Chicago Colleges: Joe Paterno

Mike McQueary's last stand

March, 4, 2014
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Former Penn State quarterback and later assistant coach Mike McQueary was the key whistleblower in the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal that brought down Joe Paterno and several school leaders.

McQueary will once again be an important figure in the criminal trials of Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz and in his own lawsuit against Penn State. ESPN The Magazine takes a closer look at McQueary in this gripping story.

One of the bombshells from the story is that McQueary told Penn State players in 2011 that he could relate to Sandusky's victim in the shower incident he witnessed because he, too, had been sexually abused as a child.

Don Van Natta Jr. writes that McQueary's life has been difficult since his allegations came to light. He still lives in State College at his parents' house but is unemployed and broke:
Approaching 40, McQueary fills his days hunting for distractions, scouring the web for employment -- he's failed to land several sales jobs -- and visiting his lawyer's office at a strip shopping center. On some days, he pays his respects at Joe Paterno's final resting place.

Van Natta also reports that McQueary developed a compulsive gambling problem while he was a player at Penn State and that he even bet on Nittany Lions games:
One former teammate specifically recalls that Big Red bet and lost on his own team in a November 1996 game against Michigan State at Beaver Stadium. With McQueary serving as a backup on the sideline, favorite PSU won on a late field goal 32-29 but didn't cover the eight-point spread.

As his losses mounted, McQueary owed thousands of dollars to a bookie, a debt that was eventually erased by his father, several people say. A college friend recalls urging McQueary to slow down. "It got pretty bad," the friend says, "and it just kept snowballing and snowballing. He was very impulsive."

Whether Paterno or his assistants were aware of McQueary's gambling isn't known, but several teammates and former coaches say they doubt it. By all accounts, McQueary was fooling fans across Happy Valley -- and pulling the wool over on Paterno. "I love Joe to death," says a woman who worked for years in the football office. "But in a lot of ways, he was clueless."

There have been inconsistencies in McQueary's account of what he saw in the Lasch Building showers on Feb. 9, 2001, and those statements and his memory will thoroughly be dissected in the forthcoming trials.

Freeh report indicts PSU leaders

July, 12, 2012
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and other senior officials "concealed critical facts" about Jerry Sandusky's child abuse because they were worried about bad publicity, an internal investigation into the scandal concluded.

Read the entire story.

Pat Fitzgerald statement on Joe Paterno

January, 22, 2012
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Big Ten figures continue to comment on the passing of Joe Paterno. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, a longtime admirer of Paterno, issued this statement:

"The legacy of Joe Paterno will be long lasting -- not only as a football coach and mentor, but as a family man. For 62 years, Coach Paterno poured his heart and soul into a football program and university, helping countless young men reach their dreams and goals on the football field before moving on to successful careers and lives as adults. It's hard to fathom the impact that Coach Paterno has had on college football and at Penn State. His insight and wisdom will be missed. We at Northwestern send our condolences to Sue and the Paterno family."

Weekend rewind: Big Ten

November, 21, 2011
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Saw you so much clearer, once you were in my rear-view mirror.

Team of the week: Michigan. The Wolverines flexed their muscles and blew out Nebraska 45-17 in their best performance and arguably biggest win of the season. Michigan is now the Big Ten's best hope for an at-large BCS bid. Michigan State sure liked what happened in Ann Arbor this week, too.

Game of the week: Penn State 20, Ohio State 14. Ultimately, this game had no bearing on the Big Ten title race, but try telling these two teams that. In a week without many thrillers, the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes played an old-school, physical game that featured no second-half points but plenty of hold-your-breath moments. Given the backdrop of what Penn State had been dealing with back home, it was far from meaningless.

[+] EnlargeJustin DuVernois
Bradley Leeb/US PresswireIllini punter Justin DuVernois is tackled by Wisconsin's Conor O'Neill after a game-changing fumbled snap Saturday.
Biggest play: Illinois led Wisconsin 14-0 in the second quarter when punter Justin Duvernois dropped the ball after catching the snap. The Badgers' Conor O'Neill tackled him at the 2-yard line to set up a Montee Ball touchdown run and finally give Wisconsin some momentum. Who knows how the game would have unfolded differently had the Illini taken a 17-0 lead into half instead of 17-7. And for a team that had special-teams breakdowns in losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, it was good for Wisconsin to get one back in the kicking game.

