Sad situation in Happy Valley
It seems like whenever one thinks of a college football program that’s squeaky clean, the name Penn State quickly comes to the forefront. The Nittany Lions and their famed head coach Joe Paterno are what college football is all about.
Or at least it has been for the last half century until last weekend when allegations of an explosive child-sex abuse scandal related to former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky stunned the college football world.
Sandusky, 67, was arrested Saturday and released on $100,000 bail after being arraigned on 40 criminal counts.
By late Sunday night two top Penn State officials charged with covering up the incidents that reportedly occurred on campus back in 2002 stepped down after an emergency meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees.
According to foxsports.com Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley requested to be placed on administrative leave so he could devote the time needed to defend himself against perjury and other charges, university President Graham Spanier said. Gary Schultz, vice-president for finance and business, will step down and go back into retirement, Spanier said.
However, resignations of Paterno and Spanier weren’t discussed at the meeting, which was arranged Sunday and lasted two hours, university spokesman Bill Mahon said.
Curley and Schultz were charged Saturday after a grand jury investigation of Sandusky, who has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years.
Sandusky was once considered Paterno’s heir apparent, retired in 1999 but continued to use the school’s facilities for his work with The Second Mile, a foundation he established to help at-risk kids. Curley and Schultz were accused of failing to alert police, as required by state law, of their investigations into the allegations.
“This is a case about a sexual predator that used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,” state attorney General Linda Kelly said Saturday.
Paterno, who last week became the college football coach with the most wins in Division I history, wasn’t charged, and the grand jury report didn’t appear to implicate him in wrongdoing.
According to foxsports.com in a statement issued Sunday night Paterno said he was shocked, saddened and as surprised as everyone else to hear of the charges.
“If this is true, we were all fooled along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers,” Paterno said in a statement issued by his son, Scott.
Under Paterno’s four-decades-and-counting stewardship, the Nittany Lions became a bedrock in the college game. Fans packed the stadium in State College, a campus routinely ranked among America’s best places to live and nicknamed Happy Valley.
Paterno’s teams were revered for both winning games—including two national championships—and largely steering clear of trouble. As head football coach, Paterno has spent years cultivating a reputation for putting integrity ahead of modern college-sports economics.
Sandusky, whose defenses were usually anchored by tough-guy linebackers—hence the moniker “Linebacker U.”–spent three decades at the school. He drew up the defenses for the Nittany Lions’ national title teams in 1982 and 1986. The charges against him cover the period from 1994 to 2009.
The allegations against Sandusky, who started The Second Mile in 1977, range from sexual advances to touching and oral and anal sex. The young men testified before a state grand jury that they were in their early teens when some of the abuse occurred. There is evidence even younger children may have been victimized.
In a statement, The Second Mile said that to “our knowledge, all the alleged incidents occurred outside of our programs and events.” The group said it was never made aware of the allegations against Sandusky in the grand jury report.
There also reportedly is a faction in the State College vicinity that is calling for Paterno to resign because he didn’t confront Sandusky or do enough when made aware of the situation, including state police commissioner Frank Noonan.
But as soon as a graduate assistant personally told Paterno about the Sandusky incident, Paterno immediately followed the chain of command and went to Athletic Director Tim Curley and repeated to him what the graduate assistant had told him.
As far as this Korner is concerned, Paterno fulfilled his obligation in the scenario by turning the matter over to the university officials. Their failure to act shouldn’t be a reflection on Paterno, but it certainly puts a black eye on Penn State University.
KWICKIES…There won’t be many college football games that featured smash-mouth football like the one between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama Saturday night. Despite the fact the Bayou Bengals were a five-point under-dog, they played like the No. 1 team they are and came up a 9-6 overtime winner without a single touchdown being scored.
And speaking of the rankings, LSU maintained its No. 1 status in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll, No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Stanford each moved up one place while Alabama slipped down to No. 4. No. 5 Boise State, No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 8 Arkansas remained the same from last week while No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 Virginia Tech each jumped two notches from last week. Undefeated University of Houston came up three places to No. 11 while the Texas Longhorns returned to the Top 25 as No.21 this week.
Former West Orange-Stark standout wide receiver Mark Roberts is getting plenty of playing time as a true freshman with the undefeated (9-0) and No. 11-ranked University of Houston Cougars. Roberts caught one pass for 58 yards in the Coogs’ 56-13 drubbing of UAB Saturday in Birmingham, AL.
Another former WO-S Mustang, Earl Thomas, led the Seattle Seahawks with eight tackles Sunday in their 23-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington. The game showed how inept the Seahawks’ offense is with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Why Seattle didn’t try to keep veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck is beyond me.
With Missouri officially being welcomed to the Southeastern Conference, don’t be surprised if college football’s oldest traditional rivalry west of the Mississippi River—Missouri vs. Kansas– comes to a screeching halt. The two teams first met on the football field in 1891.
JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Texans came through with still another impressive victory Sunday when they overwhelmed the Cleveland Browns 30-12 to move three games over .500 for the first time in the franchise’s history with their 6-3 record. The Texans also maintained their hold on first place in the AFC South Division over the Tennessee Titans (4-4). A lot of credit must go to Orange native Wade Phillips, the Texans’ first-year defensive coordinator, whose team is surrendering just over 17 points per game. Houston travels to Tampa Bay Sunday before having its well-deserved bye week.