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14 Nov 2011

One Foot Inbounds: Sappy Valley

by Robert Weintraub

I’ll admit it up front -- I’m biased. I’ve always loathed Penn State. I reflexively disliked them for their excellence and boring uniforms as a kid, and then when I went to Syracuse, they of course became the enemy. Worse, after my Orange whipped Joe Paterno a few years in a row, he took his ball and went home. Simply ended the series after decades of annual play. I tuned out all hosannas to his purity and morality and sportsmanship after that.

So while the circumstances were certainly horrifying, it’s not like I’ve been shedding any tears for the collapse of the program or the downfall of Paterno. And I can’t recall a game since SU was involved that I’ve rooted harder against the Nittany Lions than Saturday’s game at Beaver Stadium against Nebraska.

Mainly, I just couldn’t stomach the idea that a PSU win would stampede the media toward the "spirit of their love for Paterno willed a victory" storyline. Once the Nitts fell in a 17-0 hole and got to within 17-14, the potential for a particularly nauseating treacle was high. Fortunately for all sentient beings, the Huskers held off Penn State’s comeback attempt and won by three.

I mean, of course, the team came out arm-in-arm, the fans were vocal in their support, and new coach Tom Bradley was moved by how the campus stuck together. That’s the whole subliminal point hidden behind the crimes of Jerry Sandusky -- that the football mania empowered Paterno to believe he could bury such horrific monstrosity. Hardly the sort of thing that the college football commentariat should get all weepy about. You’d think there was a tsunami on campus or some other natural disaster from a lot of the reactions. I guess in a sense there was, but I’m in no mood to praise the bravery and unity of the Penn State football team. I’d rather praise Nebraska. How about maybe mentioning their upset win on the road for a minute? About how unified and brave the Huskers were to win under such tricky circumstances?

OK, off my soapbox ... and then back on it to say "I told ya so" about Stanford and Andrew Luck. Yes, he’s a great player and the presumptive No. 1 pick, but he has not been the best player in college football in 2011, and his team would get waxed by LSU. Oregon hammered the Cardinal 53-30 on an atrocious field in Palo Alto -- that thing looked like the Battle of Verdun had taken place on it. The Ducks offense deservedly got plenty of credit, but also look to the defensive line that was relentless in pressuring Luck. Oregon forced five turnovers -- Stanford had committed seven all season coming in.

My point all along is that Luck has mainly played against poor defenses all season, and even then he was handing off pretty often -- Stanford is a running team first. When Oregon forced Luck to throw by scoring on virtually every possession, Luck was incapable of rising to the occasion. So let’s stop with the "next John Elway" business until the kid gets into the NFL, OK? (P.S.: Per Darren Rovell, Oregon’s Duck mascot has now done 4,772 pushups since the start of 2010. Drop and give me 4,772!)

Also toppling was Boise State, which like Stanford has been crippled by injury this season. Boise lost a thriller against TCU, 36-35, to likewise remove themselves from BCS title game consideration. The Broncos probably lost this game when the Mountain West Conference barred them from wearing their standard all-blue uniforms on their non-standard all-blue turf in conference games. So Boise came out wearing jerseys that looked like the ones quarterbacks wear in practice so they don’t get hit.

Despite a phenomenal game from TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, Boise was in control, leading by seven and deep in Frogs territory with two minutes and change to play. Then, D.J. Harper, playing for injured starter Doug Martin, was knocked from the game. Third-string running back Drew Wright immediately came on for Boise, and then fumbled. Pachall led TCU down the field, and hooked up with Brandon Carter on a sluggo route to make the score 35-34. TCU coach Gary Patterson played for the win, and went for two. Pachall’s pass should have been picked off and brought back for two points the other way, but Josh Boyce outwrestled the defender for the ball and put the amphibians ahead.

Boise, being Boise, did not go gently into that good Idaho night. Helped by a highly-dubious pass interference call on fourth-and-10, Kellen Moore brought the Broncos into field goal range. Then, for the second straight season, Boise’s BCS dreams died off the foot of its kicker. This year’s model, Dan Goodale, is no Kyle Brontzman -- he’s only tried three kicks all season. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that he shanked it badly, and Boise lost 36-35.

That leaves LSU and Oklahoma State, who humiliated Texas Tech 66-6, as the lone unbeatens at the big kid table. Houston is also still undefeated and now hs a shot at a BCS game, though of course not the title matchup. The Cougars do get to host ESPN Gameday next week though, which is a nice consolation prize. We’ll be getting into the whole "who goes if Oklahoma State loses?" issue plenty in the coming weeks, so no need to shoot our wad here.

Suffice to say, for those who want the BCS destroyed, root for Oklahoma in Bedlam with all your might, for that way the arguing over who deserves to play the Tigers will be endless. Assuming that LSU doesn’t trip, of course. That would be ironic, though not in the monstrous way that the title of Jerry Sandusky’s memoir is.

It’s called Touched.


