Time for change: Penn State football needs makeover, new colors

Penn State FootballThe new head coach of Penn State University, Bill O’Brien has his work cut out for him as he tries to replace legendary figure Joe Paterno.

Despite allegations surrounding the later part of his career, the man was a college football God.

The first head coaching change in nearly a decade and removal of Joe Paterno’s statue is complete. Now the University must find a way to put things behind. In order to move past the horrendous actions of Jerry Sandusky and the black cloud it has created for Penn State, they need more.

Hiring someone outside of the Penn State circle, as they did in Bill O’Brien was a shock. It wasn’t a former player, coach or anyone who had any ties with Penn State.

The decision has had its detractors, including Lavar Arrington who has stated he will be putting his Penn St. items in storage.

While many may want to condemn the University for the hire, it was the right choice. Someone who can help them move forward.

Another item that would help them move forward is by changing the team colors and possibly the team logo.

Yes, it is a legendary school, but change is what the school needs and there is no debating it.

Just looking at the logo and the colors you flash back to Joe Paterno and the awful and creepy Jerry Sandusky. It is a constant remembrance of a horrible cover up that hurt numerous children, and now adults, that have lived with these secrets.

The NCAA has already acted and taken away wins from 1998-2011, what’s left?

Unfortunately Penn State will always be remembered for this one fiasco and changing colors and possibly a logo would be the first step to starting something new and moving forward.

Paterno family speaks out after Penn State sanctions

The Paterno family continues to stand behind Joe Paterno and while many believe they need to shut their mouths, what else should be expected?

No matter what may or may not have happened a son (Jay Paterno) is going to stand behind his father.

The family believes “punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice.” and it’s hard not to agree with that statement.

All wins from 1998-2011 have been vacated and that doesn’t just hurt the University, but the players that put their ass on the line during those games.

The following is the most recent release from the family regarding the sanctions that were brought down to Penn State today.  

“Sexual abuse is reprehensible, especially when it involves children, and no one starting with Joe Paterno condones or minimizes it. The horrific acts committed by Jerry Sandusky shock the conscience of every decent human being. How Sandusky was able to get away with his crimes for so long has yet to be fully understood, despite the claims and assertions of the Freeh report.

The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno. The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal. The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.

That the President, the Athletic Director and the Board of Trustees accepted this unprecedented action by the NCAA without requiring a full due process hearing before the Committee on Infractions is an abdication of their responsibilities and a breach of their fiduciary duties to the University and the 500,000 alumni. Punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.

The point of due process is to protect against this sort of reflexive action. Joe Paterno was never interviewed by the University or the Freeh Group. His counsel has not been able to interview key witnesses as they are represented by counsel related to ongoing litigation. We have had no access to the records reviewed by the Freeh group. The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel. And the fact that several parties have pending trials that could produce evidence and testimony relevant to this matter has been totally discounted.

Unfortunately all of these facts have been ignored by the NCAA, the Freeh Group and the University.”

An open letter to Michael Robinson

Michael RobinsonDear Michael Robinson,

Shut up.

I am listening to you on the Dan Patrick radio program as I type (hosted by Bonnie Bernstein today) and did you really use the words “Joe Paterno” and “integrity” in the same sentence?

Did you really say the Freeh report was “one-sided”?

Some would argue that what Jerry Sandusky did was one-sided.

The powers that be at Penn St. at the time when Sandusky was running vile apparently had enough concerns to consider an investigation. The honorable Mr. Paterno apparently vetoed those concerns.

I’m still listening to the interview and I repeat: Shut up.

You are making yourself and your Alma mater look worse than it currently does, if that’s even possible.

The sports talk radio universe and the sports blog universe and the sports universe in general are going to be playing sound-bites from your interview today for years to come. Probably even under oath somewhere.

You are “outraged” at the decisions that the NCAA made? The decisions came “too fast”?

How long ago was the first victim learning his particular facts?

You want the victims “to learn all of the facts”? I’m guessing they know most of the pertinent facts.

They know (more than you or me or anyone else) how long Sandusky was allowed to continue his predatory behavior through his charity and the apparently tacit wink-wink and let’s look the other way approach taken by the honorable Mr. Paterno and his place of employment.

All of the money and probation and scholarship restrictions and re-writing of the record books in the world aren’t going to help you to know any more, or them to know any less.

They know. You say you didn’t know, and I believe you. You didn’t know, and you don’t know.

Shut up.

Penn State punished, too harsh?

Joe PaternoThe hard hand of Mark Emmert and the NCAA came down today on Penn State. The punishments are harsh for the school, but thoughtfully lesser on the students.

