Tag Archives: Joe Paterno

Two Years Later, The Flaws In The Freeh Report Finally Come To Light

joepa youngEven since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke at Penn State three years ago, my position on this story has been both clear and consistent. You can research the Dubsism archives to see it for yourself, but for purposes of this discussion, it can be summed up in a single compound sentence. From Day One, people lost sight of what should have been the focus of this story should have been how we as a society need to protect our children.

All you had to do was to read the Freeh Report to know that was not going to be the case. Honestly, you had to be living on the dark side of the moon to not know it before then; the Freeh Report just became the perfect example of how even a tale this tragic can become just another vehicle for the advancement of a political agenda.

In particular, I was especially critical of the Freeh Report for several reasons, but most notably that it attempted to place Joe Paterno in a similar position of guilt as the three university officials who are facing federal charges. The reason why that was done was simply to put the face of Penn State football closer to the actual crime in order to make Penn State a more politically-acceptable whipping boy for the NCAA.

And now CBS Sports is reporting that fact is now beginning to come to light.

Continue reading →

Penn State Football 2012: The Rebuilding Begins

This will be the first Penn State post I’ve written in months which is solely about football.  I’ve got plenty of other posts in which I discuss the obvious problem we’ve just dealt with.  There are a bunch of kids who showed the one thing Paterno always preached: loyalty.  Now its time to talk about them and the game they play; there’ s plenty of other places to discuss the ugliness of the past nine months.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel a bit strange to be writing about a Nittany Lion football team which now finds itself without the man who built the program.  Not only is this team entering the post-Paterno era, but its also one that has some immediate needs on the field.

The dawn of the Bill O’Brien era in State College is going to face some immediate challenges. Contrary to what people may think, this isn’t the year Penn State football is going over the cliff due to the sanctions NCAA imposed. With the exception of the bowl ban, those penalties won’t start to show their effects until 2013.

So, let’s talk about the upcoming season.  Don’t let PSU’s nine-win season in 2011 get in the way of the truth.  The Nittany Lions have many personnel issues to address, and even without the obvious distractions, they were at best a fringe Top-25 team going into 2012.  They can forget about that now.  A breakdown of the 2011 season illustrates why.

Penn State’s 2011 wins over Temple, Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, and Ohio State (by a combined total of 33 points) kept the Big Blue’s faithful hopes alive that the Nittany Lions were a team of destiny in the Big Ten; they had the inside rail to the inaugural Big Ten championship game.  But those dreams ended on the turf in Camp Randall Stadium in Madison when Wisconsin used 22 starting Big Blue Nittany Lions jerseys as floor mops.  Wisconsin provided a physical mismatch along the lines of what Alabama did to Penn State at Beaver Stadium in early September.

Both were telling losses.

In both the cases of Alabama and Wisconsin, Penn State’s offense went nowhere against a competent defense.

In both cases, the hallmark blue bulldozer offensive line of a Paterno team proved to be only adequate at best.

In both cases, the Nittany Lions proved they lacked a difference-maker at quarterback.  Penn State’s sole touchdown against Alabama came in garbage time; it was clear the Big Blue offense had no shot at finding the end zone against the Crimson Tide when it mattered. The drubbing at Wisconsin was even worse.  If there was a silver lining in the last few dreadful months, it was that Penn State is finally rid of alleged quarterback Rob Bolden with his transfer to LSU.  Now, the team is all Matt McGloin’s; which should be an improvement simply because there will be no more of this two-quarterback nonsense.

Any honest Penn State fan has no choice but to admit the issues along the offensive front and at quarterback.  McGloin helps to solve the problem under center, but the front five doesn’t look to be getting better anytime soon.  But there’s another big problem nobody is really discussing.  A Paterno team with a bad offensive line is shocking enough, but Penn State has a HUGE weakness on defense: they can’t stop the passing game.

Even with All-American Devon Still on the defensive line, Penn State throughout 2011 lacked the ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.  It didn’t get any better going further back; the defensive secondary was the Nittany Lions’ hidden weakness.  Paterno’s trademark defensive style depended on a brutal defensive line and linebackers who treated opposing offenses like the Vikings treated the villages they invaded. Without that sort of pillaging power, Penn State’s 2011 defense relied far too much on a second-rate secondary in an era when the Big Tweleveten is no longer a conference based on “three yards and a cloud of dust.”  Today, as we speak, you can beat the shit out of Penn State all day long throwing the football because their soft zone defense just doesn’t cut it in a league that transformed with the Joe Tiller/Drew Brees approach.

It didn’t get any better in the low-rent bowl game where Penn State’s defense got humiliated by Case Keenum of Houston and the offense couldn’t muster more than two touchdowns against a glorified FCS team.

Having said all that, Bill O’Brien has three major on-field challenges.  By the way, don’t be that guy who is going to comment with the obvious when it comes to sanctions, recruiting issues, and the like.  We all already know that…save your breath and try thinking outside of the box.  Now, back to the on-field challenges facing Bill O’Brien.

The Silver Lining: getting rid of Rob Bolden means the quarterback job is all Matt McGloin’s.

1) The Offensive Line:

Ironically, it will be how O’Brien tackles the blocking issue which will determine how deep the recesses of NCAA sanction-land are going to be. It’s a football fundamental.  If you can’t block, you can’t win.  If Penn State can’t at least get guys off the line of scrimmage, the ghost of Joe Paterno will go to the undisclosed location where they are hiding his dismounted statue and chop it up himself.

2) The Defensive Line:

As he has said throughout his time at Penn State, O’Brien said on Thursday that the defensive front seven would the strength of the 2012 Nittany Lions.  This may very well be an improved unit as Jordan Hill, Da’Quan Jones, Pete Massaro, and Sean Stanley are on track to start up front, but this unit will be deep. The same is true for the linebacker corps with Gerald Hodges, Michael Mauti,  and Glenn Carson in starting spots, but there are several players capable of providing significant playing time.

3) The Secondary:

The secondary has a number of good returning players like Stephon Morris, Malcolm Willis, Adrian Amos, and Stephen Obeng; but there are also some youngsters who have a chance to help improve this unit, such as Da’Quan Davis and Jordan Lucas.

The Bottom Line:

There were three times last year when the Nittany Lions were clearly over-matched. They couldn’t handle the speed of Alabama, Wisconsin’ s dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson gave them fits, and Houston’s pure-passer in Case Keenum did little more than expose the Penn State secondary. Even though this marks the beginning of a new era in Penn State football, the solutions to these problems have roots in the past. For Penn State to have a winning season, they must control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  They also must improve on pass defense; the Big Twelevten is now full of offenses which love to throw the ball.

The Schedule:

September 1st – Ohio

Ohio is a good MAC team, but they are still a MAC team traveling to Happy Valley. Three years from now, Penn State may be Purdue’s homecoming bitch, but even Purdue can beat MAC teams.

September 8th – at Virginia

Here’s the first road test, and the first chance to see how brutal road fans are going to be.  Both Virginia and Penn State figure to be middle-of-the-pack team in their respective conferences.

September 15th – Navy 

See the synopsis of the Ohio game and replace the term “MAC” with “Service Academy.”

September 22nd – Temple

Temple never once beat a Joe Paterno team. This is isn’t a Joe Paterno team anymore, but this also isn’t the year this streak ends.

September  29th – at Illinois

Penn State opens conference play on the road, and Big Blue doesn’t have a very good record in conference openers away from Happy Valley.  Both these teams had disastrous ends to their seasons last year, and this will be a question of who made the right moves to right their respective ships.

October 6th – Northwestern 

The last time these two teams met in Pennsylvania, Northwestern rocketed out to a three-touchdown lead before Matt  McGloin led the Nittany Lions on a 2nd half comeback.  Neither team will be as good as they were two years ago.

October 20th – at Iowa 

Even good Penn State teams have been snake-bit against the Hawkeyes in the last decade, and that streak doesn’t look likely to end this season, especially not in Kinnick Stadium.