  • No real surprise that LSU and Alabama sleepwalked through their games a week after their Rocky versus Drago-esque mutual beating. LSU got it going earlier than did Bama, rocking Western Kentucky 42-9. The Tide heard the cowbells clanging for longer than they’d have liked before putting the Bulldogs down 24-7.
  • Joe Adams had one of the most insane punt return touchdowns you will ever see against Tennessee in the Hogs 49-7 rout. Check it out here. There are no words.
  • Perhaps the game of the day took place in Hattiesburg, where Southern Mississippi took its seven-game winning streak out for a stroll against Central Florida. Trailing by seven with just under three minutes left, the Knights forced a turnover inside their own red zone, then drove the field to set up a final shot at the end zone. Freshman quarterback Blake Borties found freshman wideout J.J. Worton on an unreal 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 30-29. Like TCU, Central Florida went for two and the win, but unlike the Frogs, the Knights came up shy. Eight straight for Southern Miss. Rumor has it alum Brett Favre mowed the number into his lawn.
  • I’m just thawing out my nether regions after sitting through Georgia Tech’s loss to Virginia Tech on Thursday night in freezing temperatures. Probably shouldn’t have worn shorts. Alas. The Institute had matters under control, up five and on the doorstep of forcing the Hokies to punt from deep inside their own territory, when Jeremiah Attaochu inexplicably slugged quarterback Logan Thomas. Revived, VaTech drove for a touchdown and dominated the fourth quarter. Thomas was particularly impressive, repeatedly carrying tacklers on basic sneak plays. He’s 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, and looks like an even more athletic Josh Freeman out there.
  • Toledo beat Western Michigan 66-63 in another MAC-ky shootout. Last week the Rockets scored 60 and lost. 126 points in two games, and their record is 1-1.
  • Further on Boise -- the loss to TCU costs them the big BCS payout, but they now won’t have to pay almost $22 million in exit fees should they bolt to the Big East. Did he miss the kick on purpose?
  • Oklahoma State is a passing team, but running back Joseph Randle is on an amazing tear. He had three scores in the crushing of the Red Raiders, and now has 21 touchdowns on the season, 14 of them in the last four games. Still, he’s just a little behind a former Cowboy who scored 37 times in a single season, 1988, and owns the FBS record -- guy by the name of Barry Sanders.
  • My Orange lost again, 37-17 to South Florida, in a season that is turning ugly. The reason for this one was the dozen or so dropped passes by SU receivers, but the larger problem is that coach Doug Marronne insists on playing a physical style without the personnel for it. The Bulls dominated the ‘Cuse on the line of scrimmage. Now they have to beat either Cincinnati or Pittsburgh to become bowl eligible. The holidays could be bleak.


1. LSU
2. Oklahoma State
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. Arkansas
6. Oklahoma
7. Clemson
8. Stanford
9. Boise State
10. Virginia Tech
11. Houston
12. Michigan State
13. South Carolina
14. Wisconsin
15. USC
16. Kansas State
17. Georgia
18. Southern Miss
19. Nebraska
20. TCU
21. Michigan
22. Penn State
23. Notre Dame
24. Florida State
25. Baylor


1. Oregon's defense.
There were too many standouts to single one out. Oregon’s offense puts lots of pressure on opponents, but the defense has come up big in the most significant games -- remember they did to Auburn what Auburn did to them, for the most part, in last year’s BCS title game. Saturday, they forced Andrew Luck into one of his worst games ever as Stanford’s quarterback, thanks to three sacks and over a dozen hurries.

2. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama. The Tide were ripe for a letdown upset at Mississippi State, but the defense refused to let them lose. Hightower, who was typically brilliant with 11 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a pass deflection, was a big reason for that.

3. Chandler Catanzaro, K, Clemson. C.C.’s career has been marked by crucial misses, and he added to the list when he missed a late attempt in a 28-all game against Wake Forest. But the Tigers got it back, and as time elapsed, Catanzaro hit the game-winning kick from 43 yards out. It was the first time since 1948 -- 1948! -- that Clemson had won on a last second figgie at home.

4. Danny Hrapmann, K, Southern Mississippi. The upset bid by Central Florida was turned back thanks to five field goals from Hrapmann, three from more than 40 yards away. Honorable mention to Knights corner Josh Robinson, who was everywhere for UCF in a losing effort.

5. Eain Smith, DB, West Virginia and Bruce Gaston, DL, Purdue. Both Smith and Gaston made their impact on a single play: respectively blocking a kick at a critical time. Smith’s rejection of a field goal allowed the Mountaineers to win at Cincinnati 24-21, while Gaston’s block of an Ohio State PAT forced overtime, where the Boilers upset the Buckeyes 26-23.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 14 Nov 2011

69 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2013, 6:00am by pawello


by justanothersteve :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 2:24pm

Wisconsin won because they didn't have to defend against a Hail Mary on the game's last play.

I didn't know about Sandusky's memoir. I didn't think it possible, but I'm even more creeped out by the guy now.

by Floyd (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 2:39pm

Thank you for bringing up Paterno's dropping of the Syracuse series in the late '80s.

Unlike you, I grew up admiring Penn State and Paterno. But after the shameful, duplicitous way in which Paterno dropped the series, my eyes were opened.

A lot of people had their image of Paterno shattered this past week. Not me. Long ago I learned he was lying scumbag, concerned only with his own glory.

