From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
An adult finally arrives at Penn State
Finally, amid the heartbreak and the scandal, someone at Penn State did the right thing.
Nine and a half years since the 2002 weekend when four Penn State men could have acted like an adult and done something to stop a monster, Penn State board of trustees vice chairman John Surma announced the only thing left to do.
Penn State football Joe Paterno was fired Wednesday night.
Paterno won more games than any other college football coach, but his loss for words or gumption or guts or some would say decency after a 2002 incident will forever tarnish his reputation. His silence was louder than the millions of cheers and thrills he and his team brought to a little known college that became a powerhouse under Jo Pa's stewardship. His indifference to evil - and that's what this is gang - will forever be linked with the countless good things he did in his 62-years as an assistant and head coach at Penn State.
Everyone knows the trail of tragic events - Jerry Sandusky, longtime Penn State assistant has been accused of more than 40 acts of sexual abuse against eight victims who were boys at the time; Paterno was informed by current Penn State assistant Mike McQueary of Sandusky performing a horrific act against a 10-year-old; Paterno tells PSU AD Tim Curley and PSU vice president Gary Schultz, who ran the PSU police department among his many duties, and the entire group then preceded to do almost nothing else; Sandusky continues to prey on young boys to the point that this week a court order prevents him from being alone with his own grandchildren. Now it finally seems the gravity and seriousness of these events have hit home at Happy Valley, despite the rallies of support for Paterno and the relative ambivalence for the victims.
Paterno was fired Wednesday along with Penn State president Graham Spanier, who said last weekend that he supported Curley and Schult "unconditionally" despite their silence and the perjury charges that were issued against them by the grand jury that indicted Sandusky.
This was the only decision to be made, even if it was made three days too late. After all that happened, Paterno tried one more strong-armed power play, announcing Wednesday morning that he would finally retire at season's end. Wisely, the PSU board realized that after all that's happened that Paterno did not deserve to exit on his terms. He did not deserve a river of standing ovations in Saturday's home finale. He did not deserve to be carried off the field after a win .
He deserved to be fired. At the very least
But 'deserve' got nothing to do with a mess this sordid because none of the victims deserved what happened and any of the boys that suffered any of the heinous acts since 2002, deserve an answer from Paterno about why he chose to protect the image of his program than children.
Fab 4 (plus 1)
The tragedy that has unfolded at Penn State overshadows any- and everything that could happen in Saturday's senior day game against Nebraska. The emotions - the tension, the raw pain and anger - will combine to create a swirling unknown that seems somehow fitting, considering this will be the first college football game since 1949 that Joe Paterno was not on staff. It will be the first game since 1965 that Joe Pa is not the head coach (although since he now coaches from a sky box without a head set, it's pretty certain he has not "coached" for some time).
As for the Penn State-Nebraska game, trying to gauge the daily outside effects on college football players ages 18-23 is not unlike trying to catch a falling leaf; trying to guess how the PSU players will react is more Miyagi-ish, and it's like trying to catch a fly with chop sticks.
The Nittany Lions could come out and play like warrior poets, an inspired effort for their former coach and his tarnished legend. They could be flatter than 2005 Ginger Ale and get steam-rolled in the magnitude of a moment that certainly reminds us that there's more to life (like doing the right thing and protecting our children) than football. Either one could happen.
On to our picks...
Arkansas minus-14 against Tennessee: Let's weigh what we know: Arkansas can throw and score points; UT has a tough time rushing the passer and has struggled to score in SEC games. Arkansas is not as good as Alabama or LSU (who is?), but something feels like the Razorbacks are going to beat the Vols by more than the 31 points that the Tide and the Tigers did.
Stanford minus-3 against Oregon: The Cardinal are 14-0-1 against the spread in their last 15 games. Keep riding them until the Tree falls. (Buy the half of course, though.)
Texas minus-1 at Missouri: The Longhorns are 6-2 - the losses are to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Plus, this is a noon kickoff which helps temper the home-field advantage.
Over the 49.5 in tonight's Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game: Two big-play running games and considering the Hokies are 1-7 against the spread this year but have an 11-game road win streak there's no way to know what will happen on the straight play.
Southern Miss minus-8 against Central Florida: The Goldern Eagles have covered seven straight and are an inexplicable loss against Marshall in week 2 from being unbeaten.
What's going on?
The Paterno mess is awful and there's no defending it. You know this. As it appears that calmer heads have prevailed and maybe a return to normalcy on the sports landscape, there comes word that Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in his native Venezuela.
Masked gunmen took Ramos away from his home in an SUV on Wednesday.
Sweet buckets of social downfall, what's happening?
Reading more into the AP story, this is first time a MLB player has been kidnapped in Venezuela, but it's hardly an isolated incident in the country. Three former or current major leaguers have had family members abducted in recent years in hopes for large ransoms.
All this nastiness makes you long for a good-old-fashioned recruiting scandal so we can wringing our hands and wave our arms about the injustice of Bruce Pearl lying about a bar-b-que or Jim Tressel lying about tattoos.
This and that
- At the Australian Open, Tiger Woods shot a first-round 68 Thursday. That was overshadowed by John Daly being John Daly and quitting midway through his first round. Daly was 7 over after 10 holes before hitting every ball in his bag into a water hazard on No. 11. He would have been hitting his 16th shot had he continued. The tournament organizer called Daly "unprofessional," but the tournament gave Daly a sponsor's exemption because the fans want to see what Daly will do next and sometimes that next act is hitting a couple of sleeves of Titleists into a water hazard. Don't invite the clown to the party and then bemoan the clown for acting like a clown. G' day.
- The baseball free agent market is starting to heat up and apparently the Florida Marlins are courting Jose Reyes. The Marlins would move Hanley Ramirez to third and have the best left side of the infield in baseball. Yes, Reyes leaving the Mets would help the Braves, Reyes going to the Marlins would not help the Braves.
- The NBA talks have turned nasty, and the longer they drag the more nasty they will become. In fact, here's saying that within 10 days, there will be some division within the union if for no other reason than there about to be some tall and athletic fellows who are used to living high on the hog needing a paycheck.
All week has been so serious and so dark, we're going old school, and to borrow a term from the Jonquil Rink in Smyrna, this is a "Free Skate."
So everyone grab your Red Devils and take a spin around the rink.
Say whatever you want to get it off your chest. No boundaries. And two programming notes: Remember there's some room in Friday's mailbag and we'll be making our regular 2 p.m. appearance on "The Show" with Chris Goforth on 1370 AM today.