Best call: Lions turning into Wildcats. Interim coach Tom Bradley and his staff decided to use Curtis Drake and Bill Belton in the Wildcat formation against Ohio State, something Penn State hadn't shown much of all season. By the time the Buckeyes adjusted to it, Penn State had piled up 254 yards and 20 points in the first half. The defense did the rest in the second half. Question: Would the Nittany Lions have used that kind of creativity if Joe Paterno was still the head coach?

Toughest call: Robert Marve's touchdown-no-fumble near the end of the Purdue-Iowa game. The Boilers quarterback scrambled and dived for the end zone with 1:27 left in the game, losing the ball just as he hit the pylon. The officials on the field ruled it a touchdown, which would have cut the lead to 31-27 with an extra point giving Purdue a chance to get within a field goal. But after a review, the play was ruled a lost fumble in the end zone, which gave the ball to Iowa and basically ended the game.

Boilermakers coach Danny Hope brought a still picture of the play to his Sunday media briefing, saying it showed Marve's hand hitting the pylon and the ball out of bounds. Other angles and replays seemed to validate the replay officials' ruling. You can watch the video of it here at the 1:40 mark. Either way, Purdue simply made too many mistakes in the game to be whining about one call, no matter how crucial it was.

Big Men on Campus (Offense): Wisconsin's Ball and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Ball had career highs in rushes (38) and yards (224) and scored three more touchdowns, becoming just the fifth player in FBS history to reach 30 touchdowns in a season. Robinson bounced back from a couple of rough outings to account for four touchdowns and 263 total yards of offense against Nebraska. He has now won six Big Ten player of the week honors, third-most in league history.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. The sophomore made a career-high 16 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles against Illinois. His second forced fumble gave the Badgers a short field to set up their second touchdown, and he helped lead a defensive effort that shut out the Illini in the second half and forced four turnovers. A special shout out also goes to Northwestern's Brian Peters, who forced and recovered a fumble and made an interception despite wearing a cast on one arm against Minnesota.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Penn State's Anthony Fera. He made a 43-yard field goal and a 46-yarder at the end of the first half to account for the margin of victory in the Nittany Lions' 20-14 win against Ohio State. He also had three punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including one on the 3-yard line. How good has Fera been this season? This is third Big Ten weekly honor of the season.

Strangest moment: It's not often you see an offensive guard taking a handoff and running a sweep. But Michigan State's Joel Foreman did just that on Saturday in a nice gesture from Mark Dantonio.

The Spartans were up 48-3 on Indiana when Foreman lined up at tight end and came around the left side for a three-yard gain. Dantonio said he thought of the idea in practice Thursday as a way to honor Foreman, a fifth-year senior who has started 46 career games at left guard.

"That was for every big guy out there who ever wanted to run the ball," Foreman told reporters. "I'm averaging three yards a carry, broken tackle. I think that's more than [quarterback] Kirk [Cousins] has, so I'm doing all right."

It was a particularly appropriate way to end the home season for Foreman, who let cancer survivor Arthur Ray Jr. begin the game in his place in the season opener despite his consecutive starts streak. After Foreman's run, he jogged to midfield with the ball under his arm, saluted and then came out of the game. Ray was one of the first players to greet him.

"He got the game ball for that," Dantonio said of Foreman. "He took it, as a matter of fact."

NU coach reports Dan Persa's foot is OK

October, 23, 2011
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa left Saturday’s loss to Penn State in the fourth quarter after hurting his left ankle, but coach Pat Fitzgerald said he would be fine.

Fitzgerald noted that the latest Persa setback had nothing to do with the right Achilles injury which gave him issues earlier in the year.

"It had nothing to do with his Achilles," Fitzgerald said. "He injured his foot. I think he possibly could have gone back into the game, but we made a decision to take him out."