Karma's a bitch JoePa.

by Hang50 :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:09pm

I'll be very interested to see the LSU-Arkansas game. I've only seen Arkansas play a couple times since Tyler Wilson became quarterback, but he's really impressed me as someone who throws very catchable balls. I don't think Arkansas' OL will consistently be able to give Wilson enough time, but if they do, I think he'll have some success Plus, the Hogs have won two of the last three in the series.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:15pm

Another good take on the disturbing nature of PSU on Saturday here: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7233704/the-brutal-truth-penn-state

I think it is so funny that people retreat to the exactly the same places intellectually that allow these horrible tings to happen. You see students proudly claiming "PSU is my school and I will support it regardless of what happens". Isn't that exactly the kind of thinking that led to this? Valuing the institution above the day to day concerns of normal life.

The media is so eager to build all these coaches players and schools into perfect heros with no moral flaws for the silly reason that they excel at one particular athletic contest or other. Then when some of them turn out to be fallible (as is the case everywhere) the media acts all shocked shocked that these people it just spent deifying for years are in fact imperfect. It certainly wasn't an important factor in allowing this to happen, but it probably was a factor. Paterno was treated as some moral hero for being a good and long serving football coach. People began to believe this story about his great moral rectitude despite it not being based on any real examples.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:54pm

So what would have appeased you and Weintraub and Grantland? The spontaneous suicide of everyone on campus? How much blood do you want? Once we get done with the royalty, Robespierre, who comes next?

by Eddo :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 4:06pm

Canceling the game would have been a start, I think. The football program, along with the culture that enabled such abhorrent behavior, needs to be built again from scratch.

Bo Pellini agrees:
"Going into the football game, I didn’t think the game should have been played, for a lot of different reasons. My job as a football coach is to educate and to prepare the kids that come into the program for the rest of their life and that’s what we are. We’re a university system

"The situation that’s going on is bigger than football. It’s bigger than that game we just played. It’s bigger than the young men in the game who would have missed it had they called it off."

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 4:37pm

Nebraska had the option to cancel the game. If Pellini had the courage of his convictions, and he thought life was larger than football, he would have forfeit and stayed in Lincoln.

I don't see what would have been gained by cancelling the last home game for a class of seniors who were in elementary school when the scandal occurred. All that would have happened was reinforcing the siege mentality that PSU students and alums already have.

by Eddo :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 4:44pm

I don't care if Pellini is a hypocrite, frankly. That's immaterial as to why it should have been canceled.

His sentiment is what I agree with: the main issue at hand (a culture that enabled possibly dozens of young boys to be sexually abused) is much bigger than the final home game for a class of seniors in college. It's not fair to the players, yes, but in the words of Joe Paterno himself, that's tough.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:07pm


Should Duke's Center for Health Policy be similarly disbanded, and its administration terminated? Or are academic pursuits sacrosanct? I understand your position, I just think most people are lashing out at the wrong targets and perceiving things in a slanted manner. I'm also seeing a lot of witch-hunting, and very little good or of worth results from an angry mob.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 8:21pm

I'm going to appreciate your silence once it becomes clear that McQuery told Paterno EXACTLY what he saw, and it was Paterno who chose to cover up the incident.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:55am

And when Paterno is cleared, will you go quietly into the good night? Or will you continue to bury a man who committed no crimes?

by Eddo :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:00pm

Being cleared of criminal activity is not the same as being cleared of ethical and moral failures.

Paterno knew, at the very least, that Sandusky was performing inappropriate acts with children. And he did nothing except report it to his technical superiors (when in fact he was the person with the most power to actually do something about the situation).

by SFC B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 8:26pm

I must have missed the formation of a "Health Policy TV Network".

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:48pm

Generalized assertions without specific content are of limited utility. Unless an argument can be made that canceling a football game would have benefitted the victims of rape, or made future rapes less likely to occur, there just isn't much to be said in support of such an action. It is pretty likely that once all the facts are known, no person in the chain of command in the football program, up through the athletic director and president, can be allowed to stay, and that is the house cleaning that matters, not the cancelling of a game . In any case, before more careers are ended, as many no doubt will be, all the facts should be known. The rapist is indicted, although the bail terms are troubling, in light of the judge's relationship with 2nd Mile, and some careers have been ended. The rest of the mucking of the stalls can wait until the evidence has been made public.

by GlennW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 4:33pm

I think ideally out of respect the game should have been postponed for at least one week given the high emotions in the immediacy of this tragedy, but that probably wasn't practical given the few weeks remaining before the Big Ten championship game. While I fully agree that the football game is trivial in the entire scheme of things, then again, I don't make my livelihood from it as so many innocent people around the university do. Tough crap for them, you say. Well, out here in the real world I don't think many of us would expect their business or organization to shut down-- and there are indeed people calling for the permanent dismantling of the football program-- in such circumstances as a symbolic gesture.

As it played out, I thought the great majority involved and in attendance behaved respectfully and solemnly. Among other things, much money was raised at the game (and elsewhere around campus) in support of the victims of child abuse. I might have felt differently had Penn State actually won the game and indeed had marched to Joe Paterno's house to present him the game ball, but that didn't happen and is another matter entirely.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:50pm

The football game, or lack thereof, is trivial, by comparison, which is why cancelling it has no purpose.

by GlennW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:29pm

Agreed. I would only support a short postponement of the game as opposed to a total cancellation just to allow some of the principals involved-- including the students-- a chance to clear their heads to the extent possible.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:57pm

I think actually just playing the football game normally and not making a huge show of penitence would have been better. Anyone as deeply horrified by what happened as they all pretended to be wouldn't be there.

instead they still go but make a huge show. The huge show makes you FEEL better. But the huge show is part of the process that allows people to forget about things like this and move on.

