Evidence continues to gather indicating Sandusky cover-up

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Late last month, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts related to child-sex abuse following the scandal that broke last November. While the decision marked the beginning of the healing process for Sandusky’s victims and all those involved, suffice to say Penn State is nowhere close to being out of the woods yet.

Friday night, a CNN report detailed new emails exchanged among PSU administrators in 2001 suggesting there was a planned cover-up for Sandusky beginning 16 days after former Nittany Lions assistant coach Mike McQueary allegedly saw Sandusky in the showers of an on-campus facility with a young boy.

Though former PSU coach Joe Paterno did not send/receive any emails in the thread, athletic director Tim Curley allegedly wrote: “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” Although never mentioned by name, it’s believed Curley was talking about Sandusky.

There were other similar emails, but the bottom line is it appears that Paterno, Curley, former VP Gary Schultz and president Graham Spanier all knew more about the Sandusky allegations than they initially led on.

But that’s been suspected for some time. On the day leading up to the start of Sandusky trial, NBC News reported school admins exchanged emails in 2001 claiming it would be “humane” for Sandusky not to involve authorities. A day later, a Pittsburgh-based news outlet reported Schultz had a “secret file” of allegations against Sandusky. In mid-June, a PSU trustee told the Associated Press that he suspected a cover-up by PSU officials.

Now, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports “Top Pennsylvania State University officials held a three-hour meeting to discuss Jerry Sandusky in 2001 over concerns about the former coach’s behavior with a boy in the football showers.

“A law-firm billing record from that conversation describes a ‘report of suspected child abuse,’ according to a person with knowledge of an independent investigation into the matter,” the report says.

Given the amount of information that continues to surface, it’s becoming clearer that PSU admins knew something, yet failed to report anything to child-welfare services. That’s a violation of Pennsylvania state law. Curley and Schultz are already facing perjury charges.

However, the CNN report from Friday claims Schultz initially had a plan to notify the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare about concerns over the Sandusky situation. Obviously, though, those plans were never executed as PSU admins instead reportedly planned to ask Sandusky to seek counseling — something they knew was the wrong approach.

“The only downside for us is if the message [to Sandusky] isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier reportedly said in an email.

In response to the emails, the Paterno family released a statement saying “From the beginning, Joe Paterno warned against a rush to judgment in this case. Coach Paterno testified truthfully, to the best of his recollection, in the one brief appearance he made before the grand jury.”

The CNN emails suggest otherwise, but we’ll never know what was going through Paterno’s mind, just as the thought process for Curley, Schultz and Spanier remains a mystery today.

Still, there’s one way and one way only to correctly handle an accusation of sexual abuse — this isn’t an open-ended question — and no one at Penn State handled it the right way.

In fact, you could make a strong case they blatantly handled it the wrong way. There should be no sympathy or forgiveness for that.

Division II, Division III and NAIA title games set while FCS heads into semifinals

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Outside of a thrilling Army-Navy game and the Heisman ceremony, it was an empty Saturday at the highest level of college football.

But no so at the lower levels.

The divisional playoffs are cranked into high gear. Let’s take a brief look at where everything stands in each division.

FCS

Top-seeded and defending champion James Madison needed a last-second field goal to survive visiting Weber State, 31-28, on Friday night, while No. 5 seed South Dakota State routed New Hampshire, 55-14.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed and winner of five of the last six national titles North Dakota State walloped Wofford, 42-10 in Fargo. No. 6 seed Sam Houston State outlasted upstart Kennesaw State, 34-27, to send the Bearkats into their fifth semifinal game in the last seven years.

Semifinals: No. 5 South Dakota State at No. 1 James Madison — 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU; No. 6 Sam Houston State at No. 2 North Dakota State — 8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2.

Division II

No. 4 seed West Florida traveled north and upset top-seeded Indiana (Pa.), 27-17 on Saturday, to send the Argonauts into their first championship game. No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Commerce fended off the option attack of No. 3 Harding (Ark.), 31-17, putting the Lions in their first title game as well.

