Category Archives: PSU Football 2012

Penn State gets an old rival back: Maryland to Big Ten; Rutgers likely

Getting B1Gger: Maryland, Rutgers to join Big TenExaminer.com
Look at this! I’ve come out of my Penn State blogging slumber. Sort of. More of that someday, but today the big story is that Penn State has (a) new neighbor(s) in the Big Ten Conference.

The University of Maryland has accepted an invitation to the Big Ten Conference, press conference at 3 p.m. The Terrapins will begin playing in 2014-2015. The Terps used to play the Nittany Lions in football annually. And get beat. Often badly.

Rutgers University is expected to join the conference tomorrow. Another old football opponent/doormat for PSU. Right now, the State University of New Jersey is having a strong season, ranked in the Big East.

These new additions are blatant money grabs for the Big Ten, anything else is secondary. The Big Ten hopes that having these two will get Big Ten Network on basic cable in the Washington D.C., New York and Baltimore television markets. Those are a lot of eyeballs. I don’t think BTN will break into basic cable in New York City, but certainly has a shot in North Jersey which is significant. A good portion of Maryland will likely put BTN on basic cable too. There will be battles over it, but it will eventually be sorted out. Being on the Sports Tier isn’t too bad either and I anticipate greater adoption of that for BTN.

If you are a Penn State fan (or Big Ten fan in the Mid-Atlantic for that matter) this news is bit mixed. Having two “traditional rivals” back on the schedule is good if the Big Ten is too Midwest centric. It is also good news because Penn State dominated those series. Both schools are on the Northeast Corridor and far closer than any of the existing Big Ten schools, especially for all of us who live near Interstate 95. The downsides — potentially and particularly in light of the NCAA sanctions (speaking of blatant power grabs) is that Penn State doesn’t have the argument of a stronger conference than the ones Maryland and Rutgers were in. Also, Maryland and Rutgers may get TV priority, so that could mean fewer Penn State games on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 though I don’t see that being that big a problem. Penn State is a bigger draw, even now, than those and tends to play in the later timeslots. That’s probably not that big a deal.

I anticipate the Big Ten will now break down strictly on geography for divisions, though I was joking they ought to have to divisions:

RED
Indiana
Maryland
Minnesota
Nebraska
Ohio State
Rutgers
Wisconsin
NOT RED
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Penn State
Purdue
Northwestern

By the way, if you want to be “subway alumni” here are the directions from the College Park UMd. Metro station to Byrd Stadium:


View Larger Map

A bit of a hike, but doable. Rutgers is not too far from Amtrak Northeast Corridor/NJ Transit either:


View Larger Map

2.8 miles — I don’t know New Brunswick/Piscataway, so I don’t know the practicality of walking from the train station. It is a nice idea though.

Really, I’ll write about Penn State football again sometime before the bowl game

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No more Sweet Caroline at Penn State games

Tweaking the traditionAltoona Mirror

And while the Boston Red Sox, Pitt football and others have elevated “Sweet Caroline” to a staple for their games, that popular PSU tradition may be interrupted or discontinued.

Long overdue, particularly considering the awful origins of the song:


Neil Diamond Storytellers by JimGoodwine

Okay, in the real world, I’m glad they are getting rid of it because it is a cliche that has nothing to do with the Penn State. Not that it has anything to do with the Red Sox, but they’ve made it their own long before Guido D’Elia brought it to Beaver Stadium. I’m sure it still gets played at the Shandygaff.

I still have a post to write about everything. Not real eager to do it.

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Guido D’Elia is gone from Penn State!

Penn State Marketing “Guru” Guido D’Elia Let Go Black Shoe Diaries
We found out today that Guido D’Elia, who was in charge of Football Communications and Branding for Penn State football, is GONE! @FightonState tweeted this great news.

Hopefully, this means the end of “theme games” like tie-dye day and piped in music like “Sweet Caroline,” “Livin’ On a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin’”. D’Elia may have been a competent video producer with the Penn State Football Story, but his gameday experience was very minor league and not collegiate. I’ll give him credit for doing well with the Joe Paterno Memorial Service, but that’s about it. I got tired of driving for hours and spending hundreds of dollars to hear the same generic piped-in music that he dumbed-down Beaver Stadium with for the last several seasons.

There is only one way to celebrate this news:

Let’s hope whoever takes over respects the traditional Penn State and college football experience overall. Let the Blue Band shine!

UPDATE: This may mean the end of the Penn State Football Story as we know it since D’Elia’s company, Mind Over Media produced it. If that happens, so be it, AND BRING BACK TV QUARTERBACKS. I bet Fran Fisher still has those loud blazers in his closet.

