Blog Entry

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:33 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me on Twitter at BFeldmanCBS:

From @ajohnymous  Is the PSU thing the biggest CFB scandal of all time? Biggest sports scandal?

Yes, I can't think of a bigger college scandal. As I wrote earlier this week, we in sports throw around the term "scandal" for things like the free tattoos mess at Ohio State or Reggie Bush and his family getting taken care of, those things are nothing compared to the damage that has allegedly been done by Jerry Sandusky to so many children. SMU got the NCAA's death penalty and even the circumstances around that and the shocking nature of it all pale in comparison to this.


In Sandusky, you had a guy who had meant so much to the Penn State program and then you start reading about what he has allegedly done for years and years, turning so many children into victims, it's disgraceful. But there were also so many people in positions of leadership there that buried their heads in the sand. This is one of those situations where there really is so much blame to go around. It is so tragic.

Adding to that, is you have this iconic figure in Joe Paterno. For all of the wonderful things Paterno did for Penn State and that community--raising millions for the school library, graduating such a high percentage of his players, he always seemed to epitomize doing things "the right way" yet people will never forget this week. That he was fired for his role in not doing enough. That when he first learned that Sandusky, this monster was such a danger to little boys, he did not do enough. 

  There has been a lot of debate about exactly what Paterno was told and when about his former long-time assistant. But what I can't get beyond is, as soon as the 28-year-old graduate assistant, Mike McQueary comes to Paterno's home that Saturday morning in 2002, and even if he only says these words: "Sandusky... 10-year old boy... showers... Friday night... Penn State football offices..."  you have to be so disturbed and outraged that you have to press for more details.
And, no one ever looked for that 10-year old boy?

Remember Paterno testified that he did receive "the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset" and reported to his AD that his assistant had witnessed "Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy." Remember Paterno is the most powerful man at that school and yet Sandusky, almost a decade later, was still allowed to be around the Penn State football complex as recently as this month? How was that possible?

The school's handling of the situation only seemed to stoke the volatility of the whole thing this week.  You had Penn State president Graham Spanier's statement of "unconditional support" for AD Tim Curley and the other top school official after they'd been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a minor.  You had the school issuing its statement that, while Paterno would have his regularly scheduled Tuesday press conference, questions about anything other than the weekend's game were off-limits, which indicated how little Penn State PR grasped the magnitude of the story around them. Even in the wake of the Board of Trustees announcement that Paterno was out immediately as the school's head coach, when word got out that McQueary was still going to be allowed to coach in this weekend's game, it only fed into more outrage because people couldn't grasp how the guy who had actually witnessed the heinous act and ran and called his father was allowed to coach, yet Paterno wasn't. 

We are talking about such a proud fanbase and a school whose identity is so tied into one man in Paterno that has only added more fuel to this story on top of all that.
Earlier Friday morning after I re-tweeted a link to an interview on Good Morning America with one of the victim's parents, the link was titled "PSU victim's mother speaks" a Penn State grad asked me: 

"Why does it say "PSU victim's" Shouldn't it say Jerry Sandusky's victim?"

I didn't label the initial tweet, but while Sandusky is at the root of all of this, given how Penn State mishandled this for so long after there was an eye witness a decade ago, this is more than just Sandusky that victimized people there.

From @michaelgraham  How is Gene Smith still the AD at Ohio State?

  Gordon Gee and Ohio State have stood by Smith as he's botched almost every aspect of that investigation for the past 11 months. Both of them have really stumbled all over the place. Remember that "poster child for compliance" comment from Gee? Smith's close connection to power brokers at the NCAA, though, seems to help Ohio State in getting a favorable verdict down the line.

  Despite all of the school's public proclamations, OSU did get hit with the dreaded Failure to Monitor charge by the NCAA Thursday and Gee, the school president, did chastise Smith for failing to ensure that its now-banished booster Bobby DiGeronimo didn't keep his distance from the Buckeye players and the program. But Gee seems adamant about keeping Smith in spite of his handling of things in the past year.