It is just like the addict who makes a bunch of grand public gestures after a mistake. That often leads to worse outcomes than quietly grinding out the recovery.

Because the grand public gestures are used as deflection, and as a pre-emptive defense against scrutiny.

On top of that I personally find the praying deeply distasteful. Aren't they are praying to the same god that those children's families were praying to before the abuse? The same one Sandusky prays to? The idea that some wishful thinking at the invisible sky-father does anything other than trivialize what happened is frankly absurd. It is all show and no substance.

by GlennW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:43pm

Individuals were free to make a "show" of their feelings in the manner of their choosing, and that's what they did. I have my own way of dealing with tragedy-- in private stoicism for the most part-- but I'm not one to tell someone else how they should deal with their emotions. I might not believe in any God but I see nothing distasteful about the team prayer. For one thing, the players themselves are undoubtedly some very confused persons right about now, and I'm not going to be so judgmental about their rather innocuous actions while in such a state. Certainly not to the point of criticizing a lack of introspection over the existence of a just God or anything like that.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 1:04am

Its not the players, it is the whole package. Any individual part of it would sort of be fine, but it turned into a huge catharsis-fest, as though everyone was just wishing it all away with their really really sincere seriousness about the whole thing. On top of that at least some decent portion of those football players are non-religious (20%?). So you have a fake gesture in that sense. None of them can in a socially acceptable way say they are not going to participate in that prayer.

I guess I just see that dis-ingenuousness and priority of appearance over substance too similar to the central sin of placing appearance over substance at the heart of the scandal. It just seems like the same kind of thinking. Our school is under attack so we will make a show of circling the wagons.

I guess I just didn't see anything at all that made me think that the institutions learned much more than the most superficial of lessons.

by GlennW :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:47am

What would you rather have seen, or wanted? I mean jeezus, there's really nothing that can be done or said in such a situation. Given that, I did not feel that the simple moment of silence and the players' prayer-- led by a Nebraska coach by the way-- was at all inappropriate. You don't even have to be religious to share in such a show of respect for humanity (I'm not religious but I will join in prayer led by my mother-- not because I'm "disingenuous" but because I'm not a self-centered jackass).

What about the shots of people crying in the stands? Was that phony too? I know, I know, if those people were really sincere in their sadness, they would have stayed home.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:10pm

Josh, if you really think Paterno was "made" to be a moral hero by the media then you have no clue about the history of college football. Paterno tried to instill a football program that preached academics first. He famously refused to run scores up on opponents, which led to Nebraska winning the 1994 national title despite Penn State having one of the best offenses in Division 1 history. He gave millions of his own money to the University, and spent countless hours raising tens of millions more. Paterno earned every accolade the media gave him.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:43pm

That you really think he earned every accolade the media threw at him is exactly my point. Given some of the accolades that he got previous it is is impossible. To "earn them" he would have to be a perfect human being, and no one is perfect.

I also don't see not running up the score as an important moral virtue. Nor giving millions back to your employer (if that is even true?) when you are wildly overpaid and working in management in an industry that is at great pains to make sure its main labor force is as under-compensated as possible. Not to mention the fact that most wealthy people give away large amounts of money, that is part of what it means to be wealthy. There are huge tax and social benefits to doing so.

He was a great guy sure, but so is my neighbor, so is my boss. My boss doesn't get repeated fellated in the national media.

by Joe Gibbs (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 12:54am

I dunno, I seem to remember a national media ruckus when the New England Patriots were running up the score in the first half of 2007, and that's a professional football franchise. Perhaps not a true moral issue, but RUTS is widely seen as unsportsmanlike.

As for the financial side, Paterno was (himself) underpaid relative to the salaries his peers were making. He was a vocal proponent of player stipends, given the revenue associated with football as compared to the value of the scholarship and the poor economics of many top players. Paterno did donate about $4M to build a new wing on the library, that's true. But give this story another week and he'll have stolen that money from the school to run an internet child porn ring.

Besides, it doesn't require perfection to earn accolades in the college football climate; very little effort at non-football issues practically makes one a saint by comparison. How sad is it that while Penn State is consistently one of the top schools in player graduation, this is often regarded with disdain as some kind of gimmick, rather than celebrated? The education is the true value most players ever get from their time in college football. Most never see the NFL and even fewer see significant money. The factory schools are dishonest to imply otherwise, and selfish not to do more than pay the way for those who keep the cash cow running.

And Paterno was far from secure as a coach: pressure for him to step down as "too old" started in '88, and this increased after a 7-5 showing in 1992. He's spent 20+ years on his way out as a coach, with everyone (including Paterno) too afraid to actually move on.