Not his loudest jacket, but you get the idea…

Also, can we get the contrasting trim back on the jerseys? D’Elia claimed it was his idea to make the Penn State football jerseys less elegant and more cheap looking.

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2012 Penn State football recruits

OUR LONG NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT DAY NIGHTMARE IS OVER

I say that every year at this time. Here is the Nittany Lions recruiting run-down from Black Shoe Diaries.

I don’t follow recruiting and doubt I ever will, but there are significant energy in following it. There are 2 major national outfits focused primarily on recruiting. Me, I prefer following the players who are actually on the team and play in games. Oh and read For the Glory by Ken Denlinger about the 1988 Penn State recruiting class if you aren’t convinced that following recruiting is a mostly waste of time.

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R.I.P. Joe Paterno

I am only getting to my obituary for Joe Paterno now because I wasn’t sure what I could add to the thousands of tributes already out there. I’m going to try and fill in something that I think has been overlooked. That aspect was also a little hard to find online until late last week.

Paterno won 409 games, 2 undisputed national championships, had undefeated seasons in 4 different decades, won 3 Big Ten Championships, every bowl game that mattered and more than any one else for that matter. His on-field legacy is secure. His “Grand Experiment” of having football players who were students is unsurpassed in big time college football. Paterno’s football players graduated a rate higher than the Penn State population in recent years and probably over his entire tenure. The praise he gathered for that was well-earned.

An aspect of Paterno that I feel that may have been overlooked was his direct role in shaping the Pennsylvania State University. The fame that his successful football teams brought raise the profile of the university. Paterno would have been a memorable figure for that, particularly the the way he did it. However, Paterno did not settle for that and at the peak of his power and prestige, he decided that the Penn State could not settle for being #1 just in football. Following the 1982 National Championship, Paterno was invited to speak to the Board of Trustees. Instead of a pep talk, he outlined a vision for the university. Here is an excerpt from Paterno’s January 22, 1983 speech to the Board of Trustees, 29 years to the day before died (Google Doc):

So we do have a magic moment and we have a great opportunity, and I think we have got to start right now to put our energies together to make Penn State not only Number One, but I think we’ve got to start to put our energies together to make this a Number One institution by 1990. I don’t think that’s an unfounded or a way-out objective. I think we need some things. I talk to you now as a faculty member. I talk to you as somebody who has spent 33 years at Penn State, who has two daughters at Penn State, who probably will have three sons at Penn State, who has a wife that graduated from Penn State, who has two brother-in-laws that graduated from Penn State, and I talk to you as somebody I think who knows a little bit about what’s going on. Who has recruited against Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, who has recruited against Notre Dame, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard and who has had to identify some things that they have that are better than we have and has had to identify some of our problems. I talk to you as somebody that I think knows a little bit about what’s going on in the other guys, and I think a little bit about what’s going on here. We need chairs. We need money so that we can get some stars. We need scholarship money. We need scholarship money to get scholars who can be with the stars so that the stars will come in and have some people around that can stimulate them and they can be stimulated by the stars. We need a better library–better libraries would be a better way to put it–so that the stars and the scholars have the tools to realize their potential. We need an environment of dissent and freedom of speech and freedom to express new and controversial ideas.

Paterno was vice chair of the first “Campaign for Penn State” the raised $352 million from 1984-1990. He continued to raise money for Penn State for decades and with his wife, Sue, contributed over $4 million. He specifically raised money for the library which now bears his last name. The modern Penn State, a modern research institution with many nationally ranked colleges, schools and departments is his greatest legacy.

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Joe Posnanski also spoke with Joe Paterno in the final days

Paterno’s final days: no bitterness, just marveling at his fortunate lifeSports Illustrated

In the moments after Joe Paterno died, it became common for people to write and say that he died of a broken heart. He did not. Joe Paterno died of lung cancer and the complications it caused. He did not die a bitter or broken man.

Joe Posnanski spent the fall in State College preparing to write a book at Joe Paterno and Happy Valley. It was something that I looked forward to reading, even though I have read countless Paterno biographies. Posnanski is just such a good writer and I was sure he would come up with a great book that would provide additional illumination.

Paterno had said that he would not speak with Posnanski due to the commitments of running the program, but following the dark days that Jerry Sandusky brought to Penn State, Paterno had the time. Aware of his mortality facing lung cancer, Paterno changed his mind and spoke with Posnanski.