From @NAFOOM  pecking order for open HC jobs? PSU, Ole Miss, FAU, tOSU, Zona all I can think of right now.

You left out Tulane and New Mexico. The merits of coaching jobs will vary depending on which coach and his background is doing the gauging because familiarity is a big key often in a guy's success at a program. 

I'll rank the current vacancies this way: Ohio State, Penn State, Arizona, Ole Miss, FAU, Tulane, New Mexico.

Ohio State - Yes, it has the ongoing NCAA investigation but still has top-notch facilities and history.

Penn State - The cloud of what has happened around this program will linger for a very long time.

Arizona - Improving facilities, solid but not great football history, close to fertile SoCal recruiting base.

Ole Miss - In a big league with some solid JC recruiting talent nearby but still in a conference where you're far from the legion of heavyweights in the SEC fighting the uphill battle. And it'd be easier to win the Pac-12 at Arizona than it would win the SEC at Ole Miss.

FAU - Nice new stadium in a small league but surroundied by lots of talent.

Tulane - Shaky support where you wonder how committed the school is to football but there is some good recruiting in the area.

New Mexico - In a better league than FAU but doesn't have the recruiting base near by.
    From @VLOHokie how come VT's David Wilson, the Nation's leading rusher isn't getting any Heisman talk? 

Wilson is terrific. I mentioned this Thursday night on our Inside College Football show on CBS Sports Network: Wilson won't win the Heisman this year but he is deserving of consideration to get to NYC for the ceremony. He's been consistently outstanding. The biggest thing working against him is he's done it a bit off the radar. Va. Tech's really not been able to get people's attention nationally this year. The Hokies have only played one ranked team all season, No. 13 Clemson and they lost 23-3 at home. Wilson did put up nice numbers (123 yards) but he had a fumble that set up the Tigers first score. If they'd won that game, things for Wilson might be a little different but it didn't happen.

From @ TimValenzuela  Bruce, will USC be a contender for the Pac 12 South title next year when they get off their postseason ban? Enjoy your work.

Even if Matt Barkley and Matt Kilil both leave early for the NFL, USC has the personnel in place to be a favorite in the South in 2012. I suspect Kalil is gone. I think with Barkley it's 50-50 right now. He's going to school with his siblings. He's close to home and it seems like he loves being a college kid. Plus, the appeal of getting to take USC back from the NCAA sanctions after having been one of the faces of the program as it deals with all of that stuff in the rebuilding effort would be tempting I imagine.

With Barkley, this would be a BCS title contender considering the bulk of the young O-line returns, and Robert Woods and an impressive group of young receivers comes back. The defense should continue to improve as well. They're basically starting all freshmen linebackers now. The best DB, Nickell Robey, is just a sophomore and they're redshirting a bunch of blue-chip D-linemen.

Without Barkley, it'll be an interesting battle between Jesse Scroggins, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. All three came to USC as big-name recruits but the drop-off from the three-year starter running the show would be significant. My hunch is it'd be the difference between a BCS title contender and a borderline top 20 team.

From @chucktodd actual football? How is Miami 10 point dogs?

FSU is home and has been more consistent over the past month. Miami's defense has been very shaky. The Canes do have two wins over teams that were ranked when UM faced them (No. 17 Ohio State and No. 22 Ga. Tech) and that's two more ranked wins than FSU has this season. Then again, those two games were at home. The Canes also have lost two of their three road games this year.

From @KBourgeois43  RichRod to Tulane, any chance?

I doubt it. Just of the jobs that are already open (Arizona and Ole Miss) Rodriguez may be able to get a better job than Tulane. And, even if he doesn't get one of those two, many other better jobs will come open soon. I also wouldn't be surprised if UCF comes open at the end of the year and if Rodriguez can't get Zona or Ole Miss, I could see him being a good fit there in Orlando.

From @BruningCollin   Due to PSU, My cynicism is at an all time high. Longer tenure in the SEC? Mike Sherman at a&m, or Gary Pinkel at Mizzou?

Pinkel. He's done a lot more with Mizzou than Sherman has at A&M. Sherman's going to have to really step things up to ensure that he's at A&M beyond 2012.