This story is shocking and awful, and now Paterno's legacy will be forever associated with the program's failure to deal with it as it happened. No measure of his other good deeds can alter this perception as there's no journalistic value in it. The bang for the buck is to escalate from fire the coach to cancel the game to end the season to close the program to end college football forever. Ohio State fans can only nod quietly as they realize that Woody Hayes is only remembered for the punch, which seems almost charming now by comparison.

by Harry (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:33am

Just to sidetrack the entire conversation - you can't "run up the score" in professional football, and pundits who attacked the Patriots in 07 were just grandstanding. Running up the score is considered bad sportsmanship because it is bullying - in high school or college you can get true physical mismatches where one opponent really has no chance of fighting back. The football equivalent of a heavyweight fighter taking on a 140 lb amateur - it's just ugly, and good for Paterno for not doing it. However the NFL is a very different situation. The league is supposed to be fairly well balanced, and coaches and owners are given the tools to make that balance possible - drafting position, salary cap, access to free agents, etc. So if you are getting beat in the NFL 60-0 it's really your own damn fault and you deserve to be shown up for the mediocrities you are. On top of that, people pay a lot of money in tickets and merch and expect a a good show from professional athletes, so watching a team dog it to avoid "running up the score" is an insult to fans.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 1:03pm

Josh, wildly overpaid? Joe Paterno was one of the lowest paid big time coaches in college football! You clearly have no grasp of the facts and are simply a Paterno hater.

And many would argue that sportsmanship is an important virtue, especially when acting as one costs your team a national title.

by GlennW :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 1:12pm

Please elaborate on why you think declining to run up the score cost the 1994 team the national title vote. I followed that team closely and Penn State scored plenty of points including in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. I don't think the voters gave full and accurate consideration to the greatness of that offense, but ultimately they voted Nebraska #1 because Penn State's defense was very ordinary by championship standards. Right or wrong about the overall quality of team, Penn State scoring even more points in a few games was not going to change anything imo.

by Rocco :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 2:02pm

Penn State was up 35-10 in the 4th against Indiana and called off the dogs. Indiana scored on the last play of the game to make the final score 35-29. That week Nebraska jumped PSU for #1 in the polls and never looked back.

by GlennW :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 2:47pm

Right. Penn State held the #1 spot for all of one week over the entire season (after Nebraska had relinquished it earlier in the season, likewise based on game performances). Then the following week on national TV Penn State had to rally in the final seconds to beat unranked Illinois 35-31. The defense continued to struggle for the rest of the season and the final vote wasn't even close. It's highly dubious that those couple late TDs-- which I question had much to do with "sportsmanship" (one of the TDs was a lucky Hail Mary pass)-- that (unranked) Indiana scored with four games remaining to be played cost Penn State the national title. It's an unsupportable claim in my opinion, actually.

by Rocco :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:25pm

PSU held 1st place for 2 weeks that year. In 1994 Florida started the year at #1 in both the CNN and the AP poll. Nebraska went 1st after a bye week on September 5, then there was a split between Florida and Nebraska until Florida lost to Auburn on October 15. The next poll, PSU was #1 in both polls with Nebraska 3rd and Colorado 2nd. The AP poll had Nebraska 1st on October 31, with the CNN poll having PSU in 1st. On November 5, PSU beat Indiana, while Nebraska beat Kansas (who went 6-5 that year, just like Indiana) 45-17. (Unfortunately I can't find a box score). Nebraska took over #1. The next week PSU came back to beat Illinois (who went 7-5 and had Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy) on the road 35-31, while Nebraska beat 0-10-1 Iowa State 28-12. This is courtesy of the ESPN encyclopedia. Anyone who saw the game saw that PSU was up big in Indiana and pulled starters, but most voters don't watch games and only saw that PSU won by just a TD over an unranked team.

by GlennW :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:55pm

I fully concede that the final score of the Penn St-Indiana game was the only reason that PSU dropped from the #1 spot that week. I just believe that Penn St had the opportunity to gain it back with a more impressive finish, but instead the defense slipped even further. Maybe the meme at Penn St really was "sportsmanship cost us the national title", but personally I was frustrated by the performance of the defense (#70 in 1-A that year) in the Illinois, Michigan St and even Oregon games that followed.

For the record Penn State's final point differential was 564-252, and Nebraska's 459-162. Assuming similar quality of competition (which appears about right), something like the Pythagorean formula favors Nebraska there. Plus, and probably most importantly, Nebraska had the opportunity to play and beat #3 Miami in the bowls while Penn State ended up with #12 Oregon. Penn State-Nebraska is a game I desperately wished could have been played, but I really don't blame voter bias or ignorance for the final vote result, rather just the flawed system working with the data it had at its disposal.

by TanGent (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:24pm

By the end of the year, Penn State's defense was a shell, and they needed that offense to win the games. At the beginning they were dominant on both sides, but ultimately the offense scored too quickly, and the defense was on the field for too long. The injuries stacked up to the point where it was a 3rd string lineup by the end of the year.

But really, the Kordell Stewart hail-mary pass was the play that defined the season. Without it, the Penn State win was over an undefeated Michigan; with it, Nebraska got the win over undefeated Colorado. With Penn State getting weaker on defense, the polls had to recognize the result of a #2/#3 matchup as #1.

To add insult to injury, the game never played between Nebraska and Penn State was the genesis of the BCS, to have those two dominant teams meet on the field. Most years, though, there just aren't two clear favorites.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:22am

Great points Rocco. The Illinois game goes down in my top five games in Penn State history. Illinois had an incredible defense that year, and to come back from 21 down after a fluky first quarter was Collins' best Penn State achievement. But it was the Indiana game that led to Penn State's demise

by TomKelso :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:20pm

Yo, citrus boy -- Horned Frogs are NOT amphibians. As has been said several times over the past few years, the bizarre little critters are reptiles. We know you went to Syracuse -- you should have been able to pick up fact-checking by osmosis from the journalism school.