For starters, Penn State will have to shell out a $60 million dollar fine for covering up the Jerry Sandusky scandal. According the NCAA report Penn State committed a “football first” by allowing child sexual abuse to continue by being enabled under the football association. The integrity of the institution was repeatedly compromised when officers of authority chose to turn the other cheek. The NCAA executive commitee directed association president Mark Emmert to determine appropriate actions regarding the officials  from Penn State. Students have the right to feel trust in school officials and that bond was broken.Those that chose to drop the ball have to be dealt with individually. “As we evaluated the situation, the victims affected by Jerry Sandusky and the efforts by many to conceal his crimes informed our actions,” said Emmert. “At our core, we are educators. Penn State leadership lost sight of that.” Emmert recognizes that as educators a school  has the responsibility to protect the best interests and safety of their students.

Secondly, Penn State will suffer a four year post season ban. Thankfully the NCAA  recognizes that student-athletes are not responsible for what took place and were sure to lessen the impact of its sanctions on football-athletes. Any student-athlete who is either entering or returning will be offered the choice to transfer and compete at another school. If a student decides to remain with Penn State they will retain their scholarships, regardless of whether they choose to compete on a team or not. This is great for students as they have a choice in their future and the impact will not stifle their success.

Last but certainly not the least of the punishments. ALL wins from Penn State from 1998-2011 will be vacated. This is perhaps the most harsh punishment of them all. Considering this will erase the legacy of Joe Paterno. Sadly Joe Paterno will no longer go down in history as being one of the best coaches, he will be known as the coach who had his winnings erased because of a sexual abuse cover up. Hindsight is 20/20 but we all are wondering how different this all would have been if someone would have had the balls to stand up for what was right and bring what Sandusky was doing to the surface when this all started. Perhaps Paterno would still be with us, and his legacy would have been known for what it was not tarnished by such a tragedy.

Does Penn State deserve the death penalty for dirty dealings?

Louis FreehLouis Freeh with his 267 page report publicized thursday brought the community of Penn State to a stand still. Proving that not only did the late Joe Paterno know about the alleged sexual abuse of players by Jerry Sandusky, he played a role in covering it up. Penn State has a long and prestigious history, the kind legends are made of. This was the reasoning behind the cover up. Higher up officials were noted to have specifically requested that Paterno not pursue the allegations. Sadly, Paterno was alleged to have told Sandusky not to bring any “boys” around the school, however he was given keys to the showers and had his own office where a lot of the abuse took place. Taking a blind eye to the abuse and hoping it would “go away” was what was on the agenda of Penn State officials. The officials knew about it but were more concerned about public image and recruits than the victims. Sadly Joe Paterno a highly respected Coach and official allowed this to happen. With the recent public outcry, outrage and disbelief concerning how this was all handled has damaged the reputation of Penn State more than if they would have just fired Sandusky in the beginning. Perhaps then Penn State could have salvaged their dignity and allowed justice for the victims.

“What happened at Penn State is emblematic of a pervasive culture on college campuses where reputation is more important than academic quality, transparency, ethics and accountability,” said Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. “It also underscores the distressing fact that, in too many places, the academic mission has taken a back seat to athletics.”

What happens now? Many are wondering if the NCAA will repeat the 1987 Death penalty which was bestowed upon SMU for payment of players. An investigation ensued after allegations that SMU was paying off players that found  21 players who had received approximately $61,000 in cash. As a slap in the face to the NCAA, the payments were found to have started only a month after SMU had undergone its original probation from a previous investigation.  SMU officials were also found to have lied to the NCAA about when the payments had stopped, which in hindsight had only stopped for one month. Considering the level of criminal activity that took place at Penn State, what happened at SMU looks like a cakewalk. Its seems a harsh punishment for the players of Penn State but perhaps they can be transferred to other College Football teams that will fit their needs. Penn State officials should suffer the consequences of their actions.Eliminating football will definitely hit them where it hurts and force them to take a look and rebuild a new foundation.

I don’t see how Penn State football can thrive. How will they recruit new players? The stigma that will follow the current team wont be easily shaken. The death penalty seems to me to be the only real way to send a true shock wave to Penn State officials forcing them to change their ways. Public humiliation isn’t enough for a college community that turns a blind eye to their students who are being abused. If a death penalty isnt inflicted how can we be sure the cover ups wont continue?

If there is a hell, Joe Paterno is burning

Joe Paterno

Joe PaternoIf there is a hell, I hope Joe Paterno is burning. Or maybe getting raped by a guy five times older than he is and 10 times as strong. Poetic justice baby.

I can’t blame Paterno for what Jerry Sandusky did. In Paterno’s defense, Sandusky fooled everyone except his victims for a while. Sandusky was one of the “Thousand Points Of Light” under the first President Bush. I want to believe that Paterno found Sandusky’s “behavior, (I use that word because I can’t think of one more degenerate, decadent, low, mean, rotten, unhealthy, and/or wicked) to be abhorrent and despicable, against all norms of what any decent human being would find beyond the pale, beyond all acceptable beliefs.

I can blame Paterno for not doing a damn thing about it, except to try to cover his own ass.

In my career, I’ve been around people with immense power and literally (which is a word I rarely use) world-wide clout in their respective fields. Paterno had that type of sway in Happy Valley, most of Pennsylvania and in large portions of the rest of the universe, college football or otherwise. What powerful people are always most afraid of is… losing what they have.

