In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on January 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm


The death of former Penn State coach, Joe Paterno, has forced the university’s senior administrators and Board of Trustees to do something that neither group really, really wanted to do—honor the football coaching legend for his 62 seasons of service and philanthropy… at least not at this point in time, or possibly ever.  (Ask the University of Maryland if it ever plans to honor the coach that put them on the map—Lefty Driesell.  And don’t hold your breath waiting for a response.)

Faced with actually explaining their actions that led to Joe’s dismissal on November 9th, or simply keeping their collective mouths shut and bowing to the masses, the Board and school president were effectively forced into a corner by a horde of angry football lettermen, alumni and students. The angered ones demanded respect for a coach whom they feel was fired unjustly and unprofessionally for his alleged “lack of response” to the “shower incident” that is at the core of the Sandusky sex abuse scandal that has engulfed Penn State for over three months.  And the angered ones got what they wanted—in spades.

The Board and president largely stayed out of sight while the university community as a whole used Penn State facilities, websites, and so on, to pay its respects to the late coach with the pomp and circumstance befitting a man who literally put Penn State on the map as major force in athletics and in academics, as well.

The governor of Pennsylvania ordered flags to fly at half staff.  The stadium was lit-up for days.  Joe’s image was everywhere. The trustees and president begrudgingly paid their respects, in a statement, to the man and his legacy. Penn State varsity teams scrambled to adorn their uniforms with black ribbons and Joe’s initials.  Moments of silence were observed at sporting events wherever Nittany Lion teams were in action. Thousands of students organized a candlelight vigil at the main campus administration building.  A makeshift memorial appeared at the Paterno statue next to the stadium.  Uncountable numbers of mementos and photos covered the statue and surrounding pavement. Depending on whom you ask, 800 to a thousand, or more, former players arrived in town for three days of memorials. The funeral took place on campus at the spiritual center that the Paterno family funded (right across the street from the library that bears both Joe’s name and his financial backing). Fifty-thousand, or so, lined the campus streets and the main street in downtown State College to catch a glimpse of the funeral procession to the cemetery.  Ten-thousand tickets to a special memorial service in the basketball arena were scooped-up in seven minutes on-line.  And, those privileged people heard former players, family and friends hail the Paterno legacy and excoriate those who seek to damage it.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this, it’s that many of the folks at Penn State truly respect family and loyalty, and they pay back in kind.


Greg Schiano’s unexpected move to the NFL to become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers left Rutgers in a bind.

First choice, Mario Cristobal, the head coach at Florida International down in Miami, then turned down the job, and Rutgers promoted assistant Kyle Flood to head coach.

It’s a shame that Rutgers was afraid of a public backlash if they had hired Tom Bradley.  Schiano built his Rutgers program as a family, of sorts.  And, a Penn State guy like Bradley would have been capable of continuing that legacy.  Tom has over 30 years of experience at the program that owns New Jersey in the recruiting wars.  He’s somebody who could have really helped the Scarlet Knights take that next step.  Pitt made a big mistake over a year ago, when they passed up Bradley.  And, they’ve been through three coaches in the interim.  It would have been nice to see Rutgers make the gutsy call and hire Tom Bradley.

Sure, Kyle Flood is the safe call.  He’ll keep the 2012 recruiting class intact, but is he a better choice than Bradley for the long haul in a soon-to-be radically different Big East?  I have my doubts.


Should the Redskins consider getting into a Peyton Manning sweepstakes if the Colts decide to cut and run?

How bad is the injury to Peyton?  Is this another McNabb-Shanahan nightmare in the making?

It might be worth grabbing for Manning for no other reason than to get a veteran tutor for the young quarterback that the Skins absolutely must draft this spring.  Rex Grossman is neither the player nor the tutor you want in 2012.  Even a “three-quarters” Peyton is better than what the Skins have now.  I say go for it.

Then go get yourself one of the QB’S that should be available at number 6—Russell Wilson maybe?  I know he’s undersized at 5-foot-10-and change, but he knows how to work around an NFL-sized line.  Wisconsin is known for more than cheese, folks.  The Badgers’ front averages 6-foot-5 and Wilson set several school records and completed nearly 73% of his passes despite not being able to see over them.  It all comes down to how a guy moves in the pocket and handles the pressure and the tight spaces that he may find himself in.  Ask Drew Brees how that works.  He’s barely 6-feet and nobody’s complaining about how he runs an offense.

Of course, the Skins could still trade up to get Robert Griffin III.  He’s listed at 6-foot-2.  Will three inches be worth the three or four draft picks the Skins will need to give the Rams?  I say, buy Peyton and use your existing draft picks effectively.

Ross, the creator of Throwback Baseball 1.0, also blogs about sports memorabilia at:

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