GameDay in Houston, huh? Wonder if they would have gone to San Diego if Boise hadn't shanked it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:49pm

Toledo beat Western Michigan 66-63 in another MAC-ky shootout. Last week the Rockets scored 60 and lost. 126 points in two games, and their record is 1-1.

On the flip-side, the Rockets allowed 126 points in two weeks and went 1-1.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:02pm

why is it that the same people who have for ten years called Paterno a figure head puppet who doesnt have any control over the team now say he was a msstermind CEO that worked to protect the program at all costs?

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:46pm

A) This happened a long time ago.
B) Being a figurehead who is mainly doing ceremonial and administrative work and no longer actively coaching is not inconsistent with grave moral failing in that ceremonial and administrative work.
C) I certainly don't see anyone claiming he was a mastermind behind anything. Clearly the people above him are the worst actors here. He only comes off looking really bad if he had more knowledge of what was going on than it currently seems.

by Spoilt Victoria... :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:57pm

Because people who get really into college sports basically turn into Mean Girls.

by AMFK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:52pm

Not an upset. Nebraska was favored.

by Kal :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 8:21pm

Only because of the scandal. Before this the lines were fairly heavily in favor of PSU.

by Jeff Fogle :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:01pm

Kal, I'm afraid that's not remotely true.

*Nebraska opened -2.5 offshore Sunday evening

*Story breaks on Monday, with major public acknowledgement when Kim Jones discusses it on WFAN

*Tuesday was Millen's emotional response on ESPN's daytime sportscenter

Line moved toward Nebraska as the scandal broke, peaking at Nebraska -4 but commonly settling around a field goal.


If the game had been played a bit earlier on the calendar, the line may have opened Nebraska -4. They both have Northwestern as a recent common opponent. Penn State was -4.5 on the road (-7.5 on a neutral field). Nebaska was -17.5 at home (-14.5 on a neutral field. That's Nebraska by 7 over Penn State neutral, which is -4 on the road. Opener of -2.5 likely a reaction to Nebraska's very poor result vs. Northwestern.

But, the game did open as Nebraska favored by 2.5 before the story broke, and was -3 at the time RW himself picked Nebraska in the SDA article that ran last week. So, RW himself knew at one time that Nebraska was favored in that game...and that he didn't win his pick because it was a push. Maybe it was a "unified and brave" push, but it's not an upset when the favored team wins. And, it would be odd for the media to celebrate a team that almost blew a 17-point lead to an opponent with a horrible offense.

by ibanez_ax (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 8:14pm

So Weintraub, you hate Penn State and Paterno, I get that. But you're happy that he was fired in disgrace mainly because he cancelled a FOOTBALL series against your precious alma mater?

That's petty to say the least.

Disclaimer: I've been a Penn State fan since 1966, and Joe needed to go after all this came to light. I never bought into his "Saint Joe" persona, he was a football coach, plain and simple.

by GlennW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 9:13pm

At some point in young adulthood I came to the same conclusion on Paterno's "saintliness". I also think he relaxed his own recruiting and disciplinary standards in his later years, after the best recruits stopped coming to Penn State. Maybe part of it was just me opening my eyes, but I stopped believing that the Penn State football program was anything terribly special somewhere around the time that they joined the Big Ten.

by MurphyZero :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:56pm

Penn State Alum and fully agreed with your comments GlennW. Hated joining the Big Ten as it ruined many of the old rivalries. Would have been better with Pitt, West Virginia, etc. Would probably have helped those programs as well, though Penn State has always gotten bashed in the media for one reason or another, mostly treated only slightly better than Boise State has been.
I think Joe has delegated a lot of the responsibilities to the coaches under him, probably 10-15 years ago, and it has affected all aspects of the team. I thought he should have left around 2000 or so. Given the news that has been coming out, he probably should have left at the same time as Sandusky.
Additionally, what has come out at this point doesn't even appear to be half the story. I think if we ever get the full story (unlikely), I think McQueary comes out looking better than he has been portrayed so far, though perhaps not without some blame. JoePa could look better, or look worse. Sandusky and the AD and the college president are all going to look worse and worse. The central PA justice system hasn't received the full criticism it is due--look at the handling in 1998 and also the current handling: the Judge who set bail also volunteers at Second Mile. This fiasco should cost numerous people their jobs and rightly so.

by Iostcause :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:01pm

It's not the first time since 1948 that Clemson has won on a last second field goal at home. That's just when they started tracking the stat. It's been longer than that, and it may have never happened at all.

Plenty of last minute field goals, but never a walk off type deal, to borrow the baseball term.

by Joel (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 11:03pm

To be fair, the raping (Christian Peter), deadly assaulting (Lawrence Phillips), attempted murdering (Tyrone Williams, Riley Washington), investigation obstructing (Tom Osborne) Huskers don't exactly have a clear conscience. And it's not like they ever apologized for their crimes either. Nor did their fans ever hold them accountable for them; Tom Osborne represented Nebraska three times in congress!

by Mood_Indigo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:45am

Hey Weintraub

If you were to be bothered to follow Stanford football, you'd know that Luck played without his #1 receiver and deep threat (Chris Owusu) and his experienced tight end (Ertz). That was no excuse for the defeat. Oregon beat Stanford soundly. Stanford was outplayed and outcoached. Luck had a bad game -- unlike at USC where he had a good game.

