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Penn State Coaches Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden Deny Knowledge of ’02 Rape

Given the amount of sexual assault allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and the evidence that points to a large-scale cover-up in State College, many people figured that all the coaches on staff had to know something. We have been measured regarding our assertions of who knew what (and when), because it would be unfair to assume that everyone knew everything. Two current assistant coaches say they did not know of the 2002 rape allegation against Jerry Sandusky until recently.

Larry Johnson, the team’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, told ESPN “When you read the report, it sucks the life out of you. You read things that no one should be treated that way. Absolutely did not know anything that transpired in 2002. Whether people believe it or not is not really important thing, I think that’s something that we feel has to be told.”

Johnson has been on staff for 15 years, so he was around when the 2002 incident occurred. He also coached with Jerry Sandusky, so he may have been privy to some of the affairs from that time, including the 1998 investigation.

Assistant Ron Vanderlinden has more of an excuse because he has only been on staff since 2001. The current co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach vehemently denies any knowledge of anything until the recent investigation began.

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Joe Paterno a Racist? Wasn’t Ready to Play Black Quarterback in Late ’80s

While Andre Ware was winning a Heisman for Houston, and Randall Cunningham was putting up sick stats for the Eagles, Joe Paterno reportedly refused to play a black quarterback for Penn State.

Matt Paknis is a former graduate assistant who was part of the Penn State football program in 1987 and 1988. A few days ago, we passed along a report where Paknis says Joe Paterno knew everything about the Penn State program. Paknis also recognized in the late ’80s that Jerry Sandusky was always grabbing the players and had boundary issues. Well Paknis also says Joe Paterno wasn’t ready to play a black quarterback in the late ’80s.

“I was in a staff meeting one time and we were having some problems at quarterback with [Matt] Knizner, and someone recommended ‘what about Darren Roberts?'” Paknis recalled during an appearance on WFAN. “[Roberts] was an All-State quarterback from New Jersey. And Coach [Paterno] just said we’re not ready for a black quarterback.

“And we had Ron Dickerson in the room who was an assistant, and he just went ballistic. And I always thought was pretty cool that he stood up to Joe. But Randall Cunningham was the starting quarterback at the time for the Eagles. But Darren never got a chance for us — I don’t know why — but that was stated in the room.”

On his personal blog, Paknis said of Paterno “He was the consummate bully and control freak who banished players and their potential careers when they did not buy into Joe’s persona.”

Not buying into the Penn State way is a big part of the reason why Paknis left the program. Paterno eventually had black quarterbacks later in his career. Wally Richardson played quarterback in 1995, and Rashard Casey, Michael Robinson and Darryl Clark came later. But if Joe Paterno wasn’t willing to do the right thing back then — play a quarterback regardless of their race — what makes you think he’d be doing the right thing now?

UPDATE: As someone points out in the comments, Penn State briefly had a black quarterback in 1970. His name was Mike Cooper. It doesn’t mean what Paknis says is false, but it shows they did have a black quarterback in 1970. Perhaps Paterno felt the community was not ready for a black quarterback in 1987 or 1988.

H/T Deadspin, Sports Radio Interviews

More on the Penn State Scandal:
Joe Paterno Turned Down the Steelers Head Coaching Job in 1969
Joe Paterno sold house to wife for $1 to protect his assets?

Mike McQueary Reportedly Attended Jerry Sandusky Golf Fundraiser One Month and One Year After Witnessing Alleged Rape

Many people were thrown off when it was reported that Penn State coach Mike McQueary told former teammates in an email that he had stopped the Jerry Sandusky alleged anal rape in 2002. He also reportedly said in the email that he did talk to police (separate from head of campus police, Gary Schultz). It’s hard to know what to make of that news.

Is the email incorrect? Is the grand jury presentment leaving out information? Hopefully it’s information we’ll soon find out. Now here’s something else to add. McQueary reportedly attended a fund raiser for Jerry Sandusky’s charity — The Second Mile — in 2002 and 2003.

Sports by Brooks has been all over this story since the day the grand jury presentment became public. He tweeted on Tuesday that “McQueary played in Sandusky’s annual golf outing in June 2002 AND 2003.”

The Patriot-News cites a 2003 article published in the Centre Daily Times that confirms McQueary attended the 2003 charity golf event.

You can go one of two ways on this. You can take the denial approach and say this corroborates the story that Jerry Sandusky was just horsing around in the shower. Would Mike McQueary really be able to hang out with Jerry Sandusky at a children’s charity event after witnessing him anal rape a young boy?

Or, you can view this as a sign of McQueary being embedded in the cover-up.

McQueary may have stopped the anal rape and told Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz about it, but he continued to go with the flow because he did not want to jeopardize his coaching future at Penn State. If you believe this scenario, then McQueary is not a whistleblower, but another enabler who cared more about himself and Penn State than children being abused.

What do you take this piece of information to mean?

More on the Penn State Scandal:
Ex-Penn State Assistant: Joe Paterno Knows Everything
Mike McQueary Says He Stopped Sodomy, Did the Right Thing
Barry Switzer: Penn State Coaches Had to Know About Jerry Sandusky
Why Did Campus Police Director Call Off ’98 Jerry Sandusky Investigation?
Jerry Sandusky’s 1999 Retirement: Evidence Suggests He Was Forced Out

Did Joe Paterno Sell His House to His Wife for $1 to Avoid Civil Lawsuits?

