Joe Paterno, Thomas Derrick

Paterno family: Joe ‘did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky’

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Anticipating regarding the Freeh report on Penn State’s “actions” related to child sexual abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky hit a new level yesterday when it was announced that the investigation would be released in its entirety on Thursday.

The report, according to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, will put all PSU admins involved under a more direct and blinding light, not just former coach Joe Paterno.

No one and nothing escapes responsibility” a source told Wetzel.

Just as the investigation, led by former FBI chief Louis Freeh, is set to be released, the Paterno family has once again issued a statement — and a rather lengthy one at that — regarding the report. Here is that statement in its entirety below:

”Over the last nine months Joe Paterno has been praised by some in near saintly terms and criticized by others as a villain. He was neither.

“As the people who worked closely with Joe know, he was tough, aggressive, opinionated and demanding. He was also highly principled, uncompromisingly ethical, dedicated to his job at Penn State and committed to excellence.

“When the Sandusky case exploded last fall, Joe’s first instincts were to tell everything he knew. He assumed the University would want to hear from him, but he was never given the chance to present his case.

“He planned to hold a press conference, but University officials ordered him to cancel it. And then the various investigations started and the legal process took over. On top of everything else, Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Two months later he was gone. The end result is his story has never fully been told.

“As this situation unfolded, Joe cautioned everyone not to jump to conclusions. He believed that a rush to judgment and a disregard for due process would ultimately result in conclusions that would not stand the test of time. To be clear, he did not fear the truth, he sought it. As much as anyone he wanted to know exactly what Jerry Sandusky had done and he wanted to understand how it happened.

“The hiring of the Freeh Group is the single most important action the Board of Trustees has taken. Joe supported this decision with the hope that it would result in a thorough, balanced and thoughtful assessment of the Sandusky tragedy. Unfortunately, recent events have raised questions about the fairness and confidentiality of the investigative process.

“Over the last several weeks there has been a virtual torrent of leaks about the Freeh Group’s work. To be clear, we do not know the source, or sources, of the leaks. What cannot be disputed, however, is that select emails intended to smear Joe Paterno and other former Penn State officials have been released. Testimony from witnesses highly critical of Joe has been revealed. And purported conclusions condemning the culture of the football program have been widely disseminated. The Board promised a fair, transparent and impartial process. These developments are a threat to their stated objectives.

“When these leaks first started we appealed to the Freeh Group, the Board and the Attorney General to condemn the leaks and caution the public that it would be wrong to reach any conclusions from selectively released materials. We then asked that all emails and other documents be released so a full picture of their research could be understood.

“As purported conclusions started leaking out, we followed up with the Freeh Group to ask for the right to respond. Since Joe Paterno never had an opportunity to present his case, we believe we should have a reasonable time to review their findings and offer information that could help complete the picture. We were told we could offer responses to the publicly reported allegations, but the Freeh Group declined to confirm that these allegations are in the final report. It is our firm belief that the report would be stronger and more credible if we were simply given a chance to review the findings concerning Joe Paterno in order to present the case he was never allowed to make.

“Since the outcome of this process appears set in stone, we have no choice but to wait for the report and respond as best we can. Given that the report is estimated to be between 100-150 pages it will understandably take us some time to study it and prepare a comprehensive response.

In advance of the release of the report, there are a few facts we want on the record:

We would still welcome a chance to meet with the Freeh Group to review the findings and offer a response. We do not seek or expect the right to edit the report; but we believe our voice should be reflected in its conclusions.

To this point, Joe Paterno is the only person who publicly acknowledged that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. This was an honest and courageous admission that a true leader must assume a measure of responsibility when something goes wrong on his watch.

The sad and frightening fact is Jerry Sandusky was a master deceiver. He fooled players, coaches, law enforcement officials, child service professionals, Penn State Board members, University leaders, neighbors, donors, staff and supporters of Second Mile and his family.

With respect to the email from Tim Curley which stated, “After giving it more thought, and talking it over with Joe yesterday – I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps,” the media spin that this is proof of some sort of cover up is completely false. When the facts come out, it will be clear that Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions.

Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth.

“If he were with us today, we are certain Joe Paterno would say that he wished he had done any number of things differently. We also believe he would make it clear that he was not an investigator, law enforcement officer, child services professional or a member of the Board of Trustees. Joe would accept his responsibility, but he would expect others to step forward as well.”

Oregon St. assistant Brent Brennan hired as head coach at San Jose St.

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San Jose State athletics
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After a few years away, Brent Brennan is coming back to one of his college coaching homes.

San Jose State announced Wednesday afternoon that the 43-year-old Brennan has been hired as the program’s new head football coach.  Brennan will replace Ron Caragher, who was dismissed late last month after four seasons with the Spartans.

From 2005-2010, Brennan was an assistant at SJSU under both Dick Tomey and Mike MacIntyre.

“We want to recruit high-character young men that are tough and love to play football and also take their academics seriously,” Brennan said. “We’re going to help them grow from young men into men and put a product on the field that anybody who has a connection with Spartan football can be proud of.”

In between stints at SJSU, Brennan spent the 2011-16 seasons at Oregon State.  He coached wide receivers in each of his seasons with the Beavers.