October 27 th  – Ohio St. 

I really hope this is the beginning of a great rivalry between Bill O’Brien and Pope Urban I.  Since both teams are bowl-ineligible, this could prove to be a slug-fest for bragging rights in one of the hotbeds of football in America.

November 3rd – at Purdue

Here’s the bitter rivalry game, not for what happens on the field, but because this represents a division in the Dubsism house.  As previously mentioned, J-Dub is a Penn State alum and Mr.s Dubsism graduated from Purdue.  Either way, the local police will surely be at the Dubsism house; it’s just a question of who is leaving in handcuffs.

November 10th – at Nebraska

Once again, Penn State has some of its toughest games late in the season. This likely will be a long day for the Nittany Lions.

November  17th –  Indiana

Indiana never once beat a Joe Paterno team in conference play. This is isn’t a Joe Paterno team anymore, but this also isn’t the year this streak ends.

November 24th –  Wisconsin

I’m not going to be a fan of this game at the end of the schedule, considering for at least the next four years this will mean my last view of Nittany Lion football will be a 30-point drubbing at the hands of the Badgers.

Wins: 

Ohio, at Virginia, Navy, Temple, Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana

Losses:

at Illinois, at Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin.

The Results:

If it weren’t for the ineligibility, Penn State would likely find itself in another low-rent bowl for the second-division Big Tweleveten. But, since that won’t be the case, the Nittany Lions will have to settle for a seven-win season and continue to focus on the future.

The Dubsism Report on the Freeh Report and The Post-Mortem on the Penn State Scandal

Preface:

With the release of the report concerning The Pennsylvania State University’s (Penn State) handling of the Jerry Sandusky case written by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and commissioned by the Penn State Board of Trustees, an emotional firestorm has erupted over it’s  contents.  If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve addressed this situation, but barring the discovery of new and relevant material germaine to the story, this is going to be the last time.  With Joe Paterno in his grave, Sandusky in his cell, and far too many lives and careers destroyed, the first and foremost of those being Sandusky’s victims, it is now time to look back, learn some hard lessons, then move forward while ensuring those lessons learned get applied.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again…in fact I will keep saying it because at the outset of this situation, I said there were only two points which mattered, and nothing contained in the Freeh Report changes those:

  • We as a nation must do whatever we can to protect our children, and we must be sure to do whatever we can to help and support the victims.
  • We as a nation must do whatever we can to ensure this does not happen again.

For that matter, the opening paragraphs of my original piece on this matter still hold true:

The whole point of this blog from its inception has been to provide a unique view of the world of sports. More often than not, this has been done with a sense of humor, sometimes a thick sense of satire, and sometimes by being completely absurd. However, there are times where I abandon all pretense and speak in a very blunt and direct manner because of the seriousness of the subject matter.

Obviously, my discussion of what happened at Penn State will be one of those times.  Frankly, this has been a time of great personal angst for me; it doesn’t take long reading through the archives of this blog to discover that I have a connection to the university and that Coach Paterno has been a revered figure in my life.  Most obviously, this will be one of those times because there is nothing funny about the sexual abuse of children…

…Stopping this from happening again is the only facet of this discussion in which I’m interested, and it renders all the other aspects of the discussion utterly pointless, with the sole exception of examining them in order to understand the pathology of such horrible events…

…That’s really why I didn’t write this piece on Monday as the real ugliness of this story was breaking. But today, I feel compelled.  Once I saw the grand jury report come out, I knew my personal feelings about Coach Paterno no longer mattered in this affair. I knew nobody’s personal feelings mattered anymore, but I also knew those feelings were going to drive the debate. This was going to cause a massive outpouring of those emotions, which I knew would need to be avoided because to get to the bottom of why things like this happen, we as a nation have to take a hard look at our methods of organizational management…

Like I said, those points all still hold true.  The Freeh Report has in many ways managed to rip those aforementioned wounds open again, but this time it took the arguments whose facts were previously unknown and gave them a framework for which the time is right for the retrospection and soul-searching need to ensure…this does not happen again.

To that end, I gave the Freeh Report – all 267 stomach-churning pages of it – an exhaustive and detailed read, and for purposes of furthering the learning exercise I firmly believe this whole tragedy needs to be, I’ve broken it down to several points which need to be considered fully in order to further the previously-cited and exclusively important matters.

That leads us to the purpose of the Dubsism Report. This is not intended to be a rehash of the Freeh Report, although it will be heavily quoted.  This is in no way a defense of Paterno, Penn State, or anybody else related to this situation. Instead, the Dubsism Report is going to amplify some findings in the Freeh Report, clarify some others, disagree with some, and offer material not contained in the Freeh Report to support the assertions of the Dubsism Report.

The over-arching goal of this report is to take an exhaustive investigation like the Freeh Report and allow it to become a learning tool. To accomplish that, the Dubsism Reeport will explore three main questions.

  • How this really happened?  Lots of material in the Freeh Report is being ignored by the media, and some people who have huge culpability in this matter are are “getting off easy.”
  • Who is ultimately responsible?  It’s easy to see how this traveled in the Penn State community, but does some blame travel beyond State College?
  • What has to happen to ensure this never happens again? Ultimately, nothing else matters beyond this.  There are some hard lessons in this situation which need to be learned by every single one of us.  If we do not learn from this so we can better protect our children, we become meaningless as a society.

Outline:

Section I: The Major Findings of the Dubsism Report

1) The Freeh Report Did Not Spare Those Who Commissioned It

2) Penn State Had Organizational Knowledge of the Sandusky Situation As Far Back As 1998

3) No One Person Was Dirtier in the Handling of the Sandusky Situation than Graham Spanier

4) The Citing Of The Clery Act Contained a Misguided Attempt To Blame This All On Joe Paterno

5) The “Moral Compass” of Penn State’s Leadership Was Seriously Mis-Calibrated – That Includes Paterno, But Not to the Degree of Spanier, Schultz, and Curley

6) The “Retirement Deal” Was a Death Warrant for Sandusky and Penn State

Section II: Matters Not Fully Detailed By The Freeh Report

1) The University’s Exposure to Civil Liability via the Actions of Sandusky and Spanier

2) The Misperceptions of Joe Paterno, Both in the Arena of Public Relations and Contained in the Freeh Report

  • That For Which Joe Paterno Was Not Guilty
  1. Paterno’s Failure to Act Pales In Comparison to the Actions of Spanier, Curley, and Schultz
  2. Paterno Did Not Fail To Show Contrition
  • That For Which Joe Paterno Was Guilty
  1. Paterno Knew More Than He Told The Grand Jury
  2. Paterno’s  Biggest Mistake: Was It A Result of Misplaced Loyalty,  Horrible Judgement, Missing His One Real Opportunity To Do The Right Thing,  Or All Of The Above?

3) Guilty Parties Not Assigned Their Fair Share of Blame By The Freeh Report

  • Dottie Sandusky
  • The Second Mile Foundation
  • University Police Chief Thomas Harmon
  • Current Penn State President Rodney Erickson

4) How Paterno’s Death Changed How This Matter Was Handled

5) The Hypocrisy of the NCAA

6) The Diseased Culture of Penn State Was Mirrored In The Statue Debate

Section III: The Factual Legacy of Joe Paterno

1) Joe Paterno: The Man

2) Football

3) Philanthropy

4) The Ironic Fall From Grace

Section IV:  Conclusions and Summary

1) How This Really Happened?

2) Who Is Ultimately Responsible?

3) What Has To Happen To Ensure This Never Happens Again?

Continue reading →

Four Final Thoughts on the Jerry Sandusky Situation

A few minutes ago, the child molestation trial of former Penn State Jerry Sandusky went to the jury.  Now that we are on the verge of the end of this chapter of this terrible saga, it is time to look at four things that will be a part of the Penn State future no matter what the jury finds.

1) Jerry Sandusky was convicted in the court of public opinion months ago.