As more information from the Penn State scandal leaks out, I’m sure we will be uncovering plenty more pieces of shady information like this one. Joe Paterno and his wife bought a home near the Penn State campus for $58,000 in 1969. According to court documents filed in Centre County, Penn. that were uncovered by the New York Times, the house is now valued at $594,484.40. Paterno and his wife, Suzanne, had joint ownership of the home until recently.  Now that’s what I call a solid investment.

For whatever reason, Paterno decided to sell the house to his wife for $1 four months ago, placing ownership of the property solely in her name.  Actually, he sold it to her for $1 plus “love and affection.”  What would inspire Paterno and his wife to complete such an odd transaction?

According to one of JoePa’s lawyers, Wick Sollers, the transaction was simply part of a “multiyear estate planning program” and the transfer was just an element of that plan.  Naturally, they insist Paterno selling his own home to his wife has nothing to do with the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

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Franco Harris Fired as Casino Spokesman for Supporting Joe Paterno

Slowly but surely, people will begin to get the hint. Defending someone at Penn State or anyone with a connection to the Penn State scandal is not going to get you anywhere.  In fact, you could lose your job over it.  Just ask former Penn State linebacker Franco Harris, who was fired from his job as spokesman for The Meadows Race Track and Casino in Pennsylvania after he went to bat for Joe Paterno.

“I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go,” the Hall of Famer said last week according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I’m very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They were saying the football program under Joe was at fault.

“They really wouldn’t give a reason. They’re linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover up. That’s very disturbing to me. … I think there should be no connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach. I’m still trying to find out who gave him access to the building, who signed that contract.”

On Tuesday, Harris was dismissed with the following explanation from the Meadows:

“In light of the recent developments with Franco Harris regarding Joe Paterno’s dismissal, Franco and The Meadows have mutually decided to put their business relationship on hold at this time, while these matters are looked into further.”

The moral of the story is we are dealing with an issue of child molestation here.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a fun-loving celebrity or a widely-respected coach, you had better think long and hard before defending Paterno or anyone within the Penn State program.  As Harris’ individual case has shown us, speaking out about such a sensitive issue can cost you more than just a reputation.

H/T to Off the Bench for sharing the story with us.

I’m Beginning to Lose all Faith in the Sanctity of College Sports

It’s becoming harder and harder to find a saving grace in college sports. Personally, I’d like to believe that the arena of college athletics is still the bastion of fine, upstanding amateur student-athletes and coaches who not only lead their teams on to the field of play but help to become mentors to sports’ next generation of leaders. (Then, again, I’d also like to believe that Erik Estrada is actually trying to sell me a valuable parcel of land in Utah that is in high demand.) However, that reality is slowly becoming tougher to believe in than the tooth fairy (even though someone in England just paid more than $31,000 for John Lennon’s molar, so apparently the tooth racket is alive and well). (Leave it to the English.)

Records show that “Eagles” is the most common nickname in Division I sports, though “Jurisprudence” might not be too far behind. There is an old joke in college football about having a school the football team can be proud of, a yarn that satirizes the fact that major college football is such a boon to many college campuses in terms of branding and revenue that academics often takes a backseat in the gridiron’s proverbial stretch limosine. This case could very well have been made at Penn State prior to the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal which has turned the institution in State College into Sordid Valley.

Penn State was a school that had largely remained untarnished by the other scandals and incidents plaguing other schools. However, the revelations of the past week or so have caused the grandeur to be eradicated by a grand jury: a 46-year Hall of Fame coaching career blemished by a firing that abruptly took place amidst the issuing of a 40-count indictment against Paterno’s former assistant.

This latest episode certainly is the most egregious disgrace to hit college sports since 2003, when Baylor’s head basketball coach, Dave Bliss, urged players and coaches to paint Patrick Dennehy, a murder victim, as a drug dealer to soften the blow for killer/teammate Carlton Dotson. Bliss and his career still have yet to recover from the episode, even as he has attempted to coach again at the high school level.

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Jerry Sandusky’s 1999 Retirement: Evidence Points to Him Being Forced Out

When Jerry Sandusky retired as Penn State’s defensive coordinator in 1999, was it because he decided he was done coaching, or because the football program asked him to step down to keep a 1998 sexual molestation case quiet? The more we review all the information from the time period, the more we’re convinced an agreement was reached for Sandusky to walk away from his job and leave college football for good. There are many reasons that support this theory.

When Sandusky retired after the 1999 season, it was publicly said that he was retiring to spend more time with The Second Mile charity.

Two items from the grand jury presentment could contradict that explanation.

1) Former vice president of business and finance, Gary Schultz, testified that “Sandusky retired when Paterno felt it was time to make a coaching change and also to take advantage of an enhanced retirement benefit under Sandusky’s state pension.”

2) Victim 4 from the presentment “remembers Sandusky being emotionally upset after having a meeting with Joe Paterno in which Paterno told Sandusky he would not be the next head coach at Penn State and which preceded Sandusky’s retirement. Sandusky told Victim 4 not to tell anyone about that meeting. That meeting occurred in May, 1999.”

The problem is the timeline of events proves that Schultz’s explanation does not make sense. Let’s take a look.

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