Big Ten: Penn State scandal

Matt McGloin upset with fumble call

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
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Is there some sort of conspiracy against Penn State involving Big Ten officials?

You'd probably have to be wearing aluminum foil on your head right now to actually believe in such a thing. But the Nittany Lions have felt they've been on the wrong side of too many calls this season, and a key fumble ruling in Saturday's 32-23 loss at Nebraska only added to the frustration, especially for senior quarterback Matt McGloin.

We're not going to get that call here. We're not going to get that call ever, actually, against any team. It doesn't matter who the refs are. That's the way it is.

-- Penn State QB Matt McGloin
To reset: Penn State was driving in for a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter when McGloin hit tight end Matt Lehman for a short pass from the Nebraska 3. Lehman was hit and fumbled the ball into the end zone, where the Huskers recovered for a touchback. However, replays appeared to show that Lehman broke the plane with the ball before it got knocked loose. Penn State definitely thought it was a touchdown, but the call was upheld after an official review.

After the game, referee John O’Neill issued this statement: “The ruling on the field was a fumble short of the goal line. It went to replay and the replay official said the play stood based on the views he had. It’s ultimately his decision.”

McGloin could barely contain his frustration in a postgame interview, which you can watch here in a video taped by Audrey Snyder.

"We're not going to get that call here," McGloin told reporters. "We're not going to get that call ever, actually, against any team. It doesn't matter who the refs are. That's the way it is."

When asked why he said that, McGloin responded, "Why do you think? That's the way it is, man. Write what you think."

McGloin later said that the team had an us-against-the-world mentality and knew that it was "not going to get any help whatsoever" from the officials. He also tweeted out a slow-motion video of the play.

The clear implication here is that McGloin believes Penn State is still being punished for the Jerry Sandusky scandal and NCAA probation. Head coach Bill O'Brien was asked if he thought there was some kind of conspiracy to make Penn State lose.

"We don't feel like anyone is out to get us," O'Brien said.

You can't blame McGloin for being upset with losing such a tough game on the road, and maybe it was just the heat of the moment getting to him. But there is a genuine feeling among some Penn State fans that the team has not gotten its share of breaks this season.

Cornerback Stephon Morris had a more levelheaded response when asked about the controversial call.

"The referees did the best they could, but we put ourselves in that situation," he said. "We could have gotten some more third-down stops, we could have stopped [Nebraska quarterback Taylor] Martinez and we could have stopped the run. You can't leave the game in the referees' hands. We know that. They're not perfect. Nobody's perfect. That's just on us."

Video: Friday Four Downs

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
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Brian Bennett examines four pressing issues as the Big Ten heads into Week 10.

Mike McQueary sues Penn State

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
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video

Former Penn State football assistant coach Mike McQueary has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the university, seeking millions of dollars in damages for what he believes is defamation and misrepresentation.

McQueary, who saw former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky in the shower with a young boy in 2001 and reported it to former head coach Joe Paterno, claims that statements made by former Penn State president Graham Spanier after the scandal broke in November harmed his reputation. The lawsuit states Spanier told athletic staff after the scandal broke that he supported athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, who had been charged with perjury and failing to report child abuse.

From the Associated Press:
"Spanier's statements have irreparably harmed (McQueary's) reputation for honesty and integrity, and have irreparably harmed (his) ability to earn a living, especially in his chosen profession of coaching football," the lawsuit said.

Messages left for Spanier and his lawyer on Tuesday were not immediately returned.

The lawsuit said McQueary learned his contract was not being renewed, meaning he was no longer a university employee, from a news conference held in July by the university's new president, Rodney Erickson. He said his salary last year was $140,000 and his future earnings as a coach would amount to at least $4 million.

McQueary's lawsuit hardly comes as a surprise, as his career options in football seemingly have been limited or completely eliminated by the scandal. The former Penn State quarterback and wide receivers coach testified in Sandusky's child sex abuse trial in June.

