubtful the next coach, whoever he is, would retain a single member of this current staff -- but if one man is retained, it would be Tom Bradley. He is that highly regarded in all circles, whether by coaches or fans or even the media. Full disclosure: The media loves Tom Bradley, and after spending 25 minutes at his initial press conference on Thursday, I see why. He pulls no punches, tells no lies. If he can't answer a question, he tells you he can't answer it. If he can, he does.

Asked if he'd slept in four days, Bradley blurted out, "Do I look that bad?"

Asked a general question about a coach's responsibility to protect children from the kind of atrocities that Sandusky was allegedly allowed to continue from 2002 to 2011, Bradley didn't back down.

"We all have a responsibility to take care of our children," he said. "All of us."

That answer seemed to undercut Joe Paterno, yet Bradley made it clear Thursday he holds only one man in higher regard.

"Coach Paterno has meant more to me than anybody but my father," Bradley said. At that he became emotional, so he stopped talking. Next question.

Another question came about Paterno, and another, and another, and Bradley answered them like so:

"He will go down in history as one of the greatest men, and coaches," Bradley said.

"He has had a dynamic impact on so many, so many -- I'll say it again -- so many people and players' lives," Bradley said.

Bradley loves Joe Paterno. He also loves Penn State, playing here as a defensive back from 1975-78 and coaching here ever since. Once upon a time, Jerry Sandusky was the most respected assistant on staff -- scary, huh? -- but when Sandusky retired in 1999 to pursue his other interests, Bradley replaced him as defensive coordinator and as the man most likely to replace Paterno, assuming the replacement would come from within.

And assuming Paterno would ever retire.

Well, Paterno's gone. He didn't retire -- he was fired late Wednesday night. And Tom Bradley has replaced him, but not for long. Just for three games, maybe four, and then Bradley will leave the only school he has ever worked.

It's not one of the bigger tragedies of this story. It's not, in comparison, a tragedy at all.

But it's a sad turn of events nonetheless.



Posted on: November 8, 2011 7:27 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Joe Paterno, hero

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- More than 1,000 Penn State students gave Joe Paterno the hero treatment on Tuesday night, gathering outside his house to wave supportive signs and chant his name -- and roaring in glee when he stepped outside to thank them.

"You've been great, just great," Paterno said softly, comments that couldn't have been heard by more than 25 people.

Paterno said something else that surely wasn't heard by most of the crowd, which is a shame:

"The victims," Paterno said. "Say prayers for them."

That message didn't get to the outer edges, to people who weren't there to hear deep thoughts. They were there to touch or just glimpse the winningest coach in Division I history -- who is also one of the handful of Penn State officials who didn't call the police in 2002 after learning that an eyewitness on his coaching staff had accused former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky of sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower on campus.

One Penn State fan outside Paterno's house waved a sign that read, "Two of my favorite J's: Jesus and Joe Paterno."

This scandal has turned campus into Bizarro World, a place where up is down and wrong is right and Joe Paterno is serenaded by students who were roughly the same age, in 2002, as Sandusky's alleged shower victim.

Meanwhile, off campus, people are horrified. It seems to be the dominant opinion elsewhere that Paterno, like the handful of other Penn State officials with knowledge of the alleged assault -- the grad assistant who saw it, the athletics director who was told about it -- concerned themselves only with the minimum legal standards in 2002. The moral minimum would have been to call the police. Nobody did.

I had that very argument Tuesday night with a Penn State student, who apparently recognized me as I stood on Paterno's lawn and asked me, accusingly, "Don't you hate Paterno?"

Me: I don't hate him. But I think he should be fired.

Her: Why?

Me: Because there are eight [alleged] victims that we know about, and who knows how many more, and Paterno had the chance to stop it in 2002 and he didn't.

Her: Oh my god! He did what he was supposed to do! He told his boss!

Me: That was the bare minimum, and if you think that's great, I don't know what to tell you.

Her: I don't think it's great, I just think ... put it this way: Would you have called the police? Really? Would you?

Me: Of course. It's not even a question.

And there our conversation ended. We'd both heard enough, and we'd heard nothing. She wasn't listening to me, and I wasn't listening to her. But I was still listening to the crowd, which was chanting even as it was dispersed from Paterno's yard by police:

"We want Joe!"

Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.

"We want Joe!"

After that chant died down, another started. It was a chant that showed the priorities of the 1,000 students who gathered outside the house of one of the few men on the planet who had the ability to stop an alleged pedophile in 2002 ... but didn't do it. Paterno told his boss, yes, but he didn't tell the police, even after it was clear that nobody else was going to tell the police. An alleged pedophile roamed State College, Pa., for another nine years. But that wasn't on the minds of the 1,000 people on Paterno's lawn Tuesday night.

This was:

"Beat Nebraska!"

Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.

"Beat Nebraska!"


Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Who is Scott Paterno? A guy who won't shut up

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The more Scott Paterno talks, the worse it looks for his father. And here he goes, talking some more.

"Nobody has asked Joe to step down," Scott said outside his father's house on Tuesday, where about 75 reporters were waiting for the chance to speak with the coach as he left for practice. "No more comment, guys."

Scott Paterno has become a major player in this story, if only because he's the mouth that won't stop flapping. Before this Jerry Sandusky scandal, which will bring down Joe Paterno one way or another, I didn't know about Scott Paterno. Didn't know he was a lawyer. Didn't know he had a goatee. Didn't know he existed.

Now, you can't miss him. He's everywhere, and if you can't find him in person, find him on-line.

"Follow me on Twitter," Scott Paterno told the media Tuesday outside his father's house.

And I'm not making that up. Joe Paterno's son really did use this moment to ask the media -- under the guise of gathering information -- to "follow me on Twitter." He sounded like some punk begging for attention.

Which he is, come to think of it. But I'm glad someone is willing to seek attention, after the school pulled the plug on Joe Paterno's weekly press conference Tuesday when it finally dawned on someone in the administration that this scandal is sort of a big deal. So the press conference was canceled. More than 200 reporters went sent away from Beaver Stadium, and they were sent away unhappy.

"He had in fact wanted to answer questions at the press conference," Scott Paterno told reporters outside his father's house on Tuesday. "I have nothing more to say."

He has said enough, believe me. Scott Paterno is the one who suggested -- on Twitter, follow him! -- that his father would give an off-campus press conference after the campus event was canceled. That sent almost 100 people to Paterno's house Tuesday, including 20 or so students who were there just ... because.

Eventually Joe Paterno popped out, walked to his car and said a few lines, most notably these: "I know you guys have a lot of questions. I'm trying to answer them today."

When? Where? He didn't say. He climbed into his car, after nearly tripping over someone's foot, and sped away.

Scott Paterno stayed to handle the publicity, because that's what he does. He handles publicity. He doesn't handle it adroitly, but that's not my problem. Almost everything Scott Paterno has said in the last few days has shown a severe disconnect between the Paterno side and the Penn State side. They are not on the same page here, but we only know that because of Scott Paterno. He has said his father would meet the media at his regular press conference, but the school shut down the press conference. He has said his father would meet the media off-campus, then didn't make it happen. Probably because the school caught wind of it and urged for something resembling silence.

The school is very clearly trying to find a way to separate itself from Joe Paterno, but Scott says that's not the case.

"Status quo. Joe will coach Saturday," he told reporters outside his father's house Tuesday. "I have no other comment."

Scott Paterno is the son who helped Joe craft that ill-conceived statement over the weekend, where Joe Paterno claimed to have been "fooled" by Jerry Sandusky, even though Joe Paterno himself is the one who reported Sandusky's alleged molestation of a boy in 2002 to Penn State athletics director Tim Curley.

That statement also played the family card -- "Sue and I have devoted our lives to helping young people ..." -- and in general made a mess of Paterno's involvement in the case. Well done? Not close, but that's Scott Paterno. He doesn't know what he's doing.

"Guys, I have to go. I have nothing more to say," he told reporters outside his father's house Tuesday, after his father had left for practice. Scott Paterno said that as he walked toward the front door.

And then Scott Paterno did the weirdest thing. He stopped walking toward the house, turned and faced the reporters.

"No comment," he said, but he didn't leave. He didn't move. And he talked for about three more minutes. The attention is a flame. Scott Paterno is the moth.

And his father's career is being burned to a crisp.







 
 
 
 
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