Thursday, June 28, 2012

PSU: Post Sandusky Update

Author's Note:  If you have strong feelings about Penn State and the University's role in this scandal, to the extent that you think Penn State is responsible in some way for what happened, please stop reading now.  Click the back button on your browser and get away from this.  I will not convince you otherwise, and I will probably only anger you further.  I'm talking to you too, Rodney Erickson.  You will not apologize for this blog. 

I have been, perhaps conspicuously, quiet about the Sandusky trial.  Truth be told, it is not football related--and barely PSU related, despite what the mass media would have us believe.  Moreover, I use this blog to vent MY frustrations, and many of you won't agree with my opinions on this matter.  I also like to use humor to deal with the adversity of life, but this is not a subject where the material lends itself to humor.

But the verdict is in and many folks (not necesarily in this blog but in the real world) have asked me about my thoughts.

The following is my "stream of consciousness" ramblings about the subject.

First, I am glad he was found guilty.  BUT . . . I will admit that I was secretly hoping that the whole thing was a concocted sham by the victims and that they weren't really victims after all.  It was a long stretch, but I was holding out hope that McQueary didn't really see what he thought he saw.  And let's face it, even after all the testimony, we don't know what he really saw.  I'm not sure he knows what he saw.  And he may have relayed different stories to different people (Paterno, his father, Dr. Dranov, etc.)--if not different stories, at least different ways of describing what he thought he saw.  For what should have been a defining moment in his life, he apparently couldn't pinpoint the day or even THE YEAR it happened.  The jury didn't even convict Sandusky of rape in that instance, so apparently it wasn't clear to them either.

You Can't Handle the Truth!
 In the absence of a fraud, I would have settled for Sandusky taking the stand and having a Colonel Jessup style meltdown, telling us all that we can't handle the truth before blurting out his confession for all the world to hear.  But alas, he took the stand not.

Perhaps I watch too much CSI and Law and Order, but I was really unimpressed by the "evidence."  Obviously, these events happened years ago so there won't be security cameras capturing Sandusky walking into the building with a kid in tow.  There won't be DNA evidence because no child ever reported the crime at a time when such evidence could have been obtained.  I thought it interesting that the defense brought to light that the police may have "led" the victims in their testimony, but let's be perfectly clear about all this:  just about everyone, including myself, felt that he is guilty.  But that doesn't make him guilty, and in my mind there is a small amount of doubt that Sandusky is guilty of a crime.  He showered inappropriately with young boys and tickled them . . . but did that inappropriate behavior actually cross the line to illegal behavior?  Apparently the jury thought so.

I also felt Sandusky reacted strangely for an innocent man.  Seriously.  If I were being put away for the rest of my life and I was truly innocent, I'd be a little more outspoken about it.  I'd be shouting out my innocence as they dragged me away.  I think maybe we a got a shrug. 

This verdict is nothing to cheer about.  I was amazed by the number of people that showed up at the courthouse to applaud the verdict, as though this were something to celebrate.  If Sandusky is truly guilty, let's face that reality then:  that means that those atrocious acts did in fact occur, children suffered, and some administrators at Penn State probably dropped the ball in dealing with the "evidence" that they had available.  I still maintain that Joe did what he was supposed to do and should have done.  The police AND the DA were involved in 1998 but nothing materialized.  There is absolutely not one shred of evidence that police involvement in 2002--or was that 2001?--would have changed anything.  It's like Monday morning quarterbacking.  You know punting on fourth down didn't work, so you assume that going for it would have.  Since you already know one alternative was not viable--the punt failed--ANY other option would have more of a chance of succeeding.  But that doesn't mean the other options would have succeeded. 

And what about the mother of the kid that kept coming home without his underwear?  Where is the responsibility there?  What about the Second Mile?  Ray Gricar?  The police that investigated Sandusky in 1998 (but apparently never contacted his employer at that time?)  DA/Gov. Corbett?  A lot of people are to blame for not stopping Sandusky; Penn State as a well-endowed university happens to be the richest, so that's where the lawyers and media are focusing their drooling attention.

I have never understood this legal obligation of an employer or corporate entity to read the minds of employees and therefore be legally reponsible for inactions of said employees.  If a former WalMart employee sexually attacks a kid in a WalMart bathroom, does that really make WalMart responsible?  If a current employee sees that and reports it up the chain of command, is the head of sporting goods now responsible because the general manager did nothing?  Is the corporate headquarters financially responsible, even if they were never apprised of the situation???  How can you be held responsible for something you didn't know about?  Obviously, the employees should be held responsible for not reporting, but I just don't see how WalMart is in any way responsible for the crime itself, or anything the perpetrator does thereafter.

