The ‘Penn State Way’ at the core of the Sandusky cover-up

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The Freeh report investigating Penn State’s actions related to former defensive coordinator and child molester Jerry Sandusky is 10 chapters and 162 pages long — not including numerous additional emails, notes, school policy documentation and general appendices. It took eight months to complete, 430 interviews were conducted and 3.5 million documents dating back over a decade were perused.

It took me hours to read through.

And, yes, it’s as damning and heartbreaking as speculated. Most notably, it corroborates that former head coach Joe Paterno, along with key members of Penn State’s athletic and university administration, were aware of a 1998 investigation targeting Sandusky for a shower incident with a young boy he met, like so many other victims, through his charity, the Second Mile. And that no one did anything about it because it was deemed by at least one person as “not criminal.”

“I think the matter has been appropriately investigated and I hope it is now behind us [emphasis added],” former vice president Gary Schultz wrote in a 1998 email to athletic director Tim Curley and former president Graham Spanier.

Paterno had previously denied knowing anything about the 1998 incident to the Washington Post.

But sifting through the pages of horrific accounts of inaction, something less blatant stood out on page 129.

“Certain aspects of the community culture are laudable, such as its collegiality, high standards of educational excellence and research, and respect for the environment. However, there is an over-emphasis on “The Penn State Way” as an approach to decision-making, a resistance to outside perspectives, and an excessive focus on athletics that can, if not recognized, negatively impact the University’s reputation as a progressive institution.” 

There are no exclamation points or large, flashing arrows screaming “Look at me! I’m important!” Yet a single phrase that, by itself rarely raises suspicion, can be associated with being the core reason behind why no one at Penn State said anything when Sandusky came under suspicion in ’98… why a 2001 incident involving Sandusky and Victim 2 was quashed… why the former defensive coordinator was free to use university athletic facilities to abuse even more young boys years later…

It was the Penn State Way.

For the longest time, the Penn State Way was defined as something different to people like you and me. It stood for winning with honor and integrity. It stood for graduating players and keeping your NCAA nose clean. Unfortunately, we now know it also stood for a culture of in-house dealings, exclusivity, and later, lies.

Former PSU vice president of student affairs Vicky Triponey knew about the real Penn State Way, even if it wasn’t in the same light as you and I see it today. Say what you will about Triponey and her hyperbolic “Timeline of Terror“, but she butted heads with Spanier over the culture of Penn State athletics, and now she doesn’t work there anymore.

It was a close fraternity, where things don’t change much. Paterno coached at Penn State for 45 years. Sandusky spent the better part of four decades in Happy Valley as a player and coach. Curley, a 1976 PSU graduate, and Spanier served as athletic director and president, respectively, for over 30 combined years before last November.

And, for that, I understand why there was a cover-up. There is no defense for it in this scandal, but the sentiment is more common than you might want to admit.

Especially when football rules a university and a community.

Consider if this had happened with someone you’d known closely for decades, or perhaps a well-respected boss of yours. The moral high ground in us tells us we would have done the right thing. We would have called authorities and taken the proper measures.

But is that really what each one of us would have done? Or, would you have tried to handle the matter yourself… or perhaps dismissed it altogether out of fear?

Sandusky was a legend at Penn State in his own right. A high-profile, active member of his community who, on the surface, dedicated his life to helping underprivileged young people. A noble cause — why would anyone think twice about his motives?

It was the Penn State Way.

But so was the hush-hush atmosphere within PSU’s athletic department in the late 1990’s. Sandusky wasn’t forced into retirement after the 1999 season because of his first investigation; rather, he was essentially given an ultimatum that resulted in his collaborating with Penn State and the Second Mile because the long-time defensive coordinator knew he would not be the next head coach of the Nittany Lions.

Despite the disturbing accusations against Sandusky, or how concerned university admins and Paterno might have been over the ’98 investigation, they continued to work with and protect the esteemed member of the PSU community.

It was the Penn State way.

The same goes for 2001, when former assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky in the Lasch building showers with Victim 2, and each subsequent year that Sandusky was allowed to prey on young boys while those with direct knowledge put in their earplugs, hoping naively that Sandusky had changed overnight.

Without a doubt, that kind of behavior merits the most severe punishment the law can dictate. If found guilty of criminal acts related to a cover-up, Curley, Schultz and Spanier can rot in isolated jail cells for the rest of their lives, thinking about how they chose the Penn State Way no one knew about rather than the Penn State Way that was preached to others.

Waiting for their day of reckoning will be frustrating and there’s already a desire for immediate retribution. And you know what? That feeling is completely merited. People want someone, anyone, to pay for these heinous crimes.

Tear down the Paterno statue! Burn Penn State to the ground! Shut it down! Administer the Death Penalty, NCAA!

Those are all easy ways to find immediate relief, but they don’t change what happened and have zero consequence on those directly involved in this scandal.

If Curley, Schultz and Spanier are thrown in jail — and I have little doubt they will be — what is there left to accomplish by, say, the NCAA?

The focus should be, and will be, on cleaning house and starting over. Maybe that means tearing down Paterno’s statue and removing him from the history books. Maybe it requires shutting down the football program for an unspecified period of time. That’s Penn State’s prerogative.

Just know that whatever is done now, or in the immediate future, will be overshadowed by the real solution: changing the definition of the Penn State Way. For good.