That means there will be big negatives regardless of what the jury does.  Since there are only three possible outcomes here, there are also a limited set of responses.

  • The jury finds him guilty.

This will result in a never-ending self-congratulatory parade of the self appointed moralists I called out at the beginning of this mess.  Don’t get me wrong, I got kicked off the Penn State island for saying Sandusky deserved to go to prison and that Joe Paterno needed to no longer be the head football coach. The problem is as I explained in the linked article that even if Sandusky rots in prison, we still haven’t solved the situation that allows the creation of the next child-raping monster. All the “Sandusky getting raped in the prison shower” jokes you are going to hear won’t change that.

  • The jury finds him not guilty.

Get ready for a damning of the jury system as a whole much like we saw after the O.J. Simpson murder trial. You saw this after Barry bonds essentially got off after being flayed in the court of public opinion, and there’s even similar grumblings about Roger Clemens. Imagine what will happen after all the media folks who swore Sandusky was headed to the slammer get a face full of judicial egg.

  • The jury doesn’t return a verdict.

A ‘hung jury” is the worst case scenario. Not only would it result in a spate of media debate over guilt or innocence, but I’m fairly certain we will be treated to a never-ending series of civil suits, not the least of which may very well be the Paterno family suing the university for wrongful termination.

2) It’s a blessing Joe Paterno didn’t live to see this.

The bottom line to all of this: The sole reason Paterno had to lose his job was because he was the “face” of a diseased culture; a diseased culture which meant EVERYBODY had to go, form the university president to the lowliest graduate assistant. Everybody needed to go, which is why the “who knew what when” argument was so utterly pointless when it came to Paterno. Again, I covered this argument in the linked article: I won’t rehahs it here.

3) An entire university will suffer due the acts of one person. 

Never, ever forget this is all about Jerry Sandusky. The actions of everybody involved in this, with the sole exception of his victims, were reactions based on the actions of Sandusky.  But it is hard to not notice that Penn State as an institution has suffered because of Sandusky.

For example, peruse the listings of the Big Ten Network when it comes to the ever-present classic football games they are always showing. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a Penn State game.  The fact Penn State has suddenly dissappeared from the Big Ten network is odd considering that PSU has figured prominently in the conference since joining it nearly two decades ago.  I’ve seen more games with perennial B1G bottom-feeder Purdue than the Nittany Lions.  Is this a quiet shunning? Nobody knows but I would love to ask that question to somebody at the Big Ten Network.

4) There’s only two things that really matter in all of this:

Making sure the victims get all the help and support they need, and ensuring this never happens again.

The Dubsism Top Fifteen Sports Stories of 2011

Being that we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…

15) The Establishment of Two All-Time Winningest College Coaches: Paterno and Krzyzewski

Will there again ever be a year in which we see the crowning of two all-time winningest coaches? We may not see either of those records (Paterno, 409 wins; Krzyzewski, 903 and counting) fall in the next half-century, let alone having them both occur in the same year.

14) Kevin Love’s Double-Double Streak

For nearly 30 years, Moses Malone’s record stood at 51 consecutive games, until Kevin Love scored 16 points and grabbed 21 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers for his 52nd straight double-double. Love’s streak ended at 53 three days later at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

13) Two More Yankees Make The Record Books

Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter…Get ready for two more monuments behind the center field fence in Yankee Stadium.  Rivera notched his  record-setting 602nd career save, eclipsing Trevor Hoffman’s previous mark. And in the same season,  Yank captain Derek Jeter smoked a long ball to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, becoming only the the 28th member of the exclusive club and the first 3K Yankee.

12) The End of The Peyton Manning Era

The Colts spent two decades as an NFL afterthought before the arrival of the wunderkind Manning in 1998, and now neck surgery may spell the end of the Manning era in Indianapolis. Manning’s surgically rebuilt neck, his back-loaded contract, and the Colts prime real-estate in the upcoming NFL Draft form a perfect storm scenario in which if Manning does ever take an NFL snap again, it may be in a uniform not of Colt blue.

11) The Improbable Run to the Championship

When is the next time you will see such a harmonic convergence of “underdog” champions?

  • NFL: The Green Bay Packers make the playoffs as the bottom 6th Seed.
  • MLB: The St. Louis Cardinals literally make the playoffs as a wild-card on the last night of the season, then they win what may be the greatest baseball game in a generation, Game 6 of the World Series.
  • NHL: Granted, The Boston Bruins were a #3 seed in the East, which isn’t a prohibitive underdog, but nobody gave them a chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks
  • NBA: Like the Bruins, the Dallas Mavericks entered the playoff tournament as #3 seed, but it was their complete domination of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers which set the tone for the next two series, both of which saw Dallas facing teams which seemingly should easily over-match them in terms of talent on the floor. That was until Dirk Nowitzki decided to become unstoppable.
  • NCAA Men’s Basketball: Again, the #3 seed proved magical, as the Connecticut Huskies rode that to the top of the field of 64. The fact they played their way to that seed was only slightly short of a miracle, considering they entered their conference tournament as a #9 and had to play AND win four games in four days to ensure getting into the NCAA tournament. Honestly, the ten-game streak in the Big East and NCAA tournaments pulled off by the Huskies may be one of the great playoff runs of all time.
  • NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey: Another #3 seed…are you sensing a theme here? The University of Minnesota-Duluth (which is really the UCLA of hockey) had an improbable run to the championship of the Frozen Four.
  • NCAA Women’s Basketball: I know that it is hard to call a #2 seed an underdog, but let’s not forget the womens’ basketball world was dominated by a single goliath at Baylor which Texas A&M  had to slay, but there was the ever-present team dragons in Tennessee, Stanford, and Connecticut.

10) The NBA Lockout

In what may prove to be a Quixotic exercise in abject futility, the NBA owners locked out the  players on July 1st  for reasons I still really can’t understand given what has happened since the lockout ended.  Star players getting big money has been the rule in professional sports for decades; Babe Ruth was the first jock to pocket more than the President of the United States. But when the Samuel Dalemberts of the world world are getting $13 million a year in a league that can’t pull in big-time national TV money, the problem is much larger than a simple collective bargaining agreement.

9) The Death of the Man Who Made the NFL What It Is Today

There’s a certain amount of irony in the fact the world lost Al Davis and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in the same year.  Much like the regime of Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il, the end of the Al Davis Era marks both the end of an era that once made the Raiders a serious factor in the world of the NFL, but now leaves them as an isolated dictatorship viewed as a pariah in contemporary circles.

Kim Il-Sung shaped at least a half-century of world history when he ordered the North Korean army into South Korea in 1950, starting a war that is still technically unresolved to this day. Al Davis forever changed the face of the NFL when he sued the league for the right to move his franchise as he pleased.

Much like Kim Il-Sung left his eternal mark on North Korea beyond the war, the legendary Raiders owner had six decades’ worth of unique impact on pro football. I would be lying if I said that I never criticized Davis.  Just a few months ago, I included him on my list of the 15 Worst Owners in Sports.  However, as I said in that piece, that criticism was reserved for the Al Davis of the past 20 years or so.

For those of you under 30, you may not believe there was a time when Al Davis wasn’t a batshit crazy Cryptkeeper look-alike and the Raiders were not the laughing stock of the NFL. In an 18-year span during the 70′s and 80′s, the Raiders won 13 division championships, made 15 playoff appearances, and took home three Lombardi trophies. This is the era when the Raiders were the winningest team in all of professional sports, and love him or hate him, Davis was a respected and visionary leader who helped build the AFL into a league so successful the NFL couldn’t beat it so they joined with it.

That paragraph only scratches the surface as to what Al Davis meant to the world of professional football.  Davis literally climbed the football ladder, going from college assistant coach to an NFL assistant coach, to head coach,  to owner to AFL commissioner, to Super Bowl champion,  and ultimately to the Hall of Fame.