Task force set up for Penn State fines

September, 18, 2012
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One of the key questions lingering from the NCAA sanctions against Penn State was how the $60 million fine levied against the school would be used.

The NCAA announced on Tuesday that it has set up a 10-member task force to determine the guidelines for applying that $60 million toward child sexual abuse prevention and victim treatment programs. That task force will also appoint an independent third-party administrator to choose which groups get funding.

Under the sanctions, Penn State must pay $12 million annually over a five-year period. The NCAA said Tuesday that at least 25 percent of those annual payments will go toward organizations in Pennsylvania, and that those programs will receive the first round of funding. Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has said all of the money should stay in the state.

No Penn State-run programs are eligible to use the money, but the school will have some say in where the fines go. That's because Penn State was allowed to appoint two of the 10 members on the task force. They are Dr. Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs in the college of medicine, and Nan C. Crouter, dean of the college of health and human development.

University of California-Riverside chancellor Tim White will serve as chairman of the task force.

Paying out $60 million is a painful sanction for Penn State. But if anything good can come from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it could be that this money funds programs that prevent or comfort child abuse victims.

Van Natta: Inside the Penn State sanctions

August, 3, 2012
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When Gene Marsh got the call on the morning of July 17, he was holed up in a one-room cabin -- with no running water and no toilets -- in woodsy Chebeague Island off of Maine. "A shack fit for the Unabomber," says Marsh, a 60-year-old tart-tongued Tuscaloosa, Ala., lawyer. Only six days earlier, he had been hired by Penn State to help negotiate sanctions from the NCAA in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. On the phone was Donald Remy, the NCAA's general counsel. The news was grim. Remy said Penn State was facing an unprecedented punishment: a multiple-season death penalty, no football for years.

"Are you overselling this?" Marsh asked.

"Absolutely not," Remy said.

As he sat in his cabin, "I just imagined an empty stadium," says Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee who has since defended many schools and coaches before it, including former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. "I thought about the wind blowing through the portals and all the economic and social and spiritual ramifications of that empty stadium. And this would last … years?"

Video: Adopted son accuses Sandusky

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
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Jerry Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, says he is a victim of Jerry's sexual abuse.

Video: Jerry Sandusky trial update

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
7:32
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ABC News Radio's Aaron Katersky discusses the latest from the Jerry Sandusky trial, including the possibility of Sandusky taking the stand next week.

Links: Penn State moving forward

May, 1, 2012
5/01/12
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Ivan Maisel: Bill O'Brien, a longtime Patriots assistant, is getting used to college players again. He's also trying to strike a balance between respecting the past and moving forward at Penn State. | Video

Adam Rittenberg: Penn State has experienced unparalleled turmoil in the last five months, starting with the scandal that rocked State College through its first spring without Joe Paterno. But the players have shown a resiliency that should benefit them come fall.

Dana O'Neil: Penn State basketball has always needed football. Men's hoops coach Patrick Chambers knows this. What's different now? Football, with new Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien at the helm, needs basketball, field hockey and just about everything else more than ever.

Big Ten Thursday mailbag

April, 5, 2012
4/05/12
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Time to take a break from Day 2 of my Hoosier State adventure and answer some of your emails:

Brian from Atlanta writes: Why are you two always so wrong about every issue surrounding a playoff? Every system has problems, and the four team plus is no worse than the others in that regard. A 4 team playoff has lots of problems (EX. If a 1 loss team beats an undefeated team in the semis -- why does that loss count more?), and it hurts the Rose Bowl. You playoff proponents put blind faith in the system to accurately pick the top 4 teams and seed them, but somehow think that same system would fail after the bowls. That makes no sense. Either the system works all the time or none of the time.

Brian Bennett: Well, Brian (great name by the way), I can give you a very simple answer as to why the proposed plan to include the Rose Bowl in a playoff is dumb: It's being called, as you mentioned, a "four-team plus." How ridiculously convoluted does that sound? And that's the very point: We've finally gotten to a place where the powers that be are very open to the excellent idea of a four-team playoff and now there's an option that would muck up the whole thing.

