Joe Paterno, Susan Paterno

NYT: Paterno got ‘sweeter deal’ in middle of Sandusky investigation

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As is often the case when scandals of this magnitude are uncovered, the reputation that Penn State and former football coach Joe Paterno spent decades building together continues to be torn to shreds.

Thursday’s Freeh report uncovered that the longtime coach was aware of a 1998 investigation of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky related to “grooming” a victim for sexual abuse, something Paterno lied about as recently as this past January in a Washington Post interview.

Based on the internal investigation initiated by the school’s Board of Trustees last November, Paterno and several high-ranking university officials knew what Sandusky was doing and failed to take proper measures against it for over a decade.

Now, a New York Times story reports that Paterno and PSU officials were working through contract negotiations in 2011 even though the Pennsylvania state attorney general’s office was investigating Sandusky again for child-sex abuse, and that Paterno had already testified in front of the grand jury.

According to the story, Paterno knew in January, 2011, that prosecutors were investigating Sandusky. That same month, Paterno began negotiating his contract, which was not set to expire until the end of 2012, with his bosses. By August, 2011, Paterno and former university president Graham Spanier reportedly reached an agreement.

That agreement was to pay Paterno $3 million to retire at the end of the ’11 season, roughly $2 million more than what he reportedly earned every year in salary before other incentives. Other details said to be included were the use of the university’s private plane and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family for the next 25 years. Additionally, $350,000 in interest-free loans to Paterno would be forgiven as part of the deal.

Impeccable timing.

The Times reports that a majority of the board “was kept in the dark about the arrangement” until November. When the Sandusky scandal broke open that month, Paterno told the trustees he would retire on his own following the end of the season, even though that was already the apparent agreement. He never got that chance, as he and Spanier were fired shortly thereafter.

What reportedly followed was a back and forth both among trustees, as well as the board and the Paterno family, over the details of the contract. “There were some who argued that it was unseemly to pay the remainder of the money and other perks owed to Mr. Paterno,” the Times reports. “They wondered whether, given Mr. Paterno’s failings, it might be possible to nullify the contract, or at least renegotiate it and reduce the payout.

“Others worried about the hostility they would face if they tried to strip Mr. Paterno, still beloved in many quarters of the campus, of money that he was contractually owed — a prospect that grew even more worrisome after he died on Jan. 22 this year.”

Eventually, the Paterno family got almost everything it wanted, except for the aforementioned private plane and luxury box (it was offered the choice of two others), in a package worth reportedly around $5.5 million in April.

“We were providing for payments due under the contract,” said Frank T. Guadagnino, a lawyer hired by the board in November, to the Times. “So we weren’t really negotiating.”

Board chair Karen Peetz said Friday after a meeting that there is no timeline for removing Paterno’s name and likeness from multiple areas around the university’s campus.

ECU transfer QB Kurt Benkert moves on to Virginia

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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On April 25, East Carolina announced that Kurt Benkert had decided to transfer out of the Pirates football program.  Less than a week later, the quarterback has found himself a new football home.

On Twitter Sunday afternoon, Benkert confirmed that he will be enrolling at Virginia and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cavaliers.  Beckert also acknowledged his decision in a text message to 247Sports.com.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Beckert said in a portion of the brief text.

As Beckert is headed to UVa. as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Hoos immediately in 2016.  Not only that, but he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Beckert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Beckert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Mark Richt continues to be the classiest of acts in college football

Mark Richt gestures after being introduced as the new University of Miami NCAA college football head coach, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015,  in Coral Gables, Fla.  (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
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In my seven-plus years at CFT, I’ve never been shy in expressing my absolute and utter respect for Mark Richt, whether it was for an honorable against-the-grain stance on transfers or honoring a high school football player who tragically drowned before he could become a walk-on at Georgia or myriad other things.  Sunday, Richt solidified that respect.

As you may know, Richt and UGA parted ways this offseason, with the head coach ultimately moving on to Miami to take over his alma mater’s football program.  As expected, his departure from Athens was classy.

Just as expected, one of Richt’s returns to his old stomping grounds further showed his class.

Not to be outdone, Richt’s replacement showed his class as well.

Bravo to both head coaches.  Sometimes, most times, being classy is the absolute right move — even as Richt’s successor could take some lessons from his predecessor when it comes to transfers.

Ohio State draftees to sign contracts worth in excess of $110 million

Urban Meyer
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Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.

During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted.  While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.

And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.

According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million.  Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707.  Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.

Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either.  From the Dispatch:

Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.

Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days.  And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.

The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.

Veteran NFL assistant reportedly to fill Alabama’s coaching vacancy

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On the same day some details emerged on an Alabama assistant’s “resignation,” that assistant’s potential replacement has been identified.

Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Karl Dunbar is expected to be hired as the Tide’s new defensive line coach.  Dunbar would replace Bo Davis, who “resigned” Friday amidst allegations of potential NCAA violations.

Dunbar served as Nick Saban‘s strength & conditioning coach at LSU from 2001-02, and then returned to Baton Rouge as Les Miles‘ line coach in 2005 after spending two years (2003-04) in the same position at Oklahoma State.

Most of Dunbar’s coaching career, though, especially recently, has come at the NFL level.

From 2006-11, Dunbar was the line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, and then held the same job with the New York Jets from 2012-2014.  Hired by Rex Ryan to coach the Buffalo Bills’ line in 2015, Dunbar was fired in March of this year.

Dunbar is a former NFL defensive lineman who played for Arizona in 1994-95, when Ryan was one of his Cardinals assistant.