Perhaps his single greatest honor is having made a record nine presentations of inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Al Davis made presentation speeches for  Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, and John Madden. Davis himself was enshrined in Canton in 1992.

Davis changed the game of football through sheer personality; a personality which was a collection of contradictions. At once, he was was loyal and rebellious;  cantankerous and vindictive,  yet sentimental.  Yet through all that, Davis’ name must be included amongst the founding fathers of the NFL; a name that must be mentioned with same reverence in NFL circles as that of George Halas.

His contributions to the league as a whole notwithstanding, there the matter of his success with the Raiders. His trademark slogans weren’t just some words on a banner, it was a philosophy that propelled the three-time World Champion Raiders to the very top of the professional sports world. In the 48 year marriage between Davis and the Raiders, they had 28 winning seasons, including 16 in a row from 1965 through the 1980 World Championship season.

Davis died earlier this year died at age 82 and it’s hard to dispute the Hall of Famer’s place among the most influential of the sport’s history-makers. Davis was controversial. He was a contrarian. But he was also a gift to the game.

8 ) The Ever-Deepening Cesspool That Is The NCAA

This is only layer one of what is wrong with the NCAA. The truly disgusting stuff comes later down this list. This entry is all about the corruption and the hypocrisy of the organization which is supposed to keep these factors out of college sports.

It all starts back in January when the NCAA first found violations at Ohio State, but let the players who committed the violations play in their bowl game.  The theme here is the NCAA clearly values money over integrity. Keep this in mind as you read.

In August, the Miami situation broke,  when it was reported that Nevin Shapiro was pumping thousands of dollars in illegal benefits to past and present Hurricanes players over the past decade.  The tale told by Shapiro from his prison cell (he’s currently parking his ass in a federal cell for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme) includes prostitutes, cars, cash,  and paid vacations, much of which he alleges were known of by Miami staff and coaches.  Shaprio dimed out the names of  73 current and former players.

University of Miami president Donna Shalala being presented a check by Nevin Shapiro.

Go back to the Ohio State situation. At first, this was just about tattoos. Then it mushroomed into costing head football coach Jim Tressel and starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor their jobs. In this case, it wasn’t so much the crime, but it was the cover-up which killed everybody. But the fact the NCAA dicked around for months only underscores the fact they are not really than interested in enforcement.

Then there’s the completely laughable finding that Auburn “committed no infractions” in the Cam Newton affair when there were admissions about cash payments totaling $180,000.

The best part is this isn’t just teams who are mired in unethical activity. The Fiesta Bowl committee was exposed in a 276-page report which detailed allegations of Fiesta Bowl employees being reimbursed for donations to state and local politicians (which happens to be a felony), $1,241 spent at a Phoenix strip club was illegally charged to an expense account, and the misappropriation of $33,188 bill for Fiesta Bowl’s president and CEO Junker’s 50th birthday party.  Junker has since been fired, but more stories like this will emerge until the swamp that is the NCAA is drained.

7) The Conviction of Barry Bonds

Another story indicative of what a depressing year in sports this really has been. Again, instead of talking about accomplishments on the field, we are dealing with matters decided in a courtroom.

In April, Bonds became the first player from a “major” sport to be convicted for an issue stemming from the latest round of scandal about performance-enhancing drugs. While he was acquitted of the more serious charges, just this past Friday U.S. District Judge Susan Illston issued a 20-page order refusing to overturn the obstruction of justice conviction handed down by the the jury in her courtroom  nearly eight months ago.

6) The Continuing Tectonic Shift in College football

Texas A&M is headed to the SEC. So is Missouri.  Syracuse and Pittsburgh are bolting from the Big East to join the ACC. West Virginia is trying to ditch the Big East for the supposedly greener pastures of the Big 12; the same greener pastures TCU left the Big East at the altar for.  In return, the Big East extended invitations to at least six teams, and the madness isn’t over yet.

5) The Phenomenon Known as Tim Tebow

I’ve been watching football for nearly 40 years, and I’ve never…repeat NEVER…seen anything like the Tim Tebow story. He’s either loved or hated; he’s either the future of the Denver Broncos or an impostor. Everybody has a strong opinion, and everybody is convinced they are right.

Frankly, I have no idea what to make of the guy, so I’m going to stick with the facts.

  • Whether or not the Broncos complete this miraculous run to the playoffs, there is no denying this team was on life-support when they handed Tebow the keys, and that team responded to him.
  • The Tebow story is one of the few uplifting stories in a year in sports filled with so many negatives.
  • Like it or not, Tebow is the biggest star in the NFL right now. Doubt that? Tell me another NFL player that had an hour-long special dedicated to him exclusively.

4) The Night of the Dueling Collapses

In the last story, I said I have been watching football for nearly 40 years. I can say the same for baseball, and again, I can say I never saw anything like the last night of the regular season.  In what was inarguably the wildest night in baseball I’ve ever seen, the Red Sox and the Rays,  and the Braves and the Cardinals entered the last game competing for the American League and National League wild-card berths respectively.

This set the stage for six hours of baseball that will be talked about for at least as many decades.

In the National League, the Braves blew a ninth inning lead, eventually losing in the 13th inning 4-3 to the Phillies.  This loss opened the door for the Cardinals to capture the wild card by cruising past the Astros 8-0 to complete their amazing late season run; one that found them trailing Atlanta by 10.5 games on August 25th but prevaiiling in the end by winning 23 of their final 31 games.

Believe it or not, the collapse in the American League was even more epic.  The Boston Red Sox  led Tampa Bay Rays by nine games on September 4th, which seemed to be an insurmountable lead. It wasn’t, as the Sox found themselves in need of a win on the last night of the season to keep their playoff hopes alive. The stars seems to be aligning Boston’s way; they seemed on the verge of staving off a historic choke-job, taking an early 3-2 lead over the Orioles while the Rays fell behind the Yankees 7-0.  But then somebody messed with the lenses of the Sox telescope; Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon surrendered consecutive hits to Chris Davis, Nolan Reimold, and Robert Andino to earn a season-ending 4-3 loss.  Meanwhile, the Rays regrouped and mounted a comeback on the shoulders of a pair of dramatic homers from Evan Longoria, including a 12th-inning walkoff game winner.

3) The Fiasco of the Los Angeles Dodgers

We may never know how sordid the details of Frank McCourt’s mismanagement of the Los Angeles Dodgers really are; what we do know is that after the Dodgers began showing signs of financial trouble in 2010, Commissioner Bud Selig made the decision to give the league control over the club’s day-to-day operations starting in April 2011.

Since then, we’ve been treated to McCourt attempting to overturn Selig’s take-over via the courts, then threatening to engage in more legal maneuvering over a proposed television deal with Fox Sports was rejected by Selig. Then since the Dodgers struggled to meet payroll deadlines, the club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, all during which McCourt was embroiled in what may have been the nastiest divorce in the history of the state of California.

Thankfully, Major League Baseball and McCourt reached an agreement in October under which he will sell the team and the media rights by April 30, 2012.

2) The NFL Lockout

Really, all this lockout proved is that the NFL owners and players really don’t understand the problems they have. They think this new collective bargaining agreement solves all the acrimony we all lived through, but that’s an illusion made of money. Realistically, the NFL and the NBA share some common problems, namely that they have franchises in places they shouldn’t, and those franchises are draining the league’s resources. The difference is the NFL is the country’s most popular sports league, it is literally floating on money, so it can pave over it’s issues with revenue-sharing. When the NFL finally hits the point where it has priced itself out of the market (wait until you see what the new TV deal is going to do to your cable bill), all of a sudden the illusion made of money will disappear. Mark my words, the next NFL lockout (and there will be one) will look and sound just like the NBA lockout we just lived through.

1) The Penn State and Syracuse Sex Abuse Scandals

This is the one story here that transcends sports. We have all heard the allegations, we have all read ad nauseum about all the sickening details; there’s really no need to rehash them here. What matters most is that these stories should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We all must take a stand in stopping this sort of abuse of our children, and we must do it now. There is no excuse for any other course of action.