Paterno had what he had at Penn St. for 46 years.

Whether it was good timing, blind luck, or long and thorough and forward-thinking work (the last one is the one I believe to be true), Paterno endured. The endurance became legend.

The legend became something that no one in Happy Valley could fuck with.

I have to wonder if Penn St. had been more successful in football in the years when Sandusky’s “transgressions” (is “multiple and repeated rape” a more accurate phrase here?) first appeared on Paterno’s radar, would JoePa have been more willing to take the hit?  Could he have told potential recruits “So what?  We were 11-1 and won our bowl game.  So we had to fire the Defensive Coordinator because he was a pervert?  Who cares?  It’s all good!”  The fact was, his teams had been down for a while. He didn’t want to make the situation worse.

Neither, apparently, did the President of the University, or the Athletic Director, or the guy who oversaw the Penn St. police Department.

At least Paterno had the decency to die before he could see the ruins of Sandusky’s “harvest” (another terribly misused word).

Whether or not the NCAA steps in and delivers the death penalty (and if it doesn’t in this case, why does the rule even exist? SMU paid players. USF had a basketball player involved in a rape case and self-imposed. Penn St. should do the same if the NCAA doesn’t.) the civil suits that are certain to commence as soon as the lawyers can get their suits pressed, are going to cripple Penn St.

Right now, why in the world would any high-school graduate, much less viable scholarship-grade athlete, choose the Nittany Lions for their collegiate experience?

Tear down the statue. Rename the library. Get Oliver Stone to make the movie. Burn in hell.

Joe Paterno, killed by Jerry Sandusky

Joe PaternoJoe Paterno sat in his wheelchair at his family kitchen table where he has eaten, prayed and studied football for more than a half-century as he was interviewed by Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post. It was the last we would ever hear from him.

Many will say that lung cancer robbed him of his life, but the Penn State scandal of Jerry Sandusky actually killed him or at least helped it along.

The legendary figure of College Football was diagnosed with cancer in November, only nine days after being fired due to sex abuse charges against former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.

As his life ticked past, the final two months ate away at him. Paterno was left unable to fight any longer. Despite his serious condition and obvious age issues, his heart was broken. Paterno loved every minute of coaching and shaping a young mind. It killed him to know there were people out there that thought he was blind to the fact or even part of a cover up.

Paterno was at a point in his life where coaching football and being involved kept him alive. It kept his mind as sharp as it could possibly be at his age.

Joe is a fighter, but when he received a note to pick up the phone and call Penn State is when things started to decline rapidly.

In the hospital spokesman Dan McGinn stated,  “Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications, his doctors have now characterized his status as serious.”

Paterno’s mind and body finally gave up. Much like the University decided to give up on him.

Let’s remember Joe Paterno for the good that he has done for not only Penn State, but for college football. It’s absurd to remember him for being part of a scandal when we don’t even know for certain the part he played it.

GB Bongiovanni can be followed @GBBongiovanni


Joe Paterno, Penn State win second championship: History 101

Joe PaternoLosing was never an option for Penn State and Joe Paterno’s 1986 national championship team. Finishing the season with an unblemished 12-0 record after defeating No. 1 Miami en route to their second national championship in four years, the “Duel in the Desert” was one for the ages.

Most of the talk leading up to the battle in Arizona was about a Vinny Testaverde-led Miami team and an explosive offense.  It was labeled by the media as David versus Goliath. Good versus evil.

According to Pennlive.com, “They had Testaverde. They had [Bennie] Blades. They had [Alonzo] Highsmith,” Penn State starting nose tackle Mike Russo said. “They had all these big name players. We certainly had our share of very reputable names, but at the end of the day, it was the chemistry and the camaraderie that gelled us together as a unit. Instead of having a team of individuals, we had a true team.”

The Nittany Lions picked off Miami’s Vinny Testaverde five times to help secure the victory 14-10.

Team captain, linebacker and future Buffalo Bills star Shane Conlan intercepted Testaverde twice during the title game and set up future Minnesota Vikings, D.J. Dozier’s game-winning touchdown by returning a fourth quarter interception to the five yard line.

The final interception of the night was hauled in by linebacker Pete Giftopoulos inside the Penn State five-yard line as Testaverde took one last shot at the end zone on fourth and goal. Giftopoulos ran the ball out the 10-yard line before he fell to the ground, securing the victory.

The 1986 Nittany Lions are one of five Joe Paterno led teams that finished the season unbeaten. They also include the 1968 (11-0), 1969 (11-0), 1973 (12-0) and 1994 (12-0) squads.

The team was built by defense and held nine opponents to 15 points or less, while also winning four games by six points or fewer.

That year, Penn State finished the regular season by beating Maryland (17-15), Notre Dame (24-19) and Pitt (34-14). The Lions also defeated No. 2 Alabama, 23-3, just the third loss by the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 25 years.