No playoff system is perfect; there are those who would argue that the NCAA basketball tournament doesn't always crown the best team because of its single-elimination format (though the bracket did a pretty darn good coronation job this year). But a four-team, seeded football playoff where the best teams qualify is as good as we're going to get. Let's not ruin it before it begins.




Scott from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Brian, I think the talk about the Pac-12/Big Ten partnership making it harder for either of the conferences to reach the title game is unjustified. I think it would make it more likely that a team from one of those conferences would go. You need to run a stronger schedule to convince people to get into the championship game, and these match-ups would only make it more likely that the most dominant teams in both conferences could make it to the BCS title game. Am I right or are people seeming something I am not? Also, I am so stoked for the MSU/Oregon series!

Brian Bennett: What the Pac-12/Big Ten series does is potentially make it harder to go undefeated. And going undefeated is the surest way to get into a four-team playoff, because there's no way a team from either league that goes 13-0 would be left out. Adding another difficult game only increases the chances for a loss. Though it does add to a team's strength-of-schedule argument, that would really only come into play if a one-loss Big Ten or Pac-12 team was trying to lobby its way in against other one-loss or non-power-league teams.




Brian from Newmarket, United Kingdom, writes: I was curious on your thoughts regarding Don Van Natta Jr's article on Penn State? Do you feel differently about JoePa's firing? Seems like Joe may not have been as guilty as everyone says and there was some other shady things going on.

Brian Bennett: Cheers, Brian (great names in the 'bag today!). The story was a fascinating look at all the political and behind-the-scenes power struggles going on in the context of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. But it doesn't really change my opinion of whether Joe Paterno needed to be let go. I've said all along that virtually no one in this entire saga -- not Paterno, not Penn State administrators and trustees, not the governor, not the original investigators -- comes off looking good in this whole mess. I still believe Paterno should have done more and that he could not have been allowed to coach another game under the circumstances, though the way his dismissal was hired by the trustees was also handled very poorly.




Ben from Connecticut writes: OK, I give. Every article involving Jim Delany always -- always! -- refers to him as some flavor of "powerful." Just what makes him so powerful? Is it simply the title of Big Ten commish or something more? Chutzpah? Dirty pics of Mike Slive? I'd love to know how, if the rest of the world wanted to do something, he'd be able to stop it.

Brian Bennett: He has pictures of Slive eating Chick-fil-A on a Sunday. Actually, Chris, in some respects anyone who is the commissioner of the Big Ten (or the SEC) is going to wield enormous influence simply because of the league he represents. The Big Ten might not be winning national titles in football right now, but it still has a tremendous financial impact on the sport. That said, some milquetoast commissioner wouldn't have the same respect as Delany has. He's been extremely successful and is always going to be one of the brightest guys in any room. The rest of the power brokers need him and the Big Ten to make this playoff system happen.




Grant from Detroit writes: Thanks for your interview piece with Pat Narduzzi. From your experience with the B1G D-Coordinators, is there a better one in the B1G? And I don't mean that I want you to point out DC's whose teams are successful. I am asking if there is another DC in the conference who has done more with such unheralded recruiting classes. I don't think it takes a great coach to maintain the play of great recruits. I think a great coach sees the talent where others don't and grows that talent into true greatness.

Brian Bennett: I've been impressed with his work since I covered Cincinnati over on the Big East blog, and many of the players that he coached played major roles in getting the Bearcats to BCS games under Brian Kelly. Narduzzi is very bright, a great motivator and one of the best in the business. You also can't discount the impact of Mark Dantonio, who's a defensive-minded coach (and a former brilliant defensive coordinator himself). I think it's the combination of those two guys and their working relationship that has made the Spartans' defense so good.