To that end, this should serve as the moment of truth for the NCAA. It’s time to find out how many more Jerry Sanduskys and Bernie Fines there are out there, and it’s time to ensure they are stopped. If the NCAA can’t do that, then the NCAA needs to be dismantled.

What We Learned From This Weekend in Football 11/26/2011 – The Up-To-The-Minute Coaches’ Death Watch Edition

Lots of stuff has happened since we originally started this Coaches’ Death Watch a month ago. Some of it we saw coming, some of it we didn’t, and some of it is simply inexplicable.

There’s the guys who bought it before we ever published the inaugural death watch issue. Granted, we messed up when we listed New Mexico”s Mike Locksley as a certainty to be fired when in fact he had already been fired two weeks before hand.  But what difference does it really make? New Mexico is firmly rooted in the “Who Cares? conference.

Firings We Didn’t See Coming:

1) Joe Paterno, Penn State

Let’s be honest…nobody saw this coming a month ago. We need not get into the details here, we all know them.

2) Ron Zook, Illinois

Captain Coke-Machine Head Butt was 6-0 to start this season, and the Illini are going to a bowl game. Zook was the first coach to take the University of Chief Illiniwek to the Rose Bowl in about a bazillion years.

Trouble is they finished 0-6, going 2-6 in B1G conference play and that’s includes a season-ending 27-7 debacle at Minnesota.

3) Bob Toledo, Tulane

We’ll be honest…we really weren’t paying attention to Tulane football. They are in the same conference as New Mexico.

Firings We Totally Saw Coming (with Breaking News):

1) Houston Nutt, Mississippi

Houston, you have a problem. The million-dollar question: Is their really a difference between getting fired and being asked to resign? Not really, because for a coach, there’s still a contract buy-out involved.

2) BREAKING NEWS #1 – Rick Neuheisel, UCLA

As of right now, CBSSports.com is reporting Slick Rick is as gone as a cool breeze after the Pac-12 Championship.

UCLA was blown out 50-0 by USC on Saturday night to finish the season at 6-6 and 5-4 in the Pac-12, but thanks to some NCAA sanctions currently in place at USC, the Bruins will be playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship against Oregon on Friday. Which means that there’s a chance the 6-6 Bruins could end up playing in the Rose Bowl.

Though it doesn’t seem that is going to be enough to save Rick Neuheisel’s job at the school. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Neuheisel will meet with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero after the game to discuss his future at the school, and the report says the chances Neuheisel will retain his job are “bleak.”

Neuheisel is a dead man.

2) BREAKING NEWS #2 – Paul Wulff, Washington State

Again, it’s CBSSports.com as the bearer of bad news for at least one guy on the Pelouse…

Washington State head coach Paul Wulff is expected to be dismissed according to a local report, possibly as early Sunday or Monday.

The Seattle Times, citing sources close to the situation, report Wulff will be dismissed in a meeting with athletic director Bill Moos “barring a last-minute change of direction.” The Cougars finished their season with a 38-21 loss to Washington in the Apple Cup on Saturday.

If the reports are true, Wulff will finish with a 9-40 record in four years as the head coach in Pullman. His .184 winning percentage is the worst in college football, and the worst in Washington State school history. Moos has been WSU’s athletic director for 18 months, and reportedly has big plans to refresh and revive the football program. With an $80 million stadium remodeling project and new football offices in the plans, it’s not surprising they want to make a change to help encourage donations.

Wulff is a dead man. That end-of-season meeting with the AD is never a good deal.

2) BREAKING NEWS #3 – Dennis Erickson, Arizona State

Dennis Erickson reported to be fired. Not exactly a "Shocker."

CBSSports.com hits the Pac-12 trifecta, this time in Tempe.

Black Sunday in the college coaching ranks continues, with the latest coach on the verge of losing his job reportedly being Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. Multiple sources have confirmed to CBSSports.com Arizona State Rapid Reporter Craig Morgan that Erickson will be fired this week with a news conference coming as soon as Monday.

Erickson still has one more year left on his contract, and if he’s fired he’ll receiver half of the $1.5 million he was due in his contract. Though it’s also possible that both sides will work out another agreement.

Arizona State had a disappointing end to its season in 2011, as the Sun Devils began the season with a 5-1 record but limped to the finish line losing 5 of their last 6 games. Losing out on a golden opportunity to play for a Rose Bowl berth in a very winnable Pac-12 South Division.

While we don’t see a meeting with the AD yet, this can’t be a good development.

Guys Who Saved Their Asses

1) Mark Richt, Georgia

Richt’s survival in Athens is a combination of getting the Bulldogs into the SEC Championship combined with having a $7 million buy out. It will be forgiven if when Georgia gets crushed by LSU, but the Bulldogs really could stand to make a good showing in their bowl game.

2) Jeff Tedford, California (probably)

Like I said before, Tedford is like a Bay-Area version of Mark Richt. He’s a nice, well-tanned guy who started out strong, but has a bit of a “what have you done for me lately?” problem.  Since 2006 when Tedford led the Golden Bears to 10 wins and a share of a Pac-10 title, Cal hasn’t repeated that success, even in the light of USC’s troubles. Tedford was the most 50/50 guy on this list, and I think going 4-2 in his last six in Strawberry Canyon gets him off the hook, at least for one more year.

Guys Who Are Still Under The Sword of Damocles

  • Turner Gill, Kansas
  • Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
  • Neil Callaway, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Mike Riley, Oregon State
  • Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
  • Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
  • Frank Spaziani, Boston College
  • Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
  • Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Luke Fickell, Ohio State (those Urban Meyer rumors just won’t go away)
  • Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Lezlie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
  • Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers

The Unkindest Cut of All

A tweet from Pete Thamel of the New York Times sums it up.

Man, there are some stone cold mofos in this world.

Despite Mike Krzyzewski’s Accomplishment, I Still Don’t Have Any Respect For Him

Last night, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, notching his 903rd career victory. This is a accomplishment worthy of note, and Coach K deserves the accolades being heaped upon him today.

But before you think I am one of those willing to put him on a pedestal, you might want to consider that my view of what Krzyzewski has created at Duke has changed immeasurably five years ago.  For all his success on the court, Krzyzewski has been guilty of a major failure; one that has many similarities with scandal currently embroiling Penn State.

The scandal that enveloped the Duke lacrosse team a few years back served as a very nice “preview of coming attractions” for what’s happeing at Penn State today.

Walk through the following steps if you don’t belieive that.

Mike Krzyzewski himself. I get that he is a disciple of Bobby Knight, but there is a major difference. It is one thing to be an asshole; it is an entirely other thing to spend thirty years hiding you are an asshole.  Naturally, resident ESPN analyst and personal Krzyzewski fellatrix Dick Vitale just can’t understand why there is all this Duke hatred out there.  Let’s see if I can clear this up for Dicky V.

Raise your hand if you are tired of watching Coach K scream unrepentantly at officials until every call goes Duke’s way. Raise your hand if you wonder why the media has never exposed Krzyzewski for being every bit the abusive tyrant his mentor Bobby Knight was. Raise your hand if you don’t get why nobody has ever noticed the Paterno-like ring of sycophants willing to lay down their lives for Coach K. Raise your hand if you wonder when Coach K and Dick Vitale are going to pick out a china pattern together?

Crushing Hypocrisy.  How easy is it to dislike someone who exemplifies the most human characteristics of a rat all while being a two-faced elitist scumbag? This is Krzyzewski’s major contribution to Duke; he is the titular head of the Hypocritical Douchebag Committee. At once, the Duke athletic culture (led by Krzyzewski) has developed a drum-beat, party-line rhetoric about creating scholar-athletes at a private university, which Krzyzewski seems to believe is the sacred ground for all that is holy in college athletics. This becomes more important later.

