LaVar Arrington ‘moved to tears’ over Sandusky allegations

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As the fallout from one of the worst — check that, the worst – scandal to ever hit college football continues, former Penn State players who were coached by Jerry Sandusky are struggling to come to grips with the child sex abuse allegations against the once-iconic assistant.

One of those players, LaVar Arrington, also happens to host his own radio show in the Washington D.C.  area.  On Monday, the former All-American linebacker took to the airwaves for what appeared to be one part discussion on the issue, one part therapy session in an attempt to make sense of a senseless crime and a reprehensible coverup.

“I always saw [Sandusky] giving back, I always saw him as being a part of the community, I always saw him working with kids and caring about them,” Arrington said by way of the Patriot-News.

“So when I heard about this information, when all of these allegations hit … it totally, and when I say totally, it totally took me off-guard. I was moved to tears. I looked at my children.”

Arrington’s final season at Penn State was 1999, which coincided with Sandusky’s last year on Joe Paterno‘s coaching staff, retiring after 31 seasons so that he could focus on running the children’s charity he had founded — and allegedly used  to come into contact with his eight victims — two decades prior.  One of Arrington’s teammates was Mike McQueary, who the Patriot-News named as the then-graduate assistant who, per the grand jury’s indictment, witnessed Sandusky engaged in anal sex with a 10-year-old in the shower of the Lasch Football Building in 2002.

While discussing the role of the football program in this mess, Arrington seemed to be struggling with the idea that McQueary, who is currently the Nittany Lions’ wide receivers coach, did nothing in the moment to stop Sandusky’s alleged sexual assault of a minor male.

“I know Mike [McQueary]. Mike was my quarterback,” Arrington said.

 “I know him. So I’m trying to understand, how do you, and again, maybe he felt as though it would be better suited if it came from Coach Paterno. … I’m going to tell you right now, I gotta stop that [assault]. 

 “Even if it’s, ‘Coach [Sandusky], I gotta stop you. …  I gotta take this to Coach Paterno right now’. This is not good, oh my gosh, this is not good.”

Arrington added: “The natural instinct that would kick in, if I saw a child being violated, and I don’t care who they are, I don’t care who the person is that would be doing that. If you’re an adult and you are violating a child, all reputations, all everything, all that goes out the door. 

“If that was Coach Paterno, like, ‘Coach, what are you doing? … You gotta come, you gotta come sit your [butt] down right here, I’m calling the cops’.”

It should be noted that McQueary took the information, after discussing what he had allegedly witnessed with his father, to Paterno, who passed what was he was told by the assistant up the administrative chain of command.

How the administrators, from athletic director Tim Curley all the way up to president Graham Spanier, handled the information is the saddest part of the whole sordid story, outside of the heinous crimes for which Sandusky has been charged.  Why Paterno, one of the most powerful and respected men in the state of Pennsylvania, did not go to the authorities with the information when it became clear his bosses had decided to keep it in house, under the rug, remains unclear.  Why McQueary, as eloquently argued by Arrington, did nothing in the moment to prevent a young boy from being further sodomized is likely only answerable by the assistant himself.

At the very least, individuals from the coaching staff on up through the upper levels of the university were aware that a naked 50-something man was seen in a shower on the university’s campus with a naked 10-year-old boy.  That wasn’t enough to bring the authorities into the loop, especially after a similar on-campus incident of which the administration was aware had taken place in 1998?

“Innocent or not, this is just … it’s just bad,” Arrington said

Paterno will conduct his weekly teleconference with reporters Tuesday, although a release sent out Monday evening by the school stated “that primary focus of the teleconference is to answer questions related to Penn State’s Senior Day game with Nebraska this Saturday.”  Yeah, good luck with that; Paterno will be peppered with questions about the scandal as he’s the face of the university.

And that’s another sad, sordid facet of this embarrassing mess: where is Graham Spanier?  Why is an 84-year-old man the only face of a situation that’s tainted an entire institution?  Where is Spanier’s leadership?  Outside of an stomach-turning statement of unconditional support for Curley and another top school official after they were charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, Spanier has been unavailable, for all intents and purposes in hiding as he allows his head football coach to take the slings and arrows of the local and national media.

Leadership failed those eight victims through their inaction and active coverup — allegedly — nine years ago.  Now, nearly a decade later, that same leadership is failing just as miserably.  Failing the alumni, failing current students and faculty, failing the moral compass on which the university has prided itself all these years.

May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State. 

That’s the final stanza of the school’s alma mater.  Thanks to Spanier and Curley and the like, an edit is in order.

A.J. Brown powers Ole Miss to Egg Bowl win over No. 15 Mississippi State

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No. 14 Mississippi State lost their quarterback, lost the game, lost the Egg Bowl trophy and lost a year’s worth of rivalry trash talk in one fell swoop on a chilly Thanksgiving evening at home. To add insult to injury, they lost all that at the hands of a Starkville native to boot as star receiver A.J. Brown powered Ole Miss to their sweetest victory of the year over their in-state rivals 31-28.

The Rebels needed just three plays and 39 seconds to open the scoring in what was perhaps the team’s best all-around game in several weeks, showing no signs of any tryptophan-induced sluggishness following a traditional turkey day meal. Brown finished the game with 167 yards receiving and a 77 yard touchdown to cap off a terrific return to his hometown in opposing colors, while tailback Jordan Wilkins also chipped in with another 110 yards and two scores on the ground to pace the offense.

The old Landshark defense also made an appearance, with the second worst team in all of FBS when it came to forcing turnovers managing to secure a whopping five turnovers and three sacks.