National championship: No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce vs. No. 4 West Florida — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Division III

In a similar dynamic to FCS, the defending champion is on a collision course with the traditional champion. In the first semifinal, defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) blanked Brockport (N.Y.), 24-0. The Crusaders will make their third trip to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, looking to win their second title.

In the other semifinal, Mount Union (Ohio) overcame a 21-10 deficit to beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 43-40. The Purple Raiders will play in their 20th Stagg Bowl — all of them coming since 1993, and 19 of them since ’96 — with a shot at their 13th national championship. However, Mount Union has won just — “just” — two national championships since 2009.

National championship: Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) vs. Mount Union (Ohio) — 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN at Salem Stadium in Salem Va.

NAIA

The NAIA was off this weekend, taking a break in between last week’s semifinals and Saturday’s national championship. Defending champion Saint Francis (Ind.) out-gunned previously-undefeated Morningside (Iowa) 43-36 in the first semifinal, while Reinhardt (Ga.) held off undefeated Southern Oregon, 37-34 in double overtime.

National championship: Saint Francis (Ind.) vs. Reinhardt (Ga.) — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN3 at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Minnesota lands commitment from 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle

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P.J. Fleck is going to need a bigger boat.

Minnesota has landed a commitment from the largest recruit on record, as 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle Daniel Faalele has committed to the Gophers. Faalele made the announcement on his Twitter page on Saturday night.

A 3-star recruit, Faalele is rated as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the country, according to 247Sports. He listed 20 offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU.

As the story goes, Faalele did not find football; football found him. He was discovered by a recruiter from Hawaii working out at a gym in his native Melbourne, Australia. He attended a Michigan satellite camp in Australia and played this season — his first season in pads — at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In making the trip from the Land Down Under to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Faalele will be joined by a pair of IMG Academy teammates in offensive lineman Curtis Dunlap, Jr., and quarterback Zack Annexstad, who also committed to Minnesota on Saturday.

Those pledges now give Minnesota the 26th best recruiting class in the country and the sixth best in the Big Ten — but the No. 1 class in the Big Ten West — in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Minnesota’s class may not be the best in the country, but it’s among the biggest — both in size (the Gophers have 25 pledges thus far) and stature.

Texas A&M suspends DT Zaycoven Henderson amid felony gun charges

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Texas A&M defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson was suspended amid multiple felony charges on Saturday.

As detailed by Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News, witnesses say Henderson pointed a rifle at one person outside College Station’s Campus Village Apartments and threatened to kill two others and allegedly threw the gun out of a fleeing car as police arrived on the scene. The car was later tracked down by College Station officers, who discovered marijuana in the car.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and marijuana possession. The first charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in a prison. The second is a third-degree felony and the third is a misdemeanor.

He was booked into the Brazos County (Texas) jail at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Texas A&M has suspended Henderson indefinitely, which really only lasts one game as the senior from Longview, Texas, was set to close his Aggies career in the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest on Dec. 29 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Henderson made 35 tackles with five TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 12 starts this season. He was honored as a member of Texas A&M’s senior class at the annual team banquet earlier this weekend.

UCLA reportedly hires Paul Rhoads as defensive backs coach

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Chip Kelly has reportedly hired one of the most respected men in the business to his staff. According to a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman, Paul Rhoads is on his way to Westwood to coach UCLA’s defensive backs.

Rhoads spent the past two seasons at Arkansas, the first as defensive backs coach and the second as defensive coordinator in addition to his duties with the secondary. He’s best known, of course, for his 7-year run as the head coach at Iowa State, where he took the Cyclones to three bowl games and created this viral moment before any of us knew what “going viral” went.

In addition to Arkansas, Rhoads also owns defensive experience at Auburn, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Pacific, Ohio State and Utah State.

UCLA finished last season ranked 74th in pass efficiency defense, yielding a 57.1 percent completion rate for 7.3 yards per attempt with seven interceptions against 18 touchdowns.