Cam from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Love the blog and all, but in your Week 9 road trip post, you said that Michigan State-Wisconsin has become the most exciting new rivalry in the B1G. With all due respect, I wholeheartedly disagree. I would say Ohio State-Wisconsin has become a MUCH more intriguing rivalry in recent years. Ohio State's only loss of the regular season coming in Camp Randall in 2010, followed up by a last-minute upset of the Badgers in the Shoe in 2011, and some poisonous feelings that definitely are felt in other sports too (see: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin basketball final seconds; timeouts BETWEEN last second freethrows? Cold.). Now that both of these teams are possible "elites" again, what do you think about their budding rivalry and its effects on the B1G as a whole?

Brian Bennett: I love college hoops as much as anybody, but I don't think you can include that in this discussion. Michigan State-Wisconsin gets the nod for me because they played two thrilling, monumental games last year; because the Spartans ruined Wisconsin's shot at a perfect season in 2010; and because the two teams staged very close games in the previous three years. Other than last year's barnburner in Columbus, the Wisconsin-Ohio State series hasn't been nearly as close, as four of the previous five games were decided by double digits. So Spartans-Badgers is more exciting, though this year's Ohio State-Wisconsin game could easily ratchet things way up.




A.J. from Madison, Wis., writes: If the Badgers had their 2012 schedule in 2011, would they have gone undefeated in the regular season? They would have gotten OSU and MSU, their two losses, at home but had to play Nebraska and Penn State on the road.

Brian Bennett: Really interesting question. Wisconsin absolutely pounded Nebraska and Penn State at home, so logically you could assume the Badgers would have won those games on the road, too. And Camp Randall would likely have provided enough of an advantage to change the outcomes against Michigan State and Ohio State. But here's why I say no: Wisconsin is simply so, so much better at home that the odds are the Badgers would have slipped up somewhere on the road, where they undid themselves with special-teams disasters and mental breakdowns in the two regular-season losses last season.




Brian from Warrensburg, Mo., writes: Can you please explain why you guys think Michigan St will finish atop Nebraska this season? Unless their schedule is considerably easier, I feel like they lost too much star power last year to compete head to head with a Nebraska team that only lost a couple good players and beat them very soundly last year.

Brian Bennett: Another Brian! This must be some kind of a record. I put very little stock in last year's Nebraska-Michigan State game when trying to forecast this season. While the Huskers deserve all the credit for playing a great game, I firmly believe the Spartans were emotionally spent from playing and beating Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan in three successive weeks before going to Lincoln. And didn't Nebraska lose almost as much star power as Michigan State, with Alfonzo Dennard, Lavonte David and Jared Crick? I know that Michigan State's defense is going to be great; I don't know how good Nebraska's defense is going to be or if the Huskers' offense can become more consistent in league play.

With all that said, it's not even tax day yet, so these early predictions don't mean a whole lot. I will form better opinions after spring practice. Adam has seen Nebraska up close, and I will be checking out the Spartans soon. Can't wait to compare notes.




Nate from Easley, SC, writes: I really like the idea of a spring scrimmage but, other than injuries, I have one major concern. The current system is slanted toward benefiting those with a good pre-season ranking, so, if voters took the results of a glorified scrimmage into account, wouldn't it further skew the pre-season rankings? (Granted, voters' pre-season ranking are already perception-based and not entirely accurate.) Said another way, do you think a scrimmage "Win" would take on more value than player development? Would two highly perceived teams want to to scrimmage if it hurt their stock going into the season?

Brian Bennett: That's an angle I hadn't considered. On one hand, maybe it's not so bad if voters took spring scrimmages into account, because preseason polls are mostly based now on what a team did last year and what it brings back, never having seen one spring or summer workout. If a voter actually paid attention to a spring scrimmage and how a team looked in an exhibition like that, that's probably at least as accurate as the way most voting is done now. I don't think preseason rankings are as big of a deal in a four-team playoff anyway, because the cream should rise to the top in most years.


Fight on State: From campus to the capital

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
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STATE COLLEGE, PA. -- In the lobby of the Penn Stater hotel, they stood vigil -- reporters, cameramen, students, alumni, residents and a few tipsy hotel bar patrons. It was Nov. 9, 2011, shortly before 9 p.m., and the throng awaited the decision of the Pennsylvania State University board of trustees. Behind the closed doors of Room 206, the 32 men and women charged with navigating the worst crisis in Penn State's 156-year history were on the verge of a painstaking but seemingly unavoidable verdict.