Only Curley and Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report a crime, and their cases haven't been tried yet.  It remains to be seen whether Spanier will become embroiled in this mess.  But I think it is absolutely ludicrous that Penn State should be "on the hook" for any settlement money.  In the final analysis, although the university "has money", those funds ultimately come from tax payers, tuition payers, and donors, none of whom are to blame for what happened and should not be punished.  Likewise, I don't believe that money donated to the Second Mile should be "up for grabs"--people donated that money as a charitable act.  If the Second Mile ceases to exist, that money should be donated to other causes (such as RAINN or organizations with goals similar to that of the Second Mile, ie to help disadvantaged children,) or returned to the original donors if possible.  I also feel the same way about the Catholic Church, but let's not go there in this discussion.

But suing Schultz and Curley won't get you very much.  Penn State has the money and presumably the insurance coverage (it's not really taxpayer or student tuition money--it's the insurance company that pays!--what a crock of shit that convoluted thinking is!), and therein is the primary justification for going after Penn State.  It really is not the University's fault that employees made bad decisions.  Punish them for the crimes that they committed (failure to report), not the acts of Sandusky. Arguing that Penn State could have stopped Sandusky is just as ludicrous as claiming you would have won the game had you not punted.  Maybe you would have.  Probably you wouldn't.

If a kid is abused in a hut in rural Montana, and the abuser has only the hut and the land that he lives on to his name, how does that kid get "compensation" for his suffering?  The obvious answer is that he does not.  But the kid suffers no less phsically and mentally.  It's just his bad luck that the abuser chose not to come to Penn State and be caught by an eye witness employee.  Ka-ching!

And BTW . . . No.  My children were not assaulted by Sandusky.  Would that change my mind?  That's a very good question.  Devious and unfair, but good.  I will answer it thusly . . .  NO.  It would not change my stance.  I don't really know how I would deal with that situation, but just as thousands of you KNOW with unassailable certainty you would have been so much more nobler than McQueary or Paterno even though you can't even begin to imagine yourself in that situation, I will definitely say NO.  The victims suffered horrible, heinous acts.  They deserve our sympathy and prayers.  Their suffering hasn't earned them a new vacation home or money for therapy at anyone's expense other than Mr. Sandusky.  He is the only one that did anything to them.

And to make matters worse, you have to deal with the frivolous suits as well.  Sari Heidenreich writes about two hoaxes already.  One claims to be a relative of former Wisconsin QB Bollinger, and the other claims to be the grandson of Joe Paterno.
The address listed on the Paterno paperwork was that of a Chuck E. Cheese's in Philadelphia. The address listed on the Bollinger paperwork was for a comedy club in Philadelphia.
And here I didn't think there was anything humorous about this situation.

It also irks me that there is so much disinformation still swirling in the media.

John Ziegler addresses some of these issues in an editorial.
This leads to the next misunderstanding surrounding how easy it would have been for Paterno or anyone else to pin a child molester label on Sandsky. Not only were there no other concurrent allegations (as far as we currently know, Penn State football was unaware of the 1998 investigation into an incident which prosecutors deemed unchargeable), but Sandusky was a local hero and ran a huge charity on which thousands of people relied. A false charge of child molester would have been devastating to many people and irreversible. It has been presumed that Paterno and others at Penn State looked the other way on Sandusky out of fear of damaging their precious program, but there are other rational interpretations of their hesitancy to go public.

It is also important to point out that, while he didn’t go public with McQueary’s story, contrary to widespread perception, Paterno did indeed go to the police (the head of the campus police) and his superior, just as the law required him to do so. Most people are as unaware of the basic fact as they are that Sandusky was a FORMER Penn State assistant at the time McQueary came to him. In Paterno’s mind Sandusky was no longer his responsibility.

Most people I speak to about this presume that Paterno took part in a cover up and placed the reputation of his football team over the well being of defenseless children. But just to be clear, as of today, there is zero evidence to back up this allegation. While numerous email are being made public which indicate other Penn State officials may have participated in a cover up, there is not even one relevant mention of Joe Paterno.
Yet, many people still insist that Joe Paterno chose image, fundraising and football over children.  More Monday morning quarterbacking.  So hey.  Let's wait and second guess O'Brien's decisions this fall, and not whether Penn State chose football over children. 

