For the first time in 46 seasons Paterno, 84, will not be involved with the Nittany Lions on Saturday, when they play their final home game of the season against Nebraska. The downfall of the reverered coach, the winningest coach in major-college football history, was breathtakingly swift, outpacing even Tiger Woods. It came Wednesday night in a phone call by two trustees.
Tom Bradley will coach the team for now, the trustees announced. Bradley is the defensive coordinator. And there’s some irony in this choice. Sandusky, after all, was the heir apparent to Paterno until he retired in 1999, around the time when allegations of sexual abuse began.
Bradley, is a 55-year-old Penn State lifer who has been on the staff since 1979 and has three regular-season games (with a possible Big Ten title game and bowl game) in which to nail down the job. Already, though, other names have been mentioned, including Urban Meyer, the former Florida coach, and Miami Coach Al Golden.
Whether Mike McQueary, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, will be on the sidelines Saturday has not been determined. McQueary is at the heart of the most horrifying incident, the one that occurred in the showers at Penn State in 2002. According to the grand jury report, he witnessed an alleged sexual assault on a minor boy by Sandusky and told his father, then told Paterno about it. He is one of only two witnesses; the other is a janitor who now is suffering from dementia.
McQueary, 28, has not spoken publicly about the scandal. “It’s not that he’s not willing,” his father, John J. McQueary, told the New York Times. “I think it’s eating him up not to be able to tell his side, but he’s under investigation by the grand jury. He’ll make it. He’s a tough kid.” (Read the grand jury report, which contains graphic details, here.)
The firing of Paterno by the board portends a power shift at the school, where the president was the second-most powerful person. Rodney Erickson, Penn State’s executive vice-president and provost, will be the acting president and will deal with the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation into the school’s handling of the case. First, though, the campus must clean up from the rioting that occurred after Paterno was fired.
Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, Penn State administrators who stepped down Monday, prepare for their day in court on charges of perjury and failure to report a crime.
Jerry Sandusky will appear in court Dec. 7. He faces 40 counts of sex crimes. He is free on $100,000 unsecured bail.
The victims and their families continue to live their lives, as their harrowing stories only begin to emerge. The sister of one victim described the difficulty of going to class at Penn State. Although students are wearing blue students wear blue “Stop Child Abuse” ribbons and planning a “blue-out” at Saturday’s game, there are also jokes about being “Sanduskied.”
“I can’t escape it,” the student, whose brother was allegedly molested in a shower when he was 11, told Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News. “I’ve been going to minimal classes, because every class I go to I get sick to my stomach. People are making jokes about it. I understand they don’t know I’m involved and it was my brother, but it’s still really hard to swallow that.”
Meanwhile, everyone waits for more details to emerge. This story isn’t over yet.
More coverage of the Penn State scandal from The Washington Post:
Video: Trustees announce firing
Thomas Boswell: A sad end for Paterno
Jason Reid: Board did the right thing
Sally Jenkins: Blame for the scandal does not lie with Joe Paterno
John Feinstein: Scandal threatens one of sports’ greatest legacies
Tracee Hamilton: Joe Paterno ignored his moral responsibility
Early Lead: Penn State students rally to support Joe Paterno
Mike Wise: Penn State is close to beyond redemption
Early Lead: Scandal may affect incoming football recruits