And spare me that "best football player" nonsense about Heisman. If the best football player were to be awarded the Heisman, then Stanford's Toby Gerhart would have won it two years ago instead of Mark Ingram.

Luck is the best college QB. That's Steve Young's view. He has season tickets to Cardinal football and watched Luck play for the last two years. That's also the view of most pro scouts. Who cares what the media thinks of Luck? Certainly not the Stanford fans. Note that Stanford did not hype Luck's Heisman candidacy.

OK. I'm off my soapbox. Now you can go back to counting Casey Keenum's or Kellen Moore's yards.

by Kal :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:43pm

The best football player wasn't Ingram or Gerhart - it was Suh. In a perfect world Suh would have rolled away easily with the Heisman.

Luck is almost certainly going to be a stellar QB. He has never shown otherwise, even against good teams. That being said, he also has not had that transcendent game against a good team where he willed his team to win; compare this to last year with Cam Newton vs. Alabama as an example, or Reggie Bush against Fresno State. And that's going to hurt him. He's not a stat accumulator. He's not the best player on the best team in the nation. He doesn't have a marquee win.

Luck probably will win the Heisman and honestly he should (though I do think that what LMJ is doing right now is pretty absurd, especially since he missed two full games), but I also can see that the shine on him isn't there and he's not on a team that depends on him to win.

by deardo :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:56am

I have to say I agree with Robert. The whole pregame seemed ridiculously over the top...a sort of Jim Bakker-type performance. Just a quiet moment of silence in honor of the victims (one of whom was not Joe Paterno) would have sufficed.

It's always difficult in times like this to strike the right tone, but usually less is more. I think the gesture to donate money to victims' organizations is really great. I just hope the students come to realize how stupid they appear in defending JoePa. There are many lives irreparably damaged due to his decisions...and I don't think we have had a full accounting yet of the scope of this yet.

Also, I think that criticizing the board is really short sighted. They simply had no choice but to clean house. The financial repercussions of this, the years of lawsuits that could reach $100M or more, are probably forcing their hands even if they wanted to keep anyone. I wonder how this will affect the economy of Central PA as game day brought a LOT of money in to a pretty poor area.

Just a horrible situation.

by Anonymous Nonpedo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:48am

I went to PSucks, and the top 4 all need to go to jail and Sand., if convicted should get something far worse.

Paterno took his football and went home,but Syrexcuse took their basketball and went home.
Pate wanted to join the Big East, but Syra. didn't want them.
Put equal blame on both for that.

by Mr Derp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:42am

I think Miss St moved the ball on Bama because they have a competent QB whereas LSU has idiots behind center. I also think Miss St should have stuck with Russell as he was guiding the offense better than Relf. Russell is the future, not Relf.

PSU also had the 4th highest total arrests of their players the last 5 years I think ESPn or SI reported that. This Sandusky scandal will hopefully cast a light ont he number of crimes (robberies and rapes) that are perpetuated by these players all for excused because of the need to win.

Ohio State extended a scholarship (he's on the team now) to a lineman arrested for fondling 15 year olds against their will under the false premise of measuring them for ROTC uniforms. It's a google search away.

by Hang50 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 1:29pm

The SI/CBS study was sensationalistic, not real journalism. It reported students charged with crimes, but was short on data concerning convictions. It did not compare the population it studied (players on ranked FBS teams) with any relevant larger group: all D-I football players, all NCAA football players, all male student athletes, or all male students.

But what really irked me about that "special investigation" is that it completely failed to raise the larger questions. Should academic institutions do background checks on admitted students? Should a criminal record be deemed cause to deny admission? Should athletes be singled out for these checks?

I'll be frank in my assessment. Mandating that, say, the University of Minnesota do pre-admission and periodic background checks on all of its 65,000 students would result in either a farce or a huge increase in tuition.

It's one thing to mandate that prospective student teachers undergo a background check before they enter a classroom. That's part of the larger legal process; in our school district, even parent volunteers have to agree to a background check. Asking the university to check history students, accounting majors, cross-country runners, or even football players -- that's nonsense.

by GlennW :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 1:42pm

All valid points. I still believe (but can't definitely prove, obviously) that the Penn State football program has allowed some things to slide with recruiting/discipline in the last 10-15 years that they weren't before. The program doesn't have to perform background checks on the entire student body for comparison purposes, and while no one can predict the future they have a pretty good handle on their recruits' past. I just think there have been too many incidents for it to be a coincidence.

by Hang50 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 2:53pm

Sure, it's reasonable for an athletic department to maintain longitudinal records about disciplinary activities. Have our athletes (in general or in a specific sport) required more disciplinary measures lately when compared to historical norms and to the general student body? A decent athletic director or university oversight body should be aware when such increases happen. It's quite possible that your intuition that things have been slipping in the football program at Penn St. is correct. We might not know, but the university should know.

That's different, however, from the SI/CBS data, since it's based on the university's code of conduct, not the general legal system. All students are already subject to university sanctions, so asking that they be applied equally to athletes is not unreasonable.

by EasyLikeSundayMorning (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 2:45pm

According to this piece from ESPN: Richeal, the co-author, never liked the title. But Jerry Sandusky insisted. He wanted the book about his life to be called "Touched." http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/7219828/no-one-seems-really-know-...

by Ezra (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 8:25pm

"What would you rather have seen, or wanted? I mean jeezus, there's really nothing that can be done or said in such a situation."

