Penn State football quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno works the sideline with interim head coach Tom Bradley in the second half during their NCAA football game against Nebraska in State College

Bradley: didn’t watch Sandusky interview, hasn’t seen JoePa since firing


Given the child-sex abuse charges facing Jerry Sandusky and the controversy that’s erupted over how Penn State handled — or mishandled — the situation, it’s very easy to forget that the Nittany Lions are in the thick of the hunt for a spot in the inaugural Big Ten title game.  In fact, if Penn State wins out, they will represent the Leaders division in early December.

As hard as it is given the scandal that’s blanketed Happy Valley, interim head coach Tom Bradley is attempting to focus on what matters most to the players who had nothing to do with what’s going on off the field: this weekend’s game in Columbus.

It’s still Ohio State-Penn State,” Bradley said during what had been Joe Paterno‘s weekly meeting with the media. “I just want to emphasize, this is all about the players. It’s all about their team and all about our team … It’s going to be an exciting game, we’re both fighting for the title so there’s a lot of on the line. It will be very spirited matchup regardless of what’s going on outside.”

Of course, there was no avoiding everything else going on in and around the football program.

Sandusky, as you’ve no doubt heard or seen by now, conducted his first extensive interview since being arrested and charged with 40 counts relating to the sexual abuse of children.  Bradley was asked if he watched his former coaching contemporary further indict himself on national television.

“I’m not going to go there. I was watching Ohio State last night and I’ve got more important things right now,” Bradley said, also declining to answer questions about his past relationship with the alleged pedophile.

Bradley was also asked about his relationship with Paterno, who was fired six days ago in the midst of the controversy.  Bradley, who had been a member of Paterno’s staff for more than three decades, said he has not seen JoePa since the firing, and has only had one phone conversation since the board announced their decision last Wednesday.  And, apparently, that’s the way the coaching legend wants it.

“If I called him today, he’s going to ask me why I’m calling,” Bradley said. “He knows the importance of this. He’s been through this. … He knows the responsibility we have to Penn State, the players, the parents, their high school coaches. We made a commitment and we’re going to follow through with that.

“As I told the players, the expectations are the expectation. They have not changed. They know the ramifications of the way we’re heading here and the way we do things. I made it clear, if you step out of line I am going to come down fast and hard … They all know that.”

Bradley also hit on other issues, including…

— The future of assistant coach Mike McQueary, now on administrative leave: “I can’t answer that question due to what’s going on with the university and the ongoing investigation and things.”

— The Big Ten’s decision to take Paterno’s name off the conference’s championship trophy: “I just think it another part of a tragedy that’s occurring.”

— Any safety concerns he may have taking his football team into another city this weekend: “No, not at all.  We’ve been contacted by Ohio State.  I talked to Luke Fickell, [he] called me the other day; we’ve been assured there will be no problems.

— Any talk of Penn State not going to a bowl game: “That’s never come up.  I talked to [interim PSU president] Dr. [Rodney] Erickson, he’s talked to [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney.] We have been assured that is not the case for the bowl game.”



When did Nick Saban realize he missed college football? His ‘first press conference’ in Miami

Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban watches play   against the   Carolina Panthers   September 25, 2005 in Miami.  The Dolphins defeated the Panthers 27  to 24.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
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Yeah, he’s playing to, using the vernacular of the political season, his very fervent base, but it’s still not the least bit surprising.

When Nick Saban left LSU for the job with the Miami Dolphins in 2004, there were more than a couple of observers who were surprised the coach would leave the college game to get back into the NFL. When Saban, after infamously denying it, left the Dolphins to take the job at Alabama after just two seasons, there were more than a couple of observers who were not surprised the coach made such a decision.

Why? Because Saban just seemed like a coach who could relate better to — some would say control more — college players than those in the NFL. With Verne Lundquist serving as a guest on Saban’s weekly radio show Thursday night, the retiring college football broadcaster asked the Alabama head coach, writes, “when in his Miami Dolphins tenure he realized he missed coaching college football?”