Complete Elitism. Duke pretends it is a great place to send your sheltered, privileged kids all while it is located in an exceptionally dangerous neighborhood. The aforementioned hypocrisy not only feeds this faux elitism, but allows it to grow into the worst possible kind of elitism, the kind that has no ability for introspection and no proclivity for perspective.

What Duke and Krzyzewski simply don’t get is that they have created a culture which mirrors all of the false idolatry which has gotten so many other people into trouble, yet stick their collective heads in the sand clinging to the “can’t happen here” mentality with the false belief that Duke’s ivory towers have some sort of shielding capability.

Krzyzewski created a culture of false idolatry and denies he did it. Duke and Krzyzewski in many respects have built each other. The Duke campus is rife with things named for Krzyzewski, there’s a tightly knit culture in the program funded by wealthy donors and protected by an unwritten code about “keeping family business in the family.”

Now for the punch in the gut for you Dukies…re-read the previous paragraph and replace the word “Krzyzewski” with “Paterno,” and replace the word “Duke” with “Penn State.”

Now before you take pen to paper and write some sort of bile-spewing invective to which you Dukies are prone telling me how the Penn State and Duke athletic departments have nothing in common, consider the following points:

Krzyzewski said it himself.  In his 2007 book To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever, Will Blythe quotes Coach K  as saying “Let’s say at Ohio State that we did what we have done at Duke. There would be statues. There would never be anybody looking for anything wrong with what you did.”

In retrospect, that’s a chilling statement. While he uses Ohio State as his example of a large, public university with a brobdingnagian athletic department where a “Penn State” style problem can exist, there’s no denying that Penn State completely fits the description he offers. Even worse are the suppositions hidden in that statement. Krzyzewski believes himself, and wants you to believe that such idolatry can only happen in a big, public-school setting, and that it is only because of private-school envy that people begrudge him in his success.

It gets even worse when you stop to consider the timing of these comments. These comments were made in the wake of Duke’s own scandal surrounding the men’s LaCrosse team. Granted, those allegations turned out to be false, but nobody knew that at the time these comments were made, and regardless of the veracity of the allegations, all kinds of Duke dirty laundry got publicly aired, and lots of people’s lives were ruined.

In other words, Dukies and Krzyzewski got lucky their accuser was lying. Despite that, nobody at Duke took this for the warning sign that it was. Nobody in Durham seems to want to remember the first few weeks of the lacrosse scandal played out pretty much like the current situation at Penn State.  For months, you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing a new sordid detail in Durham, and State College will be no different.

Duke ignored it’s warning sign, and Penn State ignored its warning sign as well. This isn’t Penn State’s first go-round with a sexually charged scandal. Back in 2005, the Nittany Lions athletic department fell under scrutiny  when a women’s basketball player accused longtime Lady Lions coach Rene Portland of sexual discrimination by running the player off the team for being perceived as a lesbian.

Naturally, an internal investigation followed, and in 2006 the university found against against Portland. The university issued a written reprimand, a $10,000 fine and a warning to cease a pattern of sexual discriminatory behavior or risk being fired. But on the same day the university announced its actions, Portland responded to the results of the investigation at her own press conference, calling the university findings “flawed,” and that she would return the next season.

Incredulously, the university let her get away with that, and she held on to her job before resigning following the next season.  It shouldn’t really surprise anybody that despite the announced resignation in 2007,  rumors abounded that Athletic Director Tim Curley and President Graham Spanier had actually forced Portland out.  So, not only did Penn State bungle the handling of that situation, they replicated it again a few years later, the irony being the same people willing to throw an anti-lesbian under the bus had no problem protecting a pedophile.

To see the similarities with Duke, all you have to do is look at the culture. University presidents, athletic directors, and players come and go, but when you get facilites and statues named after you, there’s no denying that you control the culture of the athletic department. Paterno built a culture that allowed the protection of a child-raping monster, and Krzyzewski built one that closed ranks in a similar fashion given a similar scandal.

Denying the vibe that allowed the Penn State situation to happen is present in the Duke athletic department is pure denial. Not only have we already seen it in action with the lacrosse situation, its just plain to see if you are looking for it. Check out the irony in this comment I made about Krzyzewski in an article I wrote a year ago about programs I suspected of being dirty.

“I don’t care how much hate mail I get for this, but I’m convinced Mike Krzyzewski is like the church minister who secretly likes little boys. He’s got all the respect of the people who could out him, but none of them do because, after all, he is the minister. Besides, he’s also that hypocritical asshole who preaches about character and discipline, then stomps around on the sideline like the biggest petulant shithead out there.”

In all honesty, this is the part that tipped me off to the whole connection. I can’t deny I’m a Penn Stater, but in light of recent events I refuse to be one of those who is a blind apologist for Joe Paterno. I see in retrospect the warning signs I glossed over, and there’s no way I’m not going to point out these things when I see them.

Paterno used to stomp around on the sidelines in the same way Coach K does, and he never once got called out for it because he had been elevated to an immune status. That immunity allowed him to create and control a culture which eventually digested itself, and the same culture exists in Durham.

Krzyzewski and the “Cameron Crazies” enable each other, just like Paterno and the Penn State fan base did.  On the surface, this may be the most obvious reason America hates Duke. Frankly, it always seemed so self-evident.  It doesn’t require Jim Rockford or NASA supercomputer to figure out why. All you have to do is watch Duke play, watch Coach Krzyzewski on the sidelines, and watch their fans. They are all obnoxious in their own way.

This leaves us with the upscale rabble known as the ”Cameron Crazies.” Somehow, they’ve become the gold standard in fandom over the years, and it’s the most annoying Duke myth of them all. Duke fans are the worst kind; they are impossibly loud, they disappear if the team isn’t winning, and most importantly, what they actually know about basketball you could squeeze into their ass and have plenty of room left for their brains. You know the type; the people who love sports just because it’s an excuse to get dressed up and yell, but don’t actually understand the game (think Minnesota Viking fans and you get the picture).

Rather than being basketball fans, Duke supporters tend to be pompous elitists who love to roll in the delight of their own feces and are hopelessly ultimate superiority. All one has to do is quote the following Duke fan confronting Elton Brand about his decision to leave Duke after his sophomore year, the first underclassmen to leave early during Krzyzewski’s tenure at Duke.

From: Taylor, Jennifer
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 2:55 PM
To: Brand, Elton
Subject: Leaving Duke

I graduated from Duke last May and just wanted to express my disgust for your decision to leave the Duke program after only two years. As an alum, not only do I hold the school in high regard, but the basketball program as well, especially since both have deservedly garnered such a great deal of respect for their accomplishments.

As part of our basketball program, you represent Duke as a whole. We are first and foremost an academic school, you clearly did not belong at Duke in the first place if this was the extent of your commitment to Duke and a college education in general. You have not only insulted the current students who are putting in four years at a school they love, but also the thousands of alumni who have realized the value of a Duke education and what an honor and privilege it was to be there for four years.

If you do not realize the opportunity you have in front of you to play for Coach K and at the same time attain a Duke diploma, then that is certainly your loss. I just wish that you has spared us the notion that you were continuing in the tradition of being a Duke student-athlete, in emphasizing excellence in both academics and athletics. You will not be considered part of the Duke family, in my mind as well as many others. You have by no means proved yourself worthy of that title.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Taylor

Now, never mind that Elton Brand was the best player to come through Duke University since Grant Hill. Forget that he was selected first overall in that year’s NBA Draft. It isn’t even important that it took a lifetime of dedication and hard work for Brand to get to that point. What matters is the attitude of this snotty little bitch who is all pissed off because he left her school. To Duke fans, it’s never about great players like Brand; it’s the system that made them successful.

Now compare that to this quote from an anonymous letter I received from a Penn State fan who doesn’t believe I should be criticizing his beloved Coach Paterno.