Near the back of a conference room littered with coffee cups and plates of half-eaten fudge brownies and chocolate-chip cookies, a 79-year-old trustee and philanthropist named Mimi Coppersmith stood up and beseeched her colleagues to reconsider what they were poised to do. "Coach Paterno is revered here in State College," she said.

"We're not going to drink the Kool-Aid," snapped John P. Surma, then the board's vice chairman and the chief executive officer of United States Steel Corp. "This is what we need to do."

Read more on this story from Dan Van Natta Jr.

On Saturday, The Washington Post published Joe Paterno's first interview since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in November. Those who were hoping for solid answers on how Penn State could have harbored an alleged child sex-abuser under Paterno's watch probably came away disappointed.

In the interview with Sally Jenkins, Paterno sounded many of the same themes we have heard from his issued public statements and from his sons: that he reported what he knew about Sandusky to his superiors and that he was unaware of his longtime assistant's alleged abuse until Mike McQueary brought forth an allegation about Sandusky in the shower with a boy in 2002.

The story paints Paterno as being in much worse physical condition than when we last saw him in public, the day before his firing Nov. 9. Since then, it has been revealed that the winningest coach in Division I history is dealing with lung cancer. Jenkins writes that Paterno is using a wheelchair, is wearing a wig because of chemotherapy treatments and labors to speak. He has experienced fogginess from the chemo and has had trouble eating. Paterno finished the interview Friday and was admitted to the hospital later that day for further observation.

Paterno seems aware that time might be running out for him, but he hopes he has enough time left to restore his tarnished legacy.

The story, while lacking many bombshells, adds to our understanding of how Paterno says he handled the allegations McQueary brought to him.
"He was very upset and I said why, and he was very reluctant to get into it,” Paterno said. “He told me what he saw, and I said, what? He said it, well, looked like inappropriate, or fondling, I’m not quite sure exactly how he put it. I said you did what you had to do. It’s my job now to figure out what we want to do. So I sat around. It was a Saturday. Waited till Sunday because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. And then I called my superiors and I said, ‘Hey, we got a problem, I think. Would you guys look into it?’ Cause I didn’t know, you know. We never had, until that point, 58 years I think, I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn’t feel adequate.”

Many have wondered why Paterno, the most powerful figure in the Penn State community, didn't personally do more instead of merely reporting the accusation up the chain of command.
"I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way. ...

"I didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “And rather than get in there and make a mistake ...”
[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno
John McDonnell/The Washington PostFormer Penn State coach Joe Paterno was interviewed Thursday and Friday by The Washington Post at his home in State College, Pa.
Paterno also portrayed himself as being too much from the old world to really understand what McQueary was telling him. McQueary, the former Penn State assistant coach, testified to the grand jury that he witnessed what he believed to be a sexual encounter between Sandusky and what appeared to be a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower at the school's football complex. McQueary has said he was reluctant to get into too many details with the then-78-year-old Paterno but that he later described in more detail what he saw to school administrators.
“You know, he didn’t want to get specific,” Paterno said. “And to be frank with you I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best."

To me, that defense rings false. There's no question Paterno is from a different generation, one in which certain types of sexual behavior were often not spoken about. But no matter what age you are, you should be able to quickly ascertain that any sexual activity between a man and a child is both wrong and illegal. There aren't many ways to go when it comes to that, except to do everything in your power to stop it.

How many opportunities did Paterno have to stop Sandusky? Although Sandusky worked alongside Paterno for more than 30 years, Paterno said in the interview that he never suspected Sandusky of any deviant behavior. As for Sandusky's oddly timed retirement in 1999, Paterno said he thought it was because he had told Sandusky that he would never succeed him as Penn State head coach. Paterno said he was frustrated with how much time Sandusky was spending at his children's charity, The Second Mile, rather than coaching and recruiting. Prosecutors have alleged Sandusky used The Second Mile to recruit his victims.