This will be Brennan’s first head-coaching job at any level.

“We are thrilled to have Brent back at San José State. He is an exceptional football coach and one of the most respected recruiters in the country. His coaching background and ties to San José State make Brent a perfect fit,’ athletic director Gene Bleymaier said.

The Spartans went 4-8 in Caragher’s last season.

Oregon makes hiring of Willie Taggart official

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Willie Taggart of the South Florida Bulls during a 3rd quarter timeout against the Florida State Seminoles at Raymond James Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
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And now it’s officially official.

Wednesday morning, myriad reports surfaced that Oregon was set to name Willie Taggart as its next head coach.  A few hour later, the Ducks confirmed that they have plucked Taggart from USF to replace the dismissed Mark Helfrich.

Taggart, who will be introduced at a press conference Thursday, will be the first of the 33 head coaches at UO to be African-American.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willie, his wife, Taneshia, their sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson, and their daughter, Morgan,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “Willie places an emphasis on ensuring a positive student-athlete experience and on winning, and his previous stops have proven his success at both. We have a very bright future under his leadership.”

In his fourth season with the Bulls, Taggart has seen his win total increase every year, going from two in his first season in 2013 to four to eight to a 10-win season this year that has another game to go. Taggart won’t this season through, however, as USF announced that co-offensive coordinator T.J. Weist has been named as the Bulls’ interim head coach and will guide the team through their preparation for the Birmingham Bowl matchup with South Carolina.

Taggart has also been the head coach at Western Kentucky. After a 2-10 start, he guided the Hilltoppers to a pair of seven-win seasons before leaving for the Bulls.

The 40-year-old assistant also comes to Eugene with experience in the Pac-12, serving as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh at North rival Stanford from 2007-09.

“I am grateful for the trust that President Schill and Rob Mullens have put in me to be the next head coach of the Oregon football program, and I thank them for the opportunity,” Taggart said. “Oregon has a strong national presence and a proud recent history of playing among the nation’s elite, and I look forward to the challenge of upholding the excellence. I can’t wait to get started.”

Taggart will be taking over a program that went from winning 13 games and appearing in the first-ever College Football Championship game following the 2014 season to nine wins in 2015 before bottoming out out with a 4-9 campaign in Helfrich’s third and final year at the helm.

LSU DC Dave Aranda becomes highest-paid assistant ever

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When it was revealed that Dave Aranda would likely remain at LSU when Ed Orgeron was named the permanent head coach, it was thought the defensive coordinator could become the highest-paid assistant in college football.  Wednesday, that became a reality.

LSU announced earlier today that Aranda has signed a new three-year contract that runs through March of 2020 and includes the additional title of associate head coach.  The deal will also be worth  total of $5.5 million — $1.8 million in 2017, with bumps to $1.85 million and $1.9 million the last two years of the deal.

“My family loves Baton Rouge. We are excited to build on what we’ve started. LSU is a special place,” Aranda said in a statement. “Our outstanding student-athletes, the passion of our fans, the first class facilities and the commitment to excellence from the administration makes LSU one of the premier programs in college football and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”

The deal still needs the approval of LSU’s Board of Supervisors, although that’s expected to be a mere formality.

The $1.8 million will, at least at the moment, make Aranda the highest-paid assistant coach in the history of college football, trumping the $1,6 million Will Muschamp pulled in as the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2015.  The highest-paid assistants in 2016 were Texas A&M DC John Chavis ($1.56 million), Clemson DC and Broyles Award winner Brent Venables ($1.43 million) and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin ($1.4 million).  Aranda was fourth at $1.315 million per the USA Today salary database.

At the end of the regular season, Aranda’s Tiger defense was sixth nationally in scoring (16.4 points per game) and 13th in total defense (323.0 yards per game).  The former was second in the SEC behind Alabama, the latter third behind ‘Bama and Florida in the conference.

The leader of the Tide defense, Jeremy Pruitt, was 12th in the country in pay at $1 million and will likely be in line for a raise at season’s end.

Michigan’s Jake Butt named Mackey Award TE of the Year

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26:   Jake Butt #88 of the Michigan Wolverines is tackled by Marshon Lattimore #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes after catching a pass during the first half of their game at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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For the second time today, a Michigan Wolverine has taken home a major college football award.

This morning, the Paul Hornung Award announced Jabrill Peppers as its 2016 winner.  Not long after, the John Mackey Award named Peppers’ teammate Jake Butt as the 2016 recipient of its award, handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Butt was a semifinalist for the 2015 award won by Arkansas’ Hunter Henry.  He’s the first Michigan player to win the Mackey.

“It’s a great honor first and foremost, especially for this team,” a statement from Butt began. “One thing Coach [Jim] Harbaugh says, ‘A rising tide raises all ships.’ So it’s great to win this award. I want to thank the guys in this group; this is our award, really it’s not a one-man award. I really thank everyone on this team, this coaching staff, my position coach Jay Harbaugh, my family and everyone that’s helped me achieve this great award. I’m really appreciative of that.”

Butt’s 3.6 receptions per game tied for 10th amongst tight ends.  he was one of three finalists for the award, and was joined by Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Clemson’s Jordan Leggett.