I am sure there will be more in Posnanski’s book, but this short article makes it pretty clear that the “died of broken heart” narrative is a false one. All of those books and all that I knew of Paterno suggested this would not be the case and this confirmed it. Cancer (especially diagnosed as late as Paterno’s was) and cancer treatments puts a tremendous toll on someone. I suspect the latter proved to be the specific cause of Paterno’s death.

I am still trying to piece together my thoughts on Paterno’s legacy and it may be a few days yet. I need to give the same consideration to that as I did my post-Sandusky posts that were critical of him. I stand by those, but they are not the whole story by a long shot.

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Seven Nation Army: Wait, Guido D’Elia did something kind of right?

How The Song “Seven Nation Army” Conquered The Sports WorldDeadspin

“Seven Nation Army” made a beachhead in American sports in State College, Penn. According to a 2006 story in the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Penn State spokesperson Guido D’Elia—who is still the director of communications and branding for the embattled football program—was inspired by hearing a Public Radio International story about A.S. Roma’s use of the song.

Weird, who knew Guido would actually work with the Blue Band. Overall though, he still needs to go and I think “Seven Nation Army” does too. I love it as much as any one but –ohhh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhh-ohhh well that is something Ohio State does now too and it makes sense there. We don’t need to be chanting the first letter of a rival. It doesn’t need to go as much as Rock n’ Roll Part II of course.

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My reactions to the Sally Jenkins interview with Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno finally put out his side of the story nearly two months after a grand jury indicted Jerry Sandusky on many counts of doing horrible things to boys. I am glad that Paterno finally spoke, even though he doesn’t say much. It needs to be mentioned that the journalist, Sally Jenkins, was handpicked by Paterno and his PR firm. Paterno is also undergoing cancer treatment and was hospitalized later in the day the interview was concluded. Make sure you read the whole story (linked below) before reading my points.

My approach to this was an odd dichotomy — I already concluded in November that Paterno lost the moral standing to be head football coach, but I feel he has been unfairly scapegoated and made at focus of this scandal when there are several people, namely Gary Schultz, university president Graham Spanier (the contempt I have for him!) and of course, Sandusky who are far more culpable. Schultz, along with Tim Curley, athletic director, have yet to be fired and are on administrative leave and are charged with perjury. Apparently, that is less of a crime than actually reporting to them the Sandusky allegations.

Joe Paterno’s first interview since the Penn State-Sandusky scandalThe Post

How Sandusky, 67, allegedly evaded detection by state child services, university administrators, teachers, parents, donors and Paterno himself remains an open question. “I wish I knew,” Paterno said. “I don’t know the answer to that. It’s hard.”

Yes, Sanduksy was undetected for years by countless people, not just Joe Paterno.

“I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

That is certainly plausible and even reasonable, but I am not satisfied with it from the moral authority of college football. He should have followed up more and he admitted he did not. Paterno used the perception of being the morale authority of college football to build a tremendous amount power for himself and his program.

Paterno is accused of no wrongdoing, and in fact authorities have said he fulfilled his legal obligations by reporting to his superiors.

This is forgotten by many. Legal responsibility is a lower standard than moral responsibility though.

Nevertheless, the university Board of Trustees summarily dismissed him with a late-night phone call four days after Sandusky’s arrest. At about 10 p.m., Paterno and Sue were getting ready for bed when the doorbell rang. An assistant athletic director was at the door, and wordlessly handed Sue a slip of paper. There was nothing on it but the name of the vice chairman of trustees, John Surma, with a phone number. They stood frozen by the bedside in their nightclothes, Sue in a robe and Paterno in pajamas and a Penn State sweatshirt. Paterno dialed the number. Surma told Paterno, “In the best interests of the university, you are terminated.” Paterno hung up and repeated the words to his wife. She grabbed the phone and redialed.

“After 61 years he deserved better,” she snapped. “He deserved better.”

Paterno did deserve better, much better than the way this was handled. Still, there was no way he could have been on the sidelines again. I remember the saying from Russell Frank’s media ethics class — if it appears you have a conflict of interest, you have a conflict of interest. I said initially, that Paterno should have resigned outright as soon as the scandal broke because 1.) he still had some moral authority left 2.) show the administration that failed everyone, except Jerry Sandusky, the way out the door. The board should have put Paterno on administrative leave — it was good enough for two administrators, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley who had in the eyes of the prosecution perjured themselves. Graham Spanier, the former university president, who should have been terminated based on his complete refusal to engage in crisis management, resigned just before the board would have fired him.

Paterno was initially reluctant to speak because “I wanted everybody to settle down,” he said. But he is so eager to defend his record that he insisted on continuing the interview from his bedside Friday morning, though ill. He was hospitalized for observation later in the day due to complications from the chemo but, according to the family, had improved by Saturday morning.

