Joe Paterno and his wife Sue greet supporters outside their home in State College in still image taken from video

Paterno family releases counter to Freeh report

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Friday afternoon, it was reported that the Paterno family, alongside a legal team, would release a counter to the Freeh report roughly 180 pages long.

Sunday morning, the family did just that.

“We conclude that the observations as to Joe Paterno in the Freeh report are unfounded, and have done a disservice not only to Joe Paterno and to the Penn State University community, but also to the victims of Jerry Sandusky and the critical mission of educating the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization,” the report reads.

You can read the entire report HEREbut here are some highlights of the critique (which are being updated as we go through it):

  • The critique comes right out swinging: “[The]

    Freeh report is deeply flawed in its investigative processes and methodology, in its

    access to information, and in its reasoning based on the record, and that ultimately it draws

    unreliable, unfair and incorrect conclusions as to Joe Paterno.”

  • Specifically, the counter states the Freeh did not properly support its findings concerning Paterno’s knowledge the 1998 and 2001 incidents involving Sandusky. Even more specifically, it attacks the Freeh’s documentation of a 1998 email thread and the ambiguity of the word “coach”, presumably Paterno, as a microcosm for poor fact-finding and confirmation.
  • The report claims that the entire Penn State community, including Joe Paterno, was “fooled” by Jerry Sandusky and his pedophilia. It goes so far as to say that Paterno “fell victim to effective ‘grooming'” from Sandusky.
  • The cirtique brings up a fair criticism: the Freeh group did not interview athletic director Tim Curley or VP Gary Schultz. Only former president Graham Spanier.
  • Regarding the 2001 incident between Sandusky and Victim 2, the money quote has been and continues to be the email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier on Feb. 27, 2001:

    “After giving it some more thought and talking it

    over with Joe yesterday — I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” The critique states that the Freeh report made the assumption that Paterno altered the path of what was to be done about the incident.

  • Regarding the 2000 incident where a janitor saw Sandusky molesting a victim, the critique says there is no link that the witness would have lost his job over reporting what he saw because of Paterno’s power within Penn State.
  • The portion of the review written by Dick Thornburgh actually does a persuasive job of poking holes in the Freeh group’s technique. As our good friend Kevin McGuire of the Examiner pointed out earlier today, if you were to present the Freeh report and the Paterno report in a court of law, where proving something beyond a reasonable doubt is the goal, the Paterno report would probably have an edge.
  • Thorburgh counters that Paterno put football above the safety of others. “The assertion that Mr. Paterno lacked empathy for children and/or victims of child abuse is contradicted by his long history of charitable work and dedication to the development of young men,” Thornburgh states.
  • The report throws the blame of how the 2001 incident was handled on Mike McQueary. “In my opinion, based on investigating, consulting on, and studying thousands of similar cases, it is more reasonable to conclude that these five men did not understand the true nature of Sandusky’s actions because McQueary did not convey what he thought he had conveyed to them.”
  • The critique says the Freeh report “mischaracterized” the 2001 emails sent among Curley, Schultz and Spanier where a more “humane and upfront” approach was discussed in handling the accusations against Sandusky. “Hence, there was no change in plans,” the report states. “[Paterno] was not an intervening cause in any change of plans… with regard to conditionally notifying the DPW. Therefore, there was no conspiracy or any agreement to conceal.”
  • The tone, from start to finish, was that there is no evidence to support claims that Paterno knew of Sandusky’s pedophilia, or that he made a concerted effort to cover it up if he did know. There is also a direct implication in the critique that the Freeh report deliberately chose what to include and what not to include in its report to fit its findings.

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.

Report: Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel undergoes surgery, out as long as a month

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Sojourn Shelton #8 of the Wisconsin Badgers, Vince Biegel #47 of the Wisconsin Badgers, T.J. Edwards #53 of the Wisconsin Badgers react to a interception during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans in the National University Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Just in time for their toughest stretch of the season, No. 8 Wisconsin may be without one of the team’s most important defensive players.

Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is set to miss the next several weeks after undergoing surgery to insert a screw in his cracked foot.

“He’s been playing on it for the last couple weeks, and it was bothering him a little bit,” Biegel’s father Rocky told ESPN. “He had X-rays last night and confirmed it was cracked. He either plays on it, and then if he breaks it, then he’s going to be out for eight weeks. Either way, he’s got to have surgery on it. So he can keep playing until it breaks or try to go through the season with it and try to fix it. At any time, he could break it all the way through. It was just a crack and they’re just putting a screw in it. It’s a very, very minor crack.”

No matter how minor it is, losing Biegel for as long as a month is a huge blow to a defense that has been among the best in the country this season. Wisconsin does have a bye week after traveling to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday but also have to play No. 2 Ohio State and division rivals Iowa and Nebraska to close out October.

Biegel has nine tackles on the year and a sack but is among the most experienced players on the team having played in 46 games at Wisconsin, including 32 starts. Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is expected to take his place.

If there is one bright spot for head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox however, it’s that the Badgers’ linebacking corp is one of the best in the country. Still, as good as Jack Cichy, T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt have been this year, they’ll have to step up their games with an imposing schedule coming up.

Houston missing four starters for AAC matchup against UConn

SAN MARCOS, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Duke Catalon #2 of the Houston Cougars runs against Brandon McDowell #6 of the Texas State Bobcats at Bobcat Stadium on September 24, 2016 in San Marcos, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Houston is looking to avenge their only loss of the 2015 season on Thursday night against Connecticut but the Cougars will have to do so a little short-handed.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the team is down a whopping four starters and a key backup against the Huskies: starting linebackers Tyus Bowser (head injury) and Matthew Adams (coaches’ decision), running back Duke Catalon (head injury), cornerback Brandon Wilson (lower leg) plus backup tight end Alex Leslie (ankle injury).

Catalon has already missed a game this season and is arguably the biggest loss for the team as that will force them to rely on quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who missed last year’s game) even more against UConn. The transfer from Texas is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the year and had a big game against Oklahoma in the opener.

Coach Tom Herman and the sixth-ranked Cougars still should be able handle their business at home against a conference foe but the mounting injuries this early in the season are starting to get a little concerning if you’re a Houston fan.

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett officially withdraws from school

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.

After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.

“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”

Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.

Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.