Saban’s answer was illuminating…

“Well, the day I landed in Miami and went to the first press conference,” Saban said. “I started to realize the difference between the NFL then and what the NFL was like before when I was in it with Bill Belichick from 1991-94 in Cleveland, before we had free agency, before the media had infiltrated sorta everything that was happening. I guess right then.”

… but not as illuminating as the coach, once again, addressing his version of the Drew Brees situation as it relates to the level control, or lack thereof, in the NFL compared to what he has in Tuscaloosa.

“When [the Brees situation] happened, I said I can’t control my destiny here,” Saban said. “I can’t control my destiny here. There’s too many things that, no matter how hard I work or no matter what I do, I can control my destiny better in college by working hard and making good choices and decisions and creating a good program for players. I think that happening made me lean back to coming back to college.”

Yes, Saban may have, in the eyes of some, unfinished business in the NFL. At 64 years old — he’ll be 65 Oct. 31 — don’t expect him, though, to at any point in the near or distant future to rectify that “hole” in his coaching résumé.

Long-time starting guard ruled out by Tar Heels for rest of season

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 17:  Quinshad Davis #14 and Caleb Peterson #70 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after a touchdown against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game at Kenan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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As it turns out, the short-term hit North Carolina took to its offensive line last weekend will turn into a long-turn one.

Caleb Peterson (pictured, being uplifted) suffered a back injury earlier this month that kept him out of both the Virginia Tech (Oct. 8) and Miami (Oct. 15) games. Thursday night, the school announced that the offensive lineman will undergo surgery Friday at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas.

As a result, the senior guard will miss the remainder of the 2016 season. Peterson used his redshirt in 2012 and isn’t eligible for any type of waiver, meaning the 6-5, 300-pound lineman has likely seen his collegiate playing career come to an end.

In his Tar Heel career, Peterson had started a total of 42 games. He had a streak of 30 straight starts snapped when he missed the Tech game.

Following the 2015 season, Peterson was named second-team All-ACC by the league’s coaches.

In addition to Peterson, the football program also announced that Jonathan Smith underwent season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a fracture in his right foot. The freshman linebacker initially suffered the injury during practice in the week leading up to the game against the Hokies.

A three-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Smith was rated as the No. 21 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 25 player at any position in the state of North Carolina. He had appeared in six games as a true freshman this season, and was credited with one tackle.

Beavers dealing with injury issues in their backfield

Oregon State running back Ryan Nall, right, looks back at California cornerback Darius Allensworth, left, during an 80-yard touchdown run in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
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It’s looking more and more likely that Oregon State will be at less than full strength in their backfield when they line up against No. 5 Washington Saturday evening.

Leading rusher Ryan Nall aggravated a foot injury in last Saturday’s loss after just one carry and is officially listed as doubtful for the game against the Huskies. Nall did not practice Thursday and was still wearing a boot to protect the injured foot.

Additionally, Nall’s backup, Artavis Pierce, is dealing with a stinger and did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media, The Oregonian reported.

Nall currently leads the Beavers with 464 yards and six rushing touchdowns. He’s also third on the team with 13 receptions.

Pierce is second behind Nall with 262 yards.

If neither Nall nor Pierce are available, the bulk of the running game load would be shouldered by Tim Cook. The senior has carried the ball nine times this season for 22 yards.

TE Trey Dunkelberger set to transfer from Syracuse

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 08: The Syracuse Orange mascot with the cheerleaders during a game against the USC Trojans at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Trey Dunkelberger changed positions earlier this year during spring practice. Seven months or so later, he’s changing programs.

The website JUCO Football Frenzy reported Wednesday that Dunkelberger had decided to transfer from Syracuse. The tight end “confirmed” the move in the form of retweeting the site’s original tweet.

The Syracuse Post-Standard subsequently confirmed the initial report via a text from the player himself, although the football program has yet to address the player’s status with the team moving forward.

Dunkelberger will be leaving the Orange as a graduate transfer, meaning he could move on to another FBS program and be eligible to play immediately in 2017. Next season will be his final year of eligibility.

After playing in one game last season, Dunkelberger has not seen the field yet on 2016. He moved from tight end to defensive end during spring practice, then back to tight end in summer camp.