*Nothing* is what they should have done, rather than rioting like a pack of demented cult members.

by GlennW :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:08pm

Almost no one would defend the student rioters. We were specifically discussing the behavior of fans and players in their tributes and prayers at Saturday's game, relative to the opinions in the base column ("Sappy Valley").

by Ezra (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:48pm

That's nice, but doing nothing, in my view, would have included not showing up for the game. The 107,000 packing the stadium essentially represented an extension of the sentiment that drove the rioters. "We are Penn St.?" No, you're not. You're spectators at a game. The PSU you're a part of is not the same part as those with exclusive access to the high security entrances to the athletic department. The lack of proportionality crystallized in the student riots and the other ongoing cultish behavior shows exactly why Joe Paterno was made to believe that his sacred "legacy" was more important than any sense of morality or decency.

by Ezra (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:42am

Sorry - I see that the author said pretty much the same thing.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:40am

It doesn't seem to you that showing up to the game is closer to doing nothing than not showing?

by Ezra (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:33am

What I mean by "nothing" is to show no public (or financial) support for the football program, as opposed to the hollow charade of public piety that took place. Silent protest and private reflection would have been more appropriate. If the poor innocent senior "kids" on the exalted team "suffer" as a result, that's a consequence I'm willing to live with 100 times over, notwithstanding that that excuse is a lame-ass cop-out to begin with. Beat Nebraska!

by GlennW :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:49am

Maybe all of college football should be shut down based on the logic of your sermon, because there's no shortage of this "cultish" devotion to the football team at old State U throughout the NCAA. There's certainly been no shortage of self-righteousness over the matter: Penn State fostered a sick culture that allowed this to happen, the students and townspeople nurtured the icon who became a monster, and other such lessons in amateur sociology. While there's a grain of truth in that as with anything, the more basic truth is that thousands of innocent people were betrayed by a few (or several) individuals in power. But that couldn't happen *here*!-- only at a place like Penn State. Nonsense.

by Ezra (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:15pm

I am under no misapprehension that it couldn't happen anywhere, but it did happen there, and I'm offering how I would have reacted under the circumstances. I just think that "don't take our football away!" is a pretty embarrassing and selfish position to take, having nothing to do with who's innocent or not. And were I a fan of the team, I would not have regarded it as a "punishment" to have my game taken away for one week.

by GlennW :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:29pm

As I wrote before, I thought a one-week postponement to be a just and proper response as a measure of respect and reflection. But in the bigger picture, I'm hearing plenty of moralizing directed towards a broad spectrum of people who have done nothing wrong (beyond the justifiable ire leveled at an individual such as Paterno, or the student rioters and the like) that I find just as phony as the claims of "false piety" attributed to those at Penn State. After such an awful affair everyone wants to feel righteous or superior, and that's just human nature I suppose.

Here's what State College native Michael Weinreb from Grantland.com wrote on this subject after his return to the town this weekend-- that among other things, this isn't just about football, it's about the soul of the entire community. And also that he doesn't personally have the answers, and that really no one does. That's basically how I feel in declining to pass judgment on an entire school, town, or region.



"I have no idea if that is something I should be proud of, or if it is just another warning sign that we ignored, just as I have no idea if it was right or wrong to play a game on Saturday. All I know is that it felt good to make that walk. The people who think the need for football in State College is entirely about football did not grow up in a place like this, where the community happens to congregate outside a stadium to mark the time and to mourn and to express sympathies and sorrows and regrets we might not otherwise be able to put into words. I know people who have been coming to this stadium for years and have never gone inside. It is just something we do, and if it's the wrong thing, if it needs be pulled back or dropped to Division III or halted altogether for a year or two in order to achieve some measure of justice and perspective, then we will adjust. There are so many questions, and so few satisfactory answers. It feels like we are walking in place."

by AB (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 8:55am

To a non-American, it seems bizarre that SMU's football program should get the "death penalty" for recruiting violations, whereas for a full-scale cover-up (and continued enabling of) child sexual abuse, Penn State seems to be getting off scot-free.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 1:01pm

It's not that bizarre. One is related to the game and the program, and the program gets a game related punishment. The other is not and does not.

I think an analogous situation would be a corporation found to be abusing a monopoly. It would be split up or put in governments hands or something else like that that is business related. On the other hand, if a board member was found to have been a serial killer and a couple of other board members knew, then they would be individual tried and punished but no the company they happened to work for.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 10:22am

Hey Weintraub, where's your sanctimony now that Boeheim is revealed to have ignored a molester (12 years!) on his staff? Where are the calls to blow up Syracuse basketball, empty the Carrier Dome, and give back that national championship?

Or are you just a big, fat, hypocrite?

by GlennW :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 10:52am

That's overly harsh, I think. But this latest accusation just underlines the point I made about all the finger-pointing going on. Immediately following the feelings of disbelief and disgust, the next reaction for college (or any) sports fans with regard to their own programs should be: there but for the grace of God go I. I expect more such cases to come to light. Maybe a lot more.

by pawello (not verified) :: Wed, 03/27/2013 - 6:00am

His sentiment is what I agree with: the main issue at hand (a culture that enabled possibly dozens of young e-papierosy boys to be sexually abused) is much bigger than the final home game for a class of seniors in college. It's e-papierosy not fair to the players, yes, but in the words of Joe Paterno himself, that's tough.