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

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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.”

 

 

Kim Mulkey offers defense of Baylor amid sex assault scandal by encouraging assault

DENVER, CO - APRIL 03:  Head coach Kim Mulkey of the Baylor Bears reacts as she coaches in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the National Final game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Though she isn’t the most visible coach on Baylor’s campus, women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey is certainly the most accomplished. In her 17th season on campus, Mulkey has led the Lady Bears to two national championships, three Final Fours, eight Big 12 championships and a run of six consecutive Sweet 16 visits.

She has mostly remained silent through the school’s ongoing sexual assault scandal, but spoke up Saturday night after an 86-48 thrashing of Texas Tech that saw Baylor clinch its seventh consecutive conference championship and Mulkey secure her 500th win in Waco.

“If somebody’s around you and they ever say, ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you knock them right in the face,” Mulkey said.

As you’ll see in the video below, the green and gold crowd greeted that line with applause.

“Because these kids are on this campus. I work here. My daughter went to school here. And it’s the damn best school in America.”

“I’m tired of hearing it,” Mulkey explained of the comments in the post-game press conference. “I’m tired of people talking on it on a national scale that don’t know what they’re talking about. If they didn’t sit in those meetings and they weren’t a part of the investigation you’re repeating things that you’ve heard. It’s over. It’s done. It’s a great institution, and I would send my daughter here, and I’d pay for anybody else’s daughter to come here. I work here every day. I’m in the know, and I’m tired of hearing it… The problems we have at Baylor are no different as any other school in America. Period. Move on. Find another story to write.”

As a reminder, a lawsuit alleges 52 rapes were committed by Baylor football players under head coach Art Briles.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.