“You are probably to stupid to realize this, but you are the reason a great university lost a great football coach. You call yourself a Penn Stater, yet you are amongst the ones who forgot about loyalty to the Penn State family. It is at a time like this that families stand together and protect each other. Instead, you chose to take the coward’s route and point fingers at your own kind.”

The rest of that letter becomes both profane and deranged, and ultimately ends with a death threat.  But that quote speaks volumes to the mindset of the respective fan bases.  Everything is about protecting what is “mine” and how the situation in question affects “me.” Both have such a complete inability to see a larger picture that both need to be summarily dismissed. In other words, the people who are willing to remain blind always add to the damage caused strictly to protect the idolatry in which they feel personally invested.

Two weeks ago, I was one of those people. I thought Paterno was above reproach, and I was wrong. But there is no amount of loyalty to a sport that will make me obviate right and wrong. Paterno was an unquestioned ruler, and when the court became corrupt, it was incumbent on him to do something about it, and he did not.

Krzyzewski is also an unquestioned ruler, and we’ve already seen that Duke is not immune to scandal. While it is too soon to see what Penn State will learn from this, it is clear that Duke did not heed the wake up call they recieved five years ago. As the lord of the athletic department manor, it was up to Krzyzewski to show the leadership needed to change the culture he created, and he did not. Much like Paterno, no amount of wins can change that.

The Lesson We Desperately Need To Learn From the Penn State Situation

“If we as a society cannot protect our children, then we are pathetic.” – Matt Millen, Penn State DT 1976-1979

So…this is how it ends. As I wake up today; the first day in my 43 years in which Joe Paterno is not the head coach at Penn State, I can’t help but ask myself how the hell did this happen?

The whole point of this blog from its inception has been to provide a unique view of the world of sports. More often than not, this has been done with a sense of humor, sometimes a thick sense of satire, and sometimes by being completely absurd. However, there are times where I abandon all pretense and speak in a very blunt and direct manner because of the seriousness of the subject matter.

Obviously, my discussion of what happened at Penn State will be one of those times.  Frankly, this has been a time of great personal angst for me; it doesn’t take long reading through the archives of this blog to discover that I have a connection to the university and that Coach Paterno has been a revered figure in my life.  Most obviously, this will be one of those times because there is nothing funny about the sexual abuse of children.

In much of the conversation throughout the media I have seen, there has been much debate over Paterno’s role in this matter. There’s one school of thought that wants to hold Paterno accountable for the entire situation, while another feels he did what he was supposed to do and therefore still deserves the adoration of the fans who have appreciated the two national championships he won in 46 years at the helm in State College.

Both sides have passion for their position, both sides have argued vehemently for their position, yet both sides are missing a terribly important point.  In other words, if you are bent on arguing one side or the other of this discussion, feel free to take that discussion elsewhere. I’m not interested in your soapbox rantings, your righteous indignation, or whatever else you may have to offer that is off the real point of this blog: How do we stop this from happening again?

Stopping this from happening again is the only facet of this discussion in which I’m interested, and it renders all the other aspects of the discussion utterly pointless, with the sole exception of examining them in order to understand the pathology of such horrible events.

That’s really why I didn’t write this piece on Monday as the real ugliness of this story was breaking. But today, I feel compelled.  Once I saw the grand jury report come out, I knew my personal feelings about Coach Paterno no longer mattered in this affair. I knew nobody’s personal feelings mattered anymore, but I also knew those feelings were going to drive the debate. This was going to cause a massive outpouring of those emotions, which I knew would need to be avoided because to get to the bottom of why things like this happen, we as a nation have to take a hard look at our methods of organizational management.

Collectively, we are looking for one figure at which to point a finger so that we can all roll over and go back to sleep.  It is so much easier to point at one factor and say “if for that one thing, event x wouldn’t have happened” than it is to say “perhaps we need to take a hard look at how we handle these situations.”

That is exactly why I don’t want to hear anymore of this pointless argument “who should have done what when” argument. Besides the fact that it doesn’t solve anything, it frames the entire discussion in terms of blaming somebody who wasn’t the one abusing the children.

Not to mention those fingers might end up pointing back at you. I’ll come back to that later…

Until we re-focus our collective anger over such issues back to the appropriate targets, this problem will continue to exist. Penn State is not the first organization to have a problem like this, and it won’t be the last. Paterno isn’t the first middle-manager to have something off-putting reported to him, and he won’t be the last. Penn State senior management isn’t the first such group to bury the report, and they won’t be the last.  All because Jerry Sandusky isn’t the first child-raping monster we’ve had to deal with, but he should be the last.

The trouble is he won’t be.

No matter how you want to frame the discussion, today finds Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier cleaning out their offices. The two former PSU officials currently under indictment (Curley and Schultz) will be facing their own legal consequences, and Jerry Sandusky will soon enough be in prison getting a daily diet of what he was handing out.

Not a single one of those facts – not a single goddamn one – will prevent another child from being abused due to an organizational cover-up.

In other words, this whole incident should be about Sandusky being a degenerate pederast. If you can’t bring yourself to blame the obvious, if you feel the need to widen the debate, then at least have the balls to do it in a productive manner. The damage in this case has already been done, so as I’ve said, there’s no point to the “Who knew what and when did they know it?”  debate.

Instead, we as a society need to address the following:

First of all, we need to at least get a grasp as to why human nature draws us to the cover-up. There is almost no better subject than the abuse of children to draw the prototypical “tough-guy” talk; you know, the kind that starts with “if I were the one who saw that” or “if that were my kid.” That sort of talk belongs in the same sort rubbish bin as the Joe Six-Pack in a bar who has a few too many beers and thinks he could take on an MMA fighter.

You don’t want to believe that. In fact, you are reading this and thinking that I’m not talking about you. Right now, you are constructing an argument that will let you believe I’m wrong, that somehow you are different; that somehow the laws of human nature which have remained unchanged since the days of wooly mammoths and cave drawings do not apply to you.

While you are constructing that argument, consider this: blowing the whistle is the decided exception to the rule. If you are taking the grand jury testimony to heart, then you know the Penn State employee (Mike McQueary)  who witnessed an act of abuse in 2002 was an assistant football coach.  Without knowing anything about the man’s personality, I think we could all agree that any coach at the big-time college level is no shrinking violet. He’s a tougher guy than you are, but he didn’t spring into the “tough guy” reaction.

Then there’s Paterno. It’s obvious Paterno is a tougher guy than you. He was running out on the field with his team into his late 70’s; it took a hit from a Wisconsin tight end that would have crippled you to stop him. The fact that he can deal with the rigors of being a big-time head coach at an age when most men his age are in a box speaks to “Chuck Norris level” tough.

Paterno is a guy who has been the gold standard for football coaches for close to 50 years, and the fact that he blanched upon getting the news of what Sandusky was doing speaks volumes to the fact that the reaction to this sort of news is not predictable.

If you don’t want to believe that, ask yourself this: Even if you want to hold Paterno’s feet to the fire, do you really think Paterno made a conscious decision to allow the raping of children? Let’s be honest, Paterno made a terrible mistake, but not the one everybody thinks he made. At the end of the day, nobody really believes Paterno is an evil man, in fact it is quite the opposite.  All the great things Paterno has accomplished in the past 60+ years didn’t suddenly evaporate.

Don’t misunderstand me…this is by no means a defense of Joe Paterno. It is literally killing a piece of me to say this, but this incident showed that it was time for the Paterno era in State College to come to a close.

I beg you to follow along closely to understand where I’m coming from with this. Go back to my original question about Paterno. Before you answer that, stop to remember the whole situation, and more importantly stop to view this not as somebody reading grand jury testimony (which was produced at the end of a lengthy investigation which produced information you would not have been privy to at the time), but in the light as it was presented to Paterno.

According the grand jury testimony, Paterno was told that Jerry Sandusky did things of a “sexual nature” to a child. The make-you-want-to-puke details don’t come out until later.  Meanwhile, consider that Sandusky was Paterno’s colleague and friend for over three decades.