Since: Mar 22, 2011
Posted on: November 12, 2011 5:19 pm

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

As is Jim Tressel of Ohio State a Republican conservative, is Joe Paterno also a conservative? There lies the parallel.

Since: Nov 12, 2011
Posted on: November 12, 2011 1:17 pm

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

Failure to Monitor?

If OSU is getting a failure to monitor for a some of the players receiving a few hundred dollars. But is the NCAA releasing their decision with the OSU investigation this week a play to show they are tough on programs so it isn't as notiWouldn't the Penn St. predicament also be a failure to monitor?

1) Sandusky remaining on the coaching staff after first allegations because he is one of the best defensive coordinators clearly shows the athletic department putting the success of the team above the safety of young people. This would be the same as if the sex offenses were against female students. Remember Colorado?

2) Sandusky being visible on site, participating in Penn State football camps, talking to recruits at games and being on site during visits still benefits the program in drawing players to the program. Again, his prescence is used to help the program being in top recruits and helping the remaining coaching staff maintain a winning program.

3) Keeping allegations a secret keeps the activities in the coaching staff (and moral compass) so incoming recruits cannot make a fully informed decisions in choosing the school they wish to attend. This benefits the recruiting and success of the football program. The NCAA would jump in in a second if a school was lying to recruits about being banned from participating in bowl games.

I could go on, but I think it is clear that keeping Sandusky around and keeping the abuse allegations in-house benefitted the football program at Penn State. Why is the NCAA keeping silent? Even if this is out of their domain, the silence of the NCAA comes across as condoning the actions within the atheletic department - at least it does to the victims of the abuse.

I know of what I'm speaking. I was sexually abused by my middle school football coach and the school covered it up and helped the coach get another job in another school district. I have also worked with other male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The victims preceive silence and condoning. When the powers that be "condone" the abuse, the boys feel like they are in the wrong and they retreat further into themselves instead of speaking out. They own the shame, guilt, embarrassment, and feel complicit in the crime instead of giving those emotions and responsibility back to where it belongs: the abuser.

Help the men and boys that were abused and help build the awareness of

Help hold all parties involved during the abuse, and the aftermath of the abuse, be held responsible for taking a public stance that helps these men and boys reclaim their lives.

Since: Nov 12, 2011
Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:09 am

Found on PSU Police Campus Website (Witsarcastic)

What is RAD? The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) System is a comprehensive self-defense system for women. The program includes awareness, prevention, risk reduction, and avoidance—as well as several maneuvers available to women during a confrontation or attack. In cases of rape of children, however, do not call the police or state officials, we'll take care of it ... Tom Harmon director of police campus needs to be fired ASAP. He failed the kids.

Since: Nov 11, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 6:01 pm

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

Did he confront the child molestor?

Since: Nov 11, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 5:59 pm

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal


Since: Oct 20, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:41 pm

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

This one is just is. There are no parallels, none. If you allow yourself to hypothesize what happened, exactly, when the assistant coach reported what he saw to Coach Paterno. Did he confront the child molestor? I can't get past there. No way he ignores it, just no way and I believe that will prove itself out. No matter what else happens, the fact the child molestor stayed, even for a day; boom.

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:53 pm

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

Although the "scandals" at Ohio State and at Penn State are markedly different in nature (as well as different from scandals in other places in CFB), it's worth pointing out that both coaches (Tressel and Paterno) seemed to make the same mistake:  They both failed to report the wrongdoing to people who could or would do anything about it.  Both of them seem to have believed that the information would hurt the ability of their teams to win games or maintain their national standing.  They put their need to protect their teams ("brands") ahead of what both men KNEW was "right thing to do."  They substituted their judgment of the situation for others', and a lot of people got hurt in the process.  All the talk about how playing football builds character and skills for a lifetime rings hollow when coaches fail to carry out their moral responsibilities.  These are my lingering questions:  Why did it take 9 years for McQueary's message to get through to the proper authorities?  Why didn't Paterno follow up on his own report of the incident?    

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