Fitz loves JoePa: With the win Saturday night, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is now tied with Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson for most victories in Division I history with 408. It's a feat that Fitzgerald went out of his way to acknowledge after the game.

"There's a reason why coach Paterno is tied with Eddie Robinson, he's the best ever," Fitzgerald said. "It was an opportunity for us that we let slip away, but first and foremost I want to give great credit to Coach Paterno. Unbelievable milestone that he was able to accomplish. I'm kind of tired that it keeps happening against us quite frankly. I want to congratulate him from our entire football program. A great role model of trust, a great role model of consistency. Not only on his part, but also on the university understanding and believing what football coaches are trying to do and that's to develop young men. And there's no better role model for that than Joe, so congratulations to him."

The last word: Fitzgerald on his team's continued struggles: "Any time you self-inflict a wound, it's tough."
Five lessons from the week that was in Big Ten action.

1. Nebraska is still breathing, while Ohio State is on life support: Both teams' seasons could have turned in the final 23 minutes at Memorial Stadium, as Nebraska scored 28 unanswered points to beat Ohio State 34-27 in the largest comeback in Huskers history. Nebraska was staring at an 0-2 start in its new conference and two weeks of intense scrutiny before the furious rally. Although the Huskers have a lot to fix, they're still very much alive in the league race. Ohio State, meanwhile, can't catch a break and fell apart after starting quarterback Braxton Miller went down with an ankle injury. For a team that already has faced so much adversity, the Buckeyes will have a tough time responding from Saturday's loss.

[+] EnlargePenn State defense
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesPenn State's defense carried the day as the Nittany Lions held the Hawkeyes to just 253 yards.
2. Defense makes Penn State a contender: A never-ending quarterback competition and Joe Paterno's game-day whereabouts have dominated the spotlight in Happy Valley, but it's about time people recognize the Nittany Lions' defense. It's really, really good, perhaps even championship-level good. Penn State smothered Iowa on Saturday, keeping the Hawkeyes' high-powered attack out of the end zone. Despite losing key personnel and getting little to no help from its own offense, Penn State's defense continues to step up. Tom Bradley's unit should keep Penn State in every game -- and makes the Lions a contender in the Leaders division.

3. Michigan is a second-half team: If the stunning Notre Dame comeback didn't convince you of the Wolverines' second-half prowess, then Saturday's win over Northwestern should. Michigan trailed 24-14 at the half but outscored the Wildcats 28-0 in the final two quarters. The defense under Greg Mattison continues to make very good adjustments throughout the course of the game. Northwestern threw the kitchen sink at Michigan offensively in the first half but was stonewalled in the second half, while the Wolverines came up with two more turnovers. The Wolverines have given up only seven points in the fourth quarter all year and are outscoring opponents 141-21 after halftime. If Michigan can continue that in the second half of the season, its 6-0 start could turn into something special.

4. Scheelhaase-to-Jenkins is Big Ten's deadliest connection: The Big Ten entered the season with several dynamic quarterbacks and receivers, but one passing combination has risen above the rest. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and wide receiver A.J. Jenkins are on fire, as they've been for much of the season. The two connected six times for 182 yards and scoring passes of 77 and 67 yards Saturday against Indiana, a week after Jenkins set a team record with 268 yards and three touchdowns on 12 catches against Northwestern. Jenkins has backed up his claim as the league's top receiver, and Scheelhaase is evolving into a complete quarterback in just his second season.

5. Minnesota is the nation's worst major-conference team: It might sound harsh, but there's not another major-conference squad struggling as much as the Gophers, who have lost their past two games by a combined score of 103-17. After Minnesota's encouraging season opener at USC, almost everything has gone downhill. We thought Minnesota had hit rock bottom in Ann Arbor after its 58-0 loss to Michigan. But the worst came in the first half against a mediocre Purdue team, as the Gophers fell behind 31-0 and committed three turnovers. Coach Jerry Kill is dealing with a lot of young players and veterans not used to winning, but his squad needs to compete better in games. The schedule doesn't get any easier, and it'll be a long year in Minneapolis.

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