Tom Bradley in as interim Penn State football coach after Joe Paterno firing

November 11, 2011

Tom Bradley held a news conference on Thursday to discuss his promotion to interim head coach, which came after long-serving Joe Paterno was fired in the fallout from the Sandusky sexual abuse scandal which has rocked Penn State and the college football world. As Cindy Boren reported, he faced tough questions about the fate of other coaching staff who were allegedly witnesses to abuse:

A central figure in the scandal enveloping Penn State and its football program, is expected to do his usual job as coach of the team’s wide receivers Saturday, interim coach Tom Bradley said today.

“Right now, Mike McQueary will be coaching Saturday,” Bradley said in his first press conference since being elevated from defensive coordinator to replace Joe Paterno, who was fired Wednesday night. “It will be a game-time decision where he is.”

The plan Saturday, when the Nittany Lions play Nebraska in their final home game of the season, is for McQueary to work — either on the sideline or in the coaches’ booth.

When he was a graduate assistant, McQueary allegedly saw former coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in a locker-room shower in 2002 and testified before a grand jury on the matter. He has has not commented publicly on the school 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.”

So, for now, it’s coaching — if nothing else — as usual.

Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, the then-President of Penn State were ousted in a press conference on Wednesday night, even after Paterno released a statement saying he would resign at the end of the season. As Dave Sheinin explained:

Joe Paterno’s head coaching career at Penn State began on Sept. 17, 1966 with a win over Maryland, and it ended Wednesday night, at the end of an extraordinary day, in the middle of an emotionally wrenching week, with a telephone call from the heads of the school’s Board of Trustees.

They informed Paterno, the iconic face of this storied football program, that he was being dismissed three games shy of the end of his 46th season.

John P. Surma, the vice chairman of the board, delivered the news before a packed news conference at a hotel on the outskirts of town just after 10 p.m., with an audible gasp and several shrieks going up from the mixture of local and national media members and curious onlookers.

“Joe Paterno,” Surma said, “is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately.”

With that, the child sex-abuse scandal surrounding a longtime Paterno lieutenant reached its emotional peak on this badly shaken campus of 40,000 undergraduates, in a village known as Happy Valley.

“Right now, I'm not the football coach,” Paterno said in a brief statement released after the board’s decision, “and that's something I have to get used to.”

The board also voted to oust university president Graham B. Spanier, bringing to four the number of administrators, including Paterno, who have lost their jobs over the burgeoning scandal — in which Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s longtime defensive coordinator, was arrested on charges of molesting at least eight boys between 1994 and 2009.

But it was the dismissal of the 84-year-old Paterno, who earlier in the day had announced his intention to resign at the end of this season, that threatened to bring the campus to a boiling point.

With three games left in the season, where does Penn State football, and the university as a whole go from here? As Cindy Boren wrote:

What happens now for Penn State, after the Board of Trustees fired legendary coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal?

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 revered coach, the winningest coach in major-college football history, was breathtakingly swift, outpacing even Tiger Woods. It came Wednesday night in a phone cal 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.

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.”

More from The Washington Post

Tom Bradley news conference live blog

Column: It didn’t have to end this way

On campus, the day after

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