Remember, Spanier, canceled Paterno’s regular Tuesday press conference after the allegations broke. Spanier’s only other action — publicly supporting Schultz and Curley.

What Penn State officials knew about Sandusky and when is the subject of no fewer than five formal investigations. They range from state Attorney General Linda Kelly’s criminal investigation of Sandusky, to an NCAA inquiry, to Penn State’s in-house inquiry led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh. The best-case scenario is that the institutional leaders were guilty of blindness, and an unfeeling self-absorption. The worst case is a criminal cover-up to protect a wealthy university’s reputation.

Yup. By the way, I have serious concerns about the attorney generals who investigated this case — why has the Second Mile where the alleged victims were found by Sandusky, been a bigger focus than Penn State?

On a Saturday morning in 2002, an upset young assistant coach named Mike McQueary knocked on Paterno’s door to tell him he had witnessed a shocking scene in the Penn State football building showers. Until that moment, Paterno said, he had “no inkling” that Sandusky might be a sexual deviant. By then Sandusky was a former employee, with whom Paterno had little to do. Although Sandusky had been his close coaching associate and helped fashion Penn State defenses for three decades, their relationship was “professional, not social,” as Paterno described it. “He was a lot younger than me.”

This is an important point missed by many outside of the immediate Penn State community — Sandusky and Paterno were not friends. I do not believe Paterno socialized with any of his coaching staff.

Sandusky retired in 1999, shortly after Penn State made the Alamo Bowl. The timing was curious. Paterno’s understanding was that Sandusky took early retirement on his recommendation after Paterno told him frankly that he would not become his successor. The state was offering 30-year employees a handsome buyout, and Paterno believed Sandusky should take it. Paterno was frustrated that Sandusky spent so much time working on his youth foundation, The Second Mile, that he was not available to help in recruiting and other coaching duties…

“He came to see me and we talked a little about his career,” Paterno said. “I said, you know, Jerry, you want to be head coach, you can’t do as much as you’re doing with the other operation. I said this job takes so much detail, and for you to think you can go off and get involved in fundraising and a lot of things like that. . . . I said you can’t do both, that’s basically what I told him.

Concerns about Sandusky’s dueling commitments was also cited as a reason Sandusky was unable to get hired for the University of Virginia opening.

Paterno insists he was completely unaware of a 1998 police investigation into a report from a Second Mile mother that Sandusky had inappropriately touched her son in a shower. The inquiry ended when the local prosecutor declined to bring charges. “You know it wasn’t like it was something everybody in the building knew about,” Paterno said. “Nobody knew about it.”

This was one of my big questions when the story break — who knew in 1998 and was a deal made to let Sandusky retire “honorably” instead of pressing charges? The answer is Paterno did not know and thus was not part of any “deal” with Sandusky. Had he been, I’d be asking for the statue to come down.

Paterno contends that ignorance was the context with which he heard McQueary’s disturbing story in 2002…“He was very upset and I said why, and he was very reluctant to get into it,” Paterno said. “He told me what he saw, and I said, what? He said it, well, looked like inappropriate, or fondling, I’m not quite sure exactly how he put it. I said you did what you had to do. It’s my job now to figure out what we want to do. So I sat around. It was a Saturday. Waited till Sunday because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. And then I called my superiors and I said: ‘Hey, we got a problem, I think. Would you guys look into it?’ Cause I didn’t know, you know. We never had, until that point, 58 years I think, I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn’t feel adequate.”

Legally, Paterno correct in reporting it to his superiors. He did put a lot of thought into it, but still came to a conclusion that was, in mind, insufficient.

At that point, Paterno set up a meeting for McQueary and Curley, the athletic director, and Schultz, who oversaw university police. McQueary has testified that he gave both men a far more graphic description of what he witnessed…Schultz and Curley have maintained that McQueary failed to impart the seriousness of what he saw to them as well. They never told police about the allegation, instead informing Sandusky he could no longer bring children to university facilities.

Currently, the prosecutors agree with McQueary’s assessment and that is why Curley and Schultz are accused of perjury.

Paterno has said, “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.

Paterno’s portrait of himself is of an old-world man profoundly confused by what McQueary told him, and who was hesitant to make follow-up calls because he did not want to be seen as trying to exert any influence for or against Sandusky. “I didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “And rather than get in there and make a mistake . . .”

Paterno wasn’t always so reluctant to put in a call on some things and the “old-world man” idea is in a way choosing to be blind to something. That’s a tough spot, that I can’t come to a conclusion on. Not wanting to mess up an investigation?