Of course, there are some that think that Penn State football should cease to exist or at least be sanctioned.

Kevin McGuire of the Examiner details why that won't happen.  Sorry Pitt.  In short . . .
While various coaches and athletic department and university staff officials do seem to have fallen short of upholding the law, no NCAA violations were covered up in the Sandusky scandal. While that will not sit well with most, this is the only reason the NCAA would take a look in to Penn State. Simply put, there is no NCAA case for sanctions here.
Nothing else to see here.  Move along.
Ultimately, our judicial system passed judgment.  I have seen people acquitted in the face of a lot more evidence, and there have probably been those found guilty on less.  For now, pending appeals, Sandusky is guilty and will be punished.  Eventually, the fates of Curley, Schultz and possibly Spanier (dare we throw in the BOT and governor Corbett?) will be sorted out in like fashion.  And we will have to endure the Civil Suits, our judicial system's version of the lottery, where the only real winners are the attorney's who get healthy cuts of the payouts without actually having to suffer like the victim's they represent.
Thank God football season starts in two months so we can get back to some real Monday morning quarterbacking.  I'm actually looking forward to this season.  If you've actually managed to survive this blog to this point, I hope you are looking forward to Penn State football too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Joes Were the Days My Friend

Friday, June 15, 2012

Coach K Denounces Penn State Leadership

From Piers Morgan:

"You had somebody who's given six decades of service to the university and done such an incredible job. Somehow, you have to let - something has to play out and respect the fact that you've gone through all these experiences for six decades," he insists. "It doesn't just go out the window right at the end. I thought it was a real mistake by Penn State's leadership."
I am still amazed at the number of people who want to tear apart Joe Paterno's reputation over this scandal.  It is quite clear from all the evidence that surfaced to date that Joe Paterno did not try to cover this up.  HE REPORTED THE INCIDENT TO HIS SUPERIORS.  A cover-up is when he promotes McQueary to assistant head coach with the stipulation that Mike "forget" about what he saw.  I have not seen or read anything to date that suggests Paterno ever omitted anything he knew or failed to report what he knew to his superiors.

But he didn't do enough.

Bull shit.  The world is appalled at what happened (dare I even suggest allegedly happened) and is looking for excuses.  We need someone to blame.

It's not the parents' fault.  Certainly not.  It's common for kids to stay overnight at other adults houses multiple times.

One messageboard poster wrote:

A message for parents that allow their kids sleep over at another adult's house more than 100 times: Don't do it. This is not normal behavior. Trying be [Try being] a good parent and look out for your kid's safety.
I really wanted to post a rebuttal:  It's not the parent's fault.  It's the fault of their kid's football coach!  But I didn't bother, because the sarcasm would probably be lost amidst the self-righteousness of the masses.

There was a systematic failue of society to do anything in this case, from the original DA Gricar, police who investigated the 1998 incident, parents of kids who should have been suspicious about invitations and gifts, school counselors, The Second Mile, Penn State administrators, and even guys like Lavar Arrington who--with the benefit of hindsight--wished they had done more.

Here's what Lavar had to say in the Washington Post:
So it’s mind-blowing to realize that a kid I took an active interest in during my time at school was suffering right in front of me and I had no idea that the pain allegedly came from someone in my own football program.

Now I can see it with so much more clarity, but at the time I thought we were his place of refuge from what he was going through at home or in school. As much as I saw and talked with him, I felt, in my own way, I was making a difference in his life.
It is mind blowing.  And it's outrageous.  It's normal to be indignant.  These were innocent kids for crying out loud.

But to blame Joe Paterno?  To blame Penn State University?  Grow up.  Get over yourself.  Maybe you are holier than the rest of us, but Joe Paterno did more than most human beings would have done in that same situation.

And you know what?  Blaming Joe doesn't help those victims one iota.  Maybe it makes you feel better, but that's just kind of sad.  Two wrongs don't make a right, and throwing out a six decade career like it never happened doesn't solve any moral dilemma here.

Firing coaches like Vanderlinden and Larry Johnson Sr. won't accomplish anything either.  Some are suggesting that.  Why should their careers suffer because of the actions of a man they had no control over?  If it comes out in evidence that they participated in some cover-up, then fire their asses.  But until then, what good comes of destroying their careers?  Is not the careers of McQueary and Tom Bradley--well, any assistants not named Vanderlinden or Johnson--not enough of a sacrifice for you self-righteous bastards?   I'm all for punishing the guilty. But I'm very leery of living in a country where we punish first, and then determine truth later.