Ex-Tennessee QB who transferred to Houston now moving to CMU

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Over the weekend, Central Michigan landed a new head football coach.  A couple of days later, they landed a potential starting quarterback as well.

In somewhat of a surprising move, Quinten Dormady announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that he has decided to transfer from Houston.  Not only that, but Dormady confirmed that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career for McElwain at CMU.

The move comes a little over six months after UH confirmed that the quarterback had transferred in from Tennessee.

Because Dormady didn’t play in more than four games this past season for the Cougars, he can take advantage of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule and save a year of eligibility.  He’ll also be eligible to play immediately for the Chips in 2019 as a graduate transfer.

In his one and only season with the Cougars, Dormady completed two of his five passes for eight yards.  With star quarterback D’Eriq King set to return for one more season, there was little chance of Dormady seeing meaningful playing time in what will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

Dormady was the Vols’ starter to open what turned out to be Butch Jones‘ final season in Knoxville.  In starting the first five games of 2017, Dormady had accounted for eight turnovers, six of which were the result of interceptions. Five of those picks came in losses to Florida (three) and Georgia (two).

Coming off a bye, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano started the Week 7 loss to South Carolina after Dormady was benched following the loss to UGA.  Prior to the Week 9 road trip to Kentucky, it was reported that Dormady would be sidelined the remainder of the year because of a shoulder injury.

Dormady, who grew up near San Antonio, completed 76-of-137 passes (55.5%) for 925 yards, six touchdowns and the six interceptions this past season.  The 6-4, 222-pounder finished the Vols portion of his playing career with 1,282 yards, seven touchdown and six picks.  He also ran the ball 22 times for a total of 21 yards.

Report: Nick Saban to stay in-house, promote Dan Enos to OC

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And for his fifth offensive coordinator since the beginning of the 2016 season, it appears Nick Saban will stay in-house.

Exactly one week ago, Maryland announced that Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley had been named as the Terrapins’ next head football coach.  While Locksley will remain with the Crimson Tide through the playoffs, Saban has apparently gone about the business of replacing him as FootballScoop.com is reporting that Dan Enos will be the team’s coordinator moving forward.

Enos spent the 2018 season, his first in Tuscaloosa, as the Tide’s quarterbacks coach.  He also carries the title of associate head coach.

Enos, who was a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles, was the head coach at Central Michigan for five seasons (2010-14).  After posting a 26-36 record with the Chippewas, which included a 7-6 mark in 2015, Enos abruptly left the MAC school to take the offensive coordinator job at Arkansas in January of 2015.  With Bret Bielema fired shortly after the end of the 2017 season, the 50-year-old Enos took a job on Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff in early January of this year… only to leave less than three weeks later for Alabama.

The coordinator job at Arkansas was Enos’ first at the FBS level.  And, as previously noted, Enos would be Saban’s fifth coordinator in less than three full seasons.

One week before the national championship game for the 2016 season, and after he was initially expected to remain in his job through the playoffs, it was announced that Lane Kiffin would be leaving Alabama for the head-coaching job at Florida Atlantic, effective immediately.  Kiffin was replaced by Steve Sarkisian, who called plays in the title game but then left a month later for a job in the NFL.  Brian Daboll replaced Sarkisian and lasted one season coordinating the Tide’s offense before he too left for the NFL.  Daboll remained with the Tide through their playoff run last season.

Tim Brown’s 1987 Heisman fetches record price at auction

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Tim Brown has registered another entry on his record-setting résumé, albeit indirectly.

Last month, it was reported that Brown’s 1987 Heisman Trophy, which he sold to a private collector a year ago, would be going up for auction.  After online bidding began on Nov. 19 and closed Dec. 5, Sports Collectors Daily has reported that the stiff-armed trophy won by the former Notre Dame wide receiver sold for $435,763 over the weekend.

It’s believed it’s the highest amount ever paid for a Heisman.

“We believe this is one of the most significant trophies to ever be offered at auction and collectors agreed as the bidding was fierce,” said Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “It’s rare when a Heisman becomes available and even more unusual for it to be from an NFL Hall of Famer who played at the most storied college football program.”

Earlier this year, the Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam sold for nearly $400,000, a record number for such an award at the time.

The family of Yale running back Clint Frank sold his 1937 trophy in October of this year for $317,000.  O.J. Simpson’s 1968 Trophy sold for $255,000 in 1999, while another former USC running back, Charles White, sold his Heisman for $184,000 in 2000.

Beginning in 1999, winners of the Heisman Trophy have been barred from selling their trophies by the trust that oversees the honor.

Report: Butch Jones leaving Alabama for job at Maryland

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College Park is taking on a decidedly Tuscaloosa feel to it.

Earlier this month, Maryland confirmed that it had hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head football coach.  Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Butch Jones is leaving Nick Saban‘s program for a spot on Locksley’s Terrapins coaching staff.

Jones, who met with Locksley earlier this month before agreeing to take the job, is expected to serve as the Terps’ tight ends coach.  He’ll also carry the title of associate head coach for the Big Ten program.

In March of this year, Saban added Jones to his Alabama football staff as an offensive analyst.  Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year.

Jones last served as a tight ends coach in 1998 at Central Michigan; he was last a position coach at West Virginia (2005-06).

Per the terms of his UT contract, Jones will be paid just north of $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021.  He made $35,000 as an analyst at Alabama this year.