While the loss was undoubtedly disappointing for the Bulldogs, most of the team’s attention was on their star quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald. He entered the game on the verge of another 2,000 yard passing/1,000 yard rushing season but was tackled awkwardly on a three yard run early in the first quarter. Replays showed his ankle to be facing a much different direction than it should as part of a gruesome scene and the signal-caller was carted off to the team’s medical facilities shortly thereafter amid a raucous applause from fans on both sides.

Fitzgerald later returned to the sidelines to cheer on his teammates but it certainly appears that his promising season is over as Mississippi State turns their attention to a bowl game in the coming weeks.

Stepping in at quarterback was freshman Keytaon Thompson, who was much more of a threat with his legs than his arm until a few late drives. He finished the night with 195 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a team-high 121 yards rushing (with another score) in relief. Tailback Aeris Williams managed to rack up 82 yards and a score but faced a stacked line of scrimmage at every turn given the injury to his veteran teammate.

While the injury to Fitzgerald overshadowed the game, the backdrop of Ole Miss’ NCAA infractions case loomed large over the rivalry as much as the game itself. The two schools’ fan bases have been quite chippy and MSU linebacker Leo Lewis — a central figure in the case — was kept in check to the tune of two tackles and a half a sack as the Rebels didn’t attack him like some thought they would.

Perhaps more pressing to some Bulldogs fans is if that was the last Egg Bowl they would see with head coach Dan Mullen patrolling the sidelines. His name has been linked to openings at Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska and others in the past few weeks and there is a growing expectation that the most successful coach in school history could have just donned the maroon and white for the final time in a loss.

That’s of no concern across the way as interim coach Matt Luke did a good job rallying the team to their sixth win of the season. The Rebels are not bowl eligible as part of self-imposed sanctions but the satisfaction of beating their rivals probably takes the sting out of that fact just a little bit, especially with a Starkville native like Brown leading the way on Thursday night.

Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald suffers gruesome ankle injury to spoil first half of the Egg Bowl

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The Egg Bowl has returned to Thanksgiving but the game hasn’t gone quite as planned for No. 14 Mississippi State, as they trail Ole Miss 10-6 after a low-scoring first half of play thanks to a shocking injury that brought both sides of the heated rivalry to their feet in unison.

That came early in the first quarter when Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was tackled after a three-yard run, suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the process that saw his foot point in a direction it certainly wasn’t supposed to. He was put in an air cast and carted off the field to perform x-rays immediately afterward and needless to say will not return to the game.

The productive signal-caller was just 1-of-5 passing with an interception and 16 yards rushing when he went down with the injury. Fitzgerald was approaching the 2,000 yard passing and 1,000 yard rushing marks for the season heading into the game and received plenty of support from his fellow football players around the SEC and beyond after suffering such a horrific-looking injury that appears to knock him out for the rest of 2017.

Freshman Keytaon Thompson replaced Fitzgerald behind center and went 3-of-5 passing for 32 yards and an interception. He’s known for his running ability at this stage and did manage a team-high 65 yards on the ground, including a 32 yard scamper. Running back Aeris Williams was fairly limited facing a stacked box against a new quarterback and ran for 41 yards in the half as turnovers (three of them) really hampered MSU in the half.

With Ole Miss ineligible for postseason play even if they won on Thursday night, it was not at all surprising to see the Rebels play better than they have in a long time. The team needed just three plays and 39 seconds on their opening possession to find the end zone and were punching far above their weight defensively too. Wide receiver A.J. Brown was the big play threat once again for the offense, with five catches and 90 yards after just a half of play. In the process, he set a new school single-season record for receiving yards and joined kicker Greg Wunderlich (all-time school leader in FG’s) in the record books for the visitors as they look to  get a little bit of payback for last year’s 55-20 loss in Oxford.

The two programs have split the last six meetings in the hotly contested Egg Bowl rivalry and both appear locked into another close one after a half of play. It’s too bad that an injury to an all-SEC player had to spoil things early on but both the Bulldogs and the Rebels will have to put that behind them as they emerge from the locker room hoping to secure a win after years worth of bad blood.

Odell Beckham Jr. gifts LSU players recently unveiled custom shoes ahead of regular season finale

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LSU has produced plenty of NFL stars in recent years but few identify with the Tigers quite like New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. does. The Baton Rouge native recently released his first “lifestyle” shoe with Nike last week and has been hitting the press circuit almost as hard as the rehab room as a result to showcase the new kicks.

Not one to forget where he went to school and blossomed into a first round pick, Beckham filmed a video for LSU’s football team this week and really gave the Tigers something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving by giving every player on the team a version of the shoe to wear when they’re suiting up in cleats.

The color isn’t quite a true match for LSU gold but it’s certainly pretty close and even comes with the longitude and latitude of Baton Rouge inscribed. You can probably bet that the team will be wearing them to Tiger Stadium prior to taking on Texas A&M on Saturday in the regular season finale for both sides.

Wisconsin breaking out the plaid in battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe against Minnesota

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No. 5 Wisconsin continues to play for an undefeated record and hold out hopes of making it into the College Football Playoff this week but the Badgers are also chasing something pretty important too when they take on Minnesota on Saturday: Paul Bunyan’s Axe. One of the best rivalry trophies in the sport has resided in Madison for the past 13 years but might carry on bigger implications given what’s at stake for the visitors when they arrive in Minneapolis, especially facing off against a Gophers team hoping to make it to a bowl game with another win.

Paul Chryst and company aren’t just treating this as any other Big Ten game however and teaming up with Under Armour to go well beyond ludicrous… and all the way to plaid. Well, “lumberjack plaid” to be precise, as the accents on their uniforms, gloves and shoes will all have a different spin on their normal colors.

While it’s a subtle difference, it is a pretty slick look for the Badgers as they take on their rivals. No word yet on what P.J. Fleck and the home team will break out in response but hopefully they rise to the occasion that the Axe commands.