Paterno said he was not close to Sandusky and could not recall the last time he had seen or spoken to him. Sandusky had been investigated by local police in 1998, but Paterno said he was unaware of that.
“You know it wasn’t like it was something everybody in the building knew about,” Paterno said. “Nobody knew about it.”

That, too, seems hard to believe. In a best-case scenario, Paterno's insistence that he was unaware of what was going on in his own football building confirms what many had long suspected: that the now-85-year-old was far too out of touch and ineffective to be running a major college football program. In the worst case, it shows negligence or willful ignorance.

To Paterno's credit, he doesn't point fingers at others for what happened in the Sandusky case. His wife, Sue, is upset at how Paterno was fired by the school's Board of Trustees. The Paternos say a school administrator showed up at their door at 10 p.m. Nov. 9 with trustee vice chairman John Surma's phone number written on a slip of paper; when Paterno called it, he quickly was told he'd been fired.

But in the interview, Paterno expressed little anger at the way the university has treated him.
“You know, I’m not as concerned about me,” he said. “What’s happened to me has been great. I got five great kids. Seventeen great grandchildren. I’ve had a wonderful experience here at Penn State. I don’t want to walk away from this thing bitter. I want to be helpful.”

So why has Paterno, who has not been accused of any legal wrongdoing, waited so long to speak out?
"I wanted everybody to settle down," he said.

This interview likely won't settle the debate between those who say Paterno was martyred in this scandal and those who think Paterno bears a large share of responsibility. You can believe Paterno did what was legally required and was too old to understand the ramifications of the McQueary allegations. Or you can believe Paterno simply didn't want to know more about what was happening.

In the end, we all want to know how something this ugly could have occurred at Penn State or anywhere. After Paterno's first interview -- and given his health, who knows how much more we'll hear from him -- we're still left wondering.

Joe Paterno was fired exactly two months ago today. And who will replace Paterno as head coach at Penn State?

We still don't know.

Today also begins a short open window where coaches can contact recruits. They can do so until Saturday. Interim coach Tom Bradley is going out to meet recruits this week even though he has no idea whether he'll be retained by the school. Bradley is in a very difficult position in trying to sell prospects on Penn State. High school players want to know who their head coach will be, and Bradley can't give them that answer.

Some Nittany Lions fans and boosters still held out hope that Boise State's Chris Petersen would change his mind and come to State College. Petersesn just got a raise and a new deal with the Broncos.

StateCollege.com reports that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano may be a candidate. Schiano, a former Penn State assistant, had long been mentioned as a potential Paterno successor down the road, but his stock had cooled as the Scarlet Knights struggled to repeat their success from a breakthrough 2006 season. Rutgers did win the New Era Pinstripe Bowl this year. He has run a clean program that has excelled at graduating players, and Penn State could do a whole lot worse at this point.

Otherwise, most of the chatter has been about NFL assistants, like New England's Bill O'Brien, San Francisco's Greg Roman and Green Bay's Tom Clements. All of those teams are in the playoffs, so perhaps that is the delay on further word with them.

As the New York Times reported earlier this week, interim athletic director Dave Joyner and trustee Ira M. Lubert appear to doing most of the work on the search alone, and neither has any experience hiring a coach. Penn State fans' hopes are dwindling for a big name coming out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, we wait and wait. It's been two full months since the board of trustees dumped Paterno with a phone call. When will they finally call upon a successor?

Video: Bradley on Penn State, Paterno

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
1:45
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Tom Bradley talks about the relationship between Penn State football team and Joe Paterno, keeping the players focused, the status of QB Matt McGloin and the biggest challenge with recruiting at Penn State.

Video: Mike McQueary testifies

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
10:42
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ESPN's Jeremy Schaap discusses Mike McQueary's testimony in a preliminary hearing.

Video: Who is Jerry Sandusky?

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
4:30
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Jeremy Schaap profiles former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

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