According to Sollers, the attorney, Paterno has no legal exposure in the Sandusky case. Paterno has cooperated fully with the investigation, and has “met on multiple occasions voluntarily” with representatives from the attorney general’s office, Sollers said. “In my judgment Coach Paterno has no legal liability in this matter. In fact, he acted completely appropriately in reporting the only allegation he received to his superiors and had every expectation that the allegation would be investigated thoroughly.”

Like I said earlier, legal and moral are two different things. That’s Paterno’s attorney speaking too.

The Paternos say they think about the real potential victims every time they look at their own children. “I got three boys and two girls,” Paterno said. “It’s sickening.” His knee-jerk response is to go back to Flatbush. “Violence is not the way to handle it,” he said. “But for me, I’d get a bunch of guys and say let’s go punch somebody in the nose.” Sue Paterno is more blunt. “If someone touched my child, there wouldn’t be a trial, I would have killed them,” she said. “That would be my attitude, because you have destroyed someone for life.”

Other people’s kids, well he’d just tell his bosses and hope for the best it seems.

The Sandusky investigation has torn apart a cloistered town-and-gown community where everyone knows everyone — including Sandusky.

The university community there and elsewhere is fighting itself over this scandal.

If nothing else, the Paternos say, perhaps the Sandusky case will raise consciousness in other communities the way it has been raised in theirs. “We are going to become a more aware society,” Sue said. “Maybe we will look for clues.” She wonders what signs she missed all those years, when they felt so successful and sure of themselves.

Hardly an original thought, but true nonetheless (see, Bernie Fine)

It remains to be seen, barring any new revelations, whether there will be a reappraisal of Paterno’s life and record at Penn State. Eventually, his family hopes, there will be healing and forgiveness in the community, and the outlines of the man they insist Paterno is, and not the monument or monumental target, will reemerge: A modest, decent, fundamentally devoted coach who always loved books more than money.

I think he will be remembered more charitably as we move away from this, but the first paragraph of his obituary will have “Jerry Sanduksy” in it.

Paterno’s record is not perfect. Anyone who won on his scale has an ungenerous competitive streak and nascent ego. His love for higher learning — he likes to name-drop Puccini and Virgil — could tip over into superiority. He could show a temper, as he did in 1995 when a camera caught him delivering a profane on-field tirade.

Really, the Doug Graber “incident” gets brought up?

His football program was not immune to the problems of big-time college athletics. An ESPN inquiry found that from 2002 to 2007, 46 Penn State football players faced criminal charges. But he liked working with problem cases and turning them around. “Hotshots,” he still calls them today. The 2007 team had 19 players who earned Academic all-Big Ten honors. “The bigger the problem the guy was, the more I enjoyed it when we had success,” he said.

That ESPN 46 players inquiry was full on inaccuracies and perhaps overblown. Basically, the football team had a “a drinking and fighting problem” that was not unique to football players at Penn State. Does that excuse it, of course not. Was it bad, yes, but it wasn’t exactly the Luther Campbell Hurricanes either.

His philosophy was simple. “My thing was play as hard as you can, don’t be stupid, pay attention to details, and have enough guts in the clutch that you’re not afraid to make a play,” he said. “

In the Jerry Sandusky matter, did Joe Paterno live by that philosophy? My conclusion is, sadly, he did not live up to it.

The moral I take from the whole story is if you see something going wrong, make sure you do everything you can to get the right people involved, namely the police. Don’t count on superiors or anybody else to do it for you.

FURTHER READING

CHAT: Joe Paterno interview: Sally Jenkins discusses her talk with ex-Penn State coach -The Post
Penn State Football: 65 Days Later, Why Jenkins Got the Call From PaternoStateCollege.com
Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins talks to ComRadio – ComRadio

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Tom Bradley continues representing Penn State well as he prepares to leave it

Outgoing coach Tom Bradley’s full statement: “Penn State will always have my support”CDT
Tom Bradley, past interim coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, is likely going to be elsewhere moving forward. A lifer at Penn State, starting as a player and then a graduate assistant, position coach, defensive coordinator and ultimately interim head coach is one of the only people to have emerged from the Jerry Sandusky scandal more highly regarded than previously. He had the unenviable task of taking over for a legend, holding the job he always wanted under terrible circumstances with little or no chance of keeping it. He held his head high, represented the program well and even beat Ohio State. Of the Penn State coaches, he is the one who got the rawest deal and he did not let it outwardly effect him.

I’m still working on my Bill O’Brien post, I’ll have it in the next day or so.

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