Should we fire anyone employed by the University, from the janitors up to the Board of Trustees?  What about professors?  Did any of them know/suspect this?  One former BOT member insinuated that all the secretaries knew to keep their boys away from JS.  Maybe everyone in State College is to blame.

Do you see what has happened here?

There is one man to blame for all this, and he is currently on trial.  Our judicial system will judge his fate.

If you see someone speed by you on the highway, do you pull your car over and call the cops?  I doubt it.  But what if that speeder loses control of his car and kills a child.  An innocent child!  That can't protect him or herself!  And YOU could have done something to stop it.  Is that child's blood not on your hands?  Did you not have some moral responsibility to protect defenseless children?

As Phil Knight so eloquently said at Joe's memorial, there is a villain in this tragedy, and it is NOT Joe Paterno.  Direct your anger and righteous indignation at Jerry Sandusky or at the system in general.  But let's leave Joe to Rest in Peace.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Special Coach

The issue won't be settled for a while.  Only time will tell, and history will document the answer.

But for some, perhaps many, Penn State fans, the question has already been answered.

Is Coach Bill O'Brien the right man for the job?

There is no doubt that Paterno left behind very big shoes to fill, albeit plain black ones.  It would have been a difficult job for anyone to come into, the expectations so high, the pressure to succeed so great.  Even under the best of circumstances, few would be up to that kind of task.

But when you consider the actual circumstances--the scandal, the firing of a legend, and then the death of that legend, one would think a difficult position had become nearly impossible.

But Matt Hayes of The Sporting News thinks Penn State just might have found the perfect man for the job--one who thinks that kind of stress is nothing compared to what he deals with day in and day out.
The episodes come so often and so random, are so mind-numbing in their frequency, there’s never really an opportunity to reflect on the sheer terror of it all.
Multiple times every day, Jack O’Brien stops breathing.
“I’m always waiting,” Colleen O’Brien says. “Please take that breath. Take that breath.”
A breath of life, a breath of perspective.
“People ask me about pressure in this job,” says Bill O’Brien, Penn State’s new coach. “Really? Pressure?”
Here is Bill O’Brien’s view of pressure: His son, Jack, is 10 years old and has the rare neurological disorder Lissencephaly. He can’t walk or talk, can’t feed himself, can’t do things typical boys can do.
And he has seizures, sometimes 10 a day, and as many as thousands a year. From episodes that last seconds, to those that last minutes. All feel like hours, and every single one takes another piece of he and his wife Colleen’s punctured souls while they wait for their son—rigid and non-responsive—to eventually emerge from the place only he knows.
One man’s pressure, it seems, is another’s perspective.
Someone had to follow Joe Paterno; someone had to sit in that office across from that big stadium and eventually be the first fresh face on the sidelines in Happy Valley in nearly five decades.
Bill O’Brien is the man following the legendary icon that is JoePa. To the degree that football allows, O’Brien is the man helping to heal a community ripped apart by horrific allegations of child abuse by former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. The process of replacing Paterno began last November with the revelation of those unthinkable events.
The Sandusky trial begins Monday in this bucolic burg tucked in the central Pennsylvania mountains. The story, so distasteful and incomprehensible, is irreparably linked to Penn State football.
If ever there was a set up for failure, this is it.
Or is it?
Maybe, just maybe, this is the perfect situation: a cosmic convergence of the untenable beaten back by the unwavering. Who follows a coach who was the face of college football, who was fired in writing after the tentacles of the biggest scandal in college football history reached his office; who died from cancer (or was it a broken heart?) months later?
A man with a vise grip on perspective.
I have personally had the opportunity to listen to Bill O'Brien speak.  I have followed this transition with the same passion I have followed Penn State football for over three decades of my life.  I will be the first to admit that I was disappointed with the initial announcement.  I will also say that I have become impressed with this man who has taken the reins from Joe Paterno, or rather, picked them up in the void left after the unthinkable happened.  He has yet to actually coach a real game as the head coach at Penn State beyond a scrimmage, and perhaps he doesn't have the players we would like him to have on the field this fall, but I am excited to see what this man can do.

