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.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.

Edgerrin James’ nephew to transfer from Miami

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Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players  suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia.  Nearly four months later, he’s gone.

In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.

“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class.  247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.

The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.

Georgia ‘parts ways’ with four-star 2017 signee accused of assaulting mother of his child

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Not surprisingly, D’Antne Demery‘s time Between the Hedges was a brief one.

Earlier Sunday, reports surfaced that the 2017 Georgia signee had been arrested Saturday night in downtown Athens on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and simple battery.  The alleged victim, the mother of Demery’s one-year-old child, accused the recruit of assaulting her twice, the first time, after a verbal argument, by “grabbing her on the back of her neck… pushing her against the wall, and also grabbing her by the hair” and the second after allegedly throwing her.

Not surprisingly, UGA subsequently announced in a press release that Demery has been released from his signed National Letter of Intent. In other words, he has been summarily dismissed from Kirby Smart‘s football program.

Demery was a four-star 2017 recruit, rated as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the country; the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 204 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Th 6-5, 319-pound lineman was one of 18 four-star players in Smart’s second recruiting class at the school.

After signing in February, Demery had been scheduled to report with the rest of the incoming freshmen in June.

Tom Herman pulls California QB recruit Cameron Rising away from Oklahoma

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Tom Herman has made his share of news since his late November arrival in Austin, but Saturday evening was probably the first time his Big 12 and national rivals perked up and took notice of the new Texas head coach for something that will happen on the field of play.

The Longhorns landed a commitment from Newbury Park, Calif., quarterback Cameron Rising, which would be news in and of itself. The 6-foot-3 signal caller is rated the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 52 player nationally by Rivals for the class of 2018, making him the highest-rated player in Texas’s 4-man class.

But Rising’s pledge is especially notable for where he was already committed: Oklahoma. Rising had been committed to Oklahoma since August and publicly firmed up his pledge as recently as January. “I’m extremely happy (with the decision),” Rising said at the time. “The program is so good, they’re moving in the right direction. They had a slow start but then they picked it up and it was like a warm nice through butter.”

Herman’s tweet brings up an interesting point: the quarterback Oklahoma is most likely to target to replace Rising is the other Texas quarterback pledge.

Casey Thompson, hailing from Moore, Okla., became the first Texas quarterback commitment just nine days before Rising. Beyond just living in the Sooner State, Thompson is also the son of a former Sooner and the brother of another.

In fact, Oklahoma waisted no time in reaching out to Thompson. “OU hit me up already,” Thompson told Burnt Orange Nation, but Thompson indicated Herman and company told him ahead of time Texas would sign two quarterbacks.

And in a note the Texas coaches have likely reminded Thompson of in the past 24 hours, they offered Thompson before Rising. “Me and the [Texas] coaches have a very good relationship. I knew they planned to take 2 from the jump. Their current QB room is thin!”

Oklahoma may very well retaliate to Herman’s plunder with a steal of their own. But the point is Herman has arrived in the Red River Recruiting Wars, and he’s playing to win.