In order to believe Paterno made such a monstrous conscious decision, you have to believe that a man who spent 63 years as a football coach at the same university would turn his back on a decades-long friendship. Say what you want to about Paterno, but the man exudes loyalty.

So, let’s go back to your “if that was me” argument. Are you certain – absolutely certain – that if somebody approached you and said your friend of 30 years was raping a kid in the shower, would you believe it? Would you even want to believe it?

Even if you did believe it, what would you do?

Option number one is to call the police, but remember an important legal point here…you didn’t see it happen, somebody only told you it happened, and didn’t even do that until the next day. That means even if you called the police, they aren’t going to act because they can’t do anything based on third-party information.

Option number two is to confront your friend…Oh, except you can’t in this case, because your friend is also your employee. Don’t forget for purposes of the Penn State organizational chart, Joe Paterno was a middle-manager and the accused Jerry Sandusky as the defensive coordinator was his direct report. That means there are all kinds of rules about how you address such allegations.

Option number three is to tell the Penn State employee who reported seeing the abuse to call the police…Oh, except you can’t do that because because the employee already fulfilled their organizational obligation by informing you.

In other words, you can’t go to the cops, you can’t confront your friend, and since the person who reported the incident also is an employee, you really can’t tell them what to do after they’ve told you about the incident in question.

In other words, Paterno did the only thing he legally could do. So, the argument becomes not what Paterno knew and when he knew it. Rather it becomes a matter of why do we force people in this country into positions where they need to worry more about legalities than moralities?

In other words, when did we become a country of such gutless wimps we worry more about covering our own asses instead of doing what’s right?

The bottom line here is this: Only Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz have criminal responsibility in this affair, which is why they are under indictment. The rest of this fiasco is a result of organizational mismanagement, an astonishing lack of leadership, and the fact that this country has too many “if that were my kid” people.

It isn’t difficult to see this if you break it down. The Penn State situation is horrifying not only for the heinous nature of the crimes alleged to have been committed, but it illustrates the gutless, soulless, and borderline-criminally negligent management we’ve allowed to exist in this country. Think about it. At no point in this this process did anybody show the leadership needed to stand up and scream from the top of Old Main “EXCUSE ME, WE HAVE A CHILD-RAPING MONSTER ON OUR HANDS! WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!”

Instead, a collection of football coaches – guys who pride themselves of instilling qualities into young men such as leadership, accountability, and courage – showed absolutely none of those things in themselves.

This is the part that’s tearing my guts out. Of all the people I held as heroes, one thing they all represented was being that “tough guy leader;” the guy that would stand up and say “THIS IS WRONG AND WE ARE GOING TO FIX IT!” For 43 years of my life, Joe Paterno was one of those guys.

Today, it is clear he no longer is. And he must go.

I mention this only because if we have a situation where something so monstrous is allowed to exist in a place that prides itself on leadership, accountability, and courage; in a place led by a living legend who exemplified those qualities, then it is incumbent upon EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to understand that this can happen anywhere, and that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to see that it doesn’t.

Look at the organizational management structures we use in this country. Just about every organization you can think of (Penn State included) has rules about reporting wrong-doing, and several of them (Penn State included) has rules about who is allowed to contact external entities.  Clearly, the rules are in place at Penn State; so much so that a graduate assistant coach didn’t immediately call 911 when he saw a sexual assault in progress.

The fact that nobody – NOBODY – stood up on the several opportunities which presented themselves to take the lead in this matter is an indictment of those individuals only so long as you are willing to contemplate the complete picture. The fact that so many people chose to “pass the buck” suggest they had a reason to do so; that the terms of not “toeing the company line” are grave enough to make them turn a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children. In other words, you must ask the question why did the organization put those individuals in a position forcing them into such a decision in the first place?

Now, back to the “if that was my kid” guy.  First of all, why does it have to be your kid? Does that mean you wouldn’t do anything if it weren’t your kid? Don’t recoil at that question; after all, it wasn’t Mike McQueary’s kid getting raped in the shower, and he did nothing.

Stop and think about why he did nothing. Suppose he breaks up the assault and beats the crap out of Sandusky in the process. The child victim then refuses to testify that he was in fact being raped. Now, McQueary is in the spot of facing a assault charge of his own, and he beat up a guy higher on the food chain than himself. He did the right thing, but now he’s looking a jail time and the loss of his job. He didn’t risk that for somebody else’s kid.

You’ve got to understand that lately we have a track record in this country of people almost always choosing to cover their ass and protect their jobs and friends rather than do the right thing.  If you can read the grand jury report of the Sandusky allegations and a) not get a vivid mental picture that makes you literally sick to your stomach and b) not want to blow his junk off with a 12-gauge, you may be as must of a monster as he is.

But what that rage, bloodlust, and thirst for justice hides is the equally-as-important concept that monsters like Sandusky live with the system we’ve built, and they live there because  “good” people can be forced to make decisions that ring more of self-preservation than “right” and “wrong.”

If it can happen to a man like Joe Paterno, it can happen to you.

It makes you feel better to think you would have the balls to do the right thing when faced with such a seemingly obvious choice. The truth is, you might not, because when push comes to shove, you are really being forced in such a situation to choose between legal and moral. If you aren’t willing to take the risks, then it does in fact have to be “your kid.”

Matt Millen is right. As a society, that makes us pathetic.

Great Moments in Joe Paterno History: “GET THAT SHIRT PULLED DOWN!”

One of the running bits here as Dubsism has been to chronicle some of the lesser-known, albeit tremendous moments in the career of the greatest coach in the history of college football, Joe Paterno.  In honor of his 408th career win (tying Paterno with Grambling legend Eddie Robinson), we thought this would be the perfect time to show some of the qualities that have made JoePa such a commanding figure in the sport.  While there are several hilarious moments in the following video, the title scene happens at the 1:16 mark.

Great Moments in Joe Paterno History: The Day JoePa Made a Clandestine Appearance At My Wedding

I’ll give you the moral of this story up front. This is what happens when a die-hard Penn State fan marries into a decidedly Boilermaker family. Not only is my wife a Purdue alum, her father is a chemistry professor at Giant Drum A&M. If that weren’t enough, the wedding was being held literally within a PGA-length golf course distance of the Purdue campus.

In other words, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Nittany Lion playing a road game in the heart of Boilermaker country. However, this does not deter me from having my football idol present on the day that promises to end my life as I know it.  Being that my wife wanted a fall wedding (we’ll discuss later how freakin’ stupid I am for marrying a woman who wanted to get married on a FOOTBALL WEEKEND!!!), since we are in the greater Lafayette metroplex, we had to schedule these festivities around the Boilermaker football schedule. This also means that even in the unlikely event the Joe Paterno accepted the invitation I sent, he wouldn’t be able to attend as he would have his own game to worry about.

It didn’t matter, I would not be deterred.

One of the central components of the wedding is that we were going to stick to an exceptionally reasonable budget. Part of that strategy was I used a graphic design program to make all of the printed materials for the wedding, such as the  invitations, RSVP cards, and the programs. I knew this was my shot. As I was creating these materials,  it was obvious that for JoePa to be present, I would have to sneak his image into one of these documents.  The wedding program was the obvious choice; the invitation offered too much time for a large number of people to scrutinize, and therefore rat me out.  After all, stealth was the key to success.  Plus, the program is the document which would be present in large numbers on the wedding day.

This meant hiding a picture somewhere. I made the decision that given a common theme of all these printed wedding materials was a floral pattern, I decided I would create a border pattern disguised to be floral in nature. Pay attention to the green, patterned band at the bottom.

Naturally, it isn’t immediately apparent what constitutes that pattern…until you blow it up and add just a bit of contrast.

The subterfuge was a complete success. Nobody was the wiser…until the day about a month after the wedding when I confessed.  What fun would it have been had I not let my wife in on how I injected the essence of winning into our day to counteract the inherent Purdue-iness of it all?

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