Maybe we're all just rationalizing things.  Maybe we're looking for the silver lining; grasping at straws, and hoping that the program we have known and loved, sweated and cried for, in success and in defeat, will once again rise from the ashes of this tragedy and bring pride back to Happy Valley--maybe bring happiness back to Happy Valley.

Maybe Matt McGloin isn't going to be Tom Brady.  Maybe the New England offense won't work at Penn State.  We don't have to look any further than South Bend for an example of a similar scenario gone bad.  The offensive guru of the Patriots comes in to a once-great program that has not been competitive for awhile, but then fails to get the train back on the tracks.

But the argument that McGloin isn't Tom Brady is as valid as the argument that Bill O'Brien isn't Charlie Weiss.  Penn State isn't New England, nor is it Notre Dame.

Maybe Penn State won't win the Big Ten Title this year.  Or the nest.  Or ever again.  Maybe National Championships are things we will talk about only in past tense, like the Irish.

But for now, it appears that we do have a good man for the job.

Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever could.  But somewhere down the road, a good man will do something good.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Unfortunate Initials

Coach O'Brien played in the 16th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament today.  I hope he had a better game than I did this morning.

To make matters worse, I went to mark my ball on the green, and realized I had pulled an old ball marker out of my bag by accident.

No.  The JS does not stand for Jerry Sandusky--I swear!

Years ago, in the late 1990's. I operated at Jersey Shore Hospital in, um, Jersey Shore, PA.  I played in a charity tournament, where I got the ball marker.

Seriously, here is their logo:

I played in a charity tournament a few weeks ago and actually won a prize for the straightest drive.  I only hit one ball straight all day, and it was on that hole--only a couple of inches from the line they paint in the center of the fairway.  Every blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

I won a set of 4 DVDs--Rip it 300 Yards by Ben Witter.

I haven't watched them yet.  I also haven't driven a ball 300 yards, although I came close today at hole #6 at Sylvan Hills.  I was inside the 100 yard marker after my drive--and I was still on the fairway.  But my short game sucks and I still ended up with a six.  As one of our foursome quipped, "anyone can screw up a bad drive."  It's really special to muck up a good one.

Survey Says . . .

According to multiple sources, including GoPSUsports, Coach O'Brien has tabbed Matt McGloin as his starting QB for this season.
O'Brien cited McGloin's consistency running the offense throughout spring practice as the driving force behind his decision to name the Scranton native the starter heading into the season.
"He (McGloin) was the most consistent guy throughout the spring," Coach O'Brien said. He has good command of the offense at this point. He's a tough kid. He's a competitive kid. He's shown good leadership qualities. I just felt like he is the No. 1 quarterback."

O'Brien added that it was very important to make the decision prior to training camp.

"When you go into training camp you have to make sure that one guy is getting the bulk of the reps," Coach O'Brien said. "You don't have time to give three guys equal reps. Also, in the summertime when the coaches aren't allowed to be around, you need to have leaders on both sides of the ball. Matt, being a quarterback, is a leader on the offensive side of the ball...Mostly, it's because you have to get one guy ready to play. You can't get three guys ready to play. And it's really hard to get two guys ready to play. So you have to have a starter, and then you go from there."

On the field, Coach O'Brien said that consistency in numerous areas pertinent to success at the quarterback position separated McGloin during the spring.
"His completion percentage, getting us in and out of the right plays, knowledge of the offense, being prepared in meetings, cutting down on his interceptions as spring ball went on," Coach O'Brien said. "He completed about 65 to 70 percent of his passes during the spring. He ran some of our situational stuff pretty well. He just did a very good job of being consistent."
When was the last time Penn State football fans heard their coach announce who the QB for the first game or the season was, before August . . . or September?  The reasons for doing so make sense--the primary guy gets the reps.  You know who your leader is.  Trying to get three (or more) guys ready is not practical.

Yet, there are those that can't shake the cock-sure attitude of McGloin or his penchant for throwing McSix Picks.

I personally had been leaning toward Jones, but that may have been wishful thinking.  The back-up QB always seems to be the most popular.  But if a man who can coach quarterbacks like Tom Brady thinks that McGloin was more knowledgeable about the offense and more prepared in meetings and had the better completion percentage on the field, then McGloin is my man too.

We don't know how close the battle was, nor do we know how far behind Bolden was, presumably, in third place.

Congratulations Matt!  Bring on the season!

What say you?  Are you Going with McGloin, or do you wish McGloin was going?