Before Penn State became enveloped in one of the biggest scandals to ever hit college sports this week, Virginia Tech athletic department officials would always point to the Nittany Lions as a school it tried to emulate. Athletic Director Jim Weaver has gone on the record for years saying that his desire for continuity in the coaching ranks is a model born from his days at Penn State, when he served as an assistant coach under Joe Paterno.
Coach Frank Beamer, meanwhile, sits a distant second to Paterno on college football’s active wins list with 248 victories. Paterno has 409 wins. And last year, Beamer was awarded the first-ever Joe Paterno Award after the Hokies rebounded from losing their first two games to reel off 11 straight victories.
So Tuesday during his weekly news conference, Beamer was asked to weigh in on the child molestation charges being levied at longtime Paterno assistant, Jerry Sandusky. His message was that while it’s certainly an ugly situation, he is withholding any premature judgment until all the facts are known.
“I don’t know Sandusky well, but every time I’ve met him and talked with him, I was always impressed with him,” Beamer said. “What he’s been accused of is just unbelievable. I mean it’s a shocker. And after that, I don’t know exactly what was said to whom and without that I don’t think you can pass judgment. I think exactly what people knew and when he knew it, that’s the issue. I wouldn’t pass judgment there.
“I do know Joe Paterno very well and consider him a great friend and great for college football. I really think a lot of him. The award that probably means the most to me is the one I got last year, and it was the Joe Paterno Award. It was not only for winning football games, but for academics and how you ran your program. From my knowledge, Joe ran a great program.”
Beamer was later asked if he were in Paterno’s shoes would he resign, as a New York Times report suggested may happen in the days and weeks ahead. Beamer again shied away from saying anything definitive.
“I’m not gonna pass judgment,” he said. “I don’t know all the details. Until you know the exact details, exactly what was said, I don’t feel comfortable passing judgment.”