NCF Nation: Jerry Sandusky

A name and a number are grabbing headlines Friday after the NCAA reached a settlement in the lawsuit filed against the association by two Pennsylvania state officials.

The name is Joe Paterno, the late Penn State football coach. The number is 409, the total victories Paterno's record once again displays, making him college football's winningest coach.

But Friday's settlement is really about four letters -- NCAA -- and the four-letter words that should be used to describe its repeatedly shoddy approach to crisis management. Two and a half years after the NCAA stepped into uncharted waters, opting to levy historic penalties against Penn State and its football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the association sunk.

"The NCAA," Pennsylvania state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said, "has surrendered."

Corman and state Treasurer Robert McCord justifiably claimed victory in their lawsuit against the NCAA. Friday's settlement invalidates the consent decree Penn State had agreed to in July 2012, and all the remaining penalties imposed on the university, including the 112 vacated wins in football between 1998 and 2011.

The NCAA's intent in pursuing penalties against Penn State was understandable, perhaps even justified, but its methods were flawed right from the very start: July 23, 2012.

Hours after NCAA president Mark Emmert announced historic sanctions against Penn State, penalties the school had agreed to by signing a consent decree, I spoke via phone with Oregon State president Ed Ray, the chair of the NCAA's executive committee. Ray had attended the NCAA's news conference in Indianapolis that day, before flying back to Oregon.

In the interim, Penn State president Rodney Erickson had told media outlets that if he hadn't signed the consent decree, the NCAA would have imposed the so-called death penalty on Penn State's football program, suspending play for the 2012 season.

So I asked Ray about the possibility of imposing the death penalty:
President Erickson was quoted today as saying that Penn State accepted that deal because if not, you would have decided to suspend play. Can you confirm that?

Ray: I've known Rod for a long time. I didn't hear what he said. I was on a plane flying back to Oregon. But I can tell you categorically, there was never a threat made to anyone about suspension of play if the consent decree was not agreed to.

So it wasn't as though you said, "Take this deal or we're shutting you down"?

Ray: That was never even a point of discussion within either the executive committee or the Division I board.

So right away, there were questions about how the NCAA had gone about obtaining the consent decree. Emmert had made the decision to step into the mud, and he seemed to get dirty right away.

Penn State bought the apparent bluff at the time, but now it's the NCAA that's folding.

The NCAA's news release announcing the settlement begins with the line: "Programs serving child sexual abuse survivors will now receive millions of dollars as part of the NCAA's proposed settlement with Pennsylvania state officials."

University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides, a member of the NCAA's board of governors, added in a statement: "Continuing this litigation would further delay the distribution of funds to child sexual abuse survivors for years, undermining the very intent of the fine. While others will focus on the return of wins, our top priority is on protecting, educating and nurturing young people."

That's true, but it's also well-spun. Make no mistake, this was a huge loss for the NCAA and once again underscored the association's dysfunctional approach to crisis management.

"The agreement we've reached represents a complete victory," Corman said at a news conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

He later likened the settlement to achieving the mercy rule.

"They were way behind in the case," he said.

Although Corman's political victory lap and sports-themed statements seemed inappropriate, given the sensitive and tragic nature of what went on at Penn State during Sandusky's tenure, he's right about the NCAA's rush to judgment. It was an incredibly emotional time, days after the university-commissioned Freeh report lambasted top Penn State officials, including Paterno, for their failure to take appropriate action against Sandusky when allegations first surfaced against the assistant coach.

There was unprecedented pressure on the NCAA from both the public and media to act. There also was the fundamental question of whether the NCAA had a role in punishing Penn State. This was new territory, and the NCAA, under Emmert's leadership, had to decide whether to cross into it.

Two and a half years later, it's clear the association veered far off course.

The problems were there from the start in the bumbling way Emmert approached Erickson about the death penalty and consent decree.

In a deposition obtained by USA Today, Erickson said Emmert told him, "Presidents want blood. He said they would like to shut your program down for multiple years; never seen them so angry or upset. He thought the only way to head this off would be to craft a package of what he said would be very, very severe sanctions; that he might -- he emphasized might -- be willing to get the boards to look favorably upon."

The NCAA contends that the presidents discussed the death penalty early in the process but removed the option before voting on sanctions. But according to USA Today, on the same day the sanctions were announced, David Berst, the NCAA's vice president for Division I governance, wrote in an email to the Conference Commissioners Association that many presidents had favored the death penalty.

People lied here, either to Penn State or to one another. The NCAA, known for being slow, finalized the Penn State penalties only 11 days after the Freeh report went public. The climate might have demanded action, but prudence would have been a better approach. Or avoidance, as difficult as that would have been.

Not surprisingly, much of the focus is on the restored wins, Paterno's legacy and what's next. Current and former Penn State players are tweeting #409, a tribute to Paterno's restored wins total. Many want the Paterno statue restored outside Beaver Stadium.

But this is far from over.

The NCAA said it will "aggressively defend" itself in the lawsuit brought by Paterno's family, which in a statement called Friday's proposed settlement "a great victory for everyone who has fought for the truth in the Sandusky tragedy."

The Paterno family statement adds of the sanctions: "It was a grievously wrong action, precipitated by panic, rather than a thoughtful and careful examination of the facts."

After what has surfaced about the NCAA's methods, there's truth to that.

Asked Friday at the NCAA convention whether he had any regrets in pursuing penalties against Penn State, Emmert replied, "We don't ever want to have to repeat this exercise."

It's important to know your limitations.

The NCAA didn't in the summer of 2012, and it paid the price in the winter of 2015.


PSU should address Paterno's legacy

April, 23, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State officials ordered Joe Paterno's statue to be taken down nearly two years ago, but fans here haven't forgotten. They never will.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno
Ned Dishman/Getty ImagesPenn State fans won't easily forget Joe Paterno's legacy at the school, despite how his career ended.
So while controversy might swirl in other parts of the country with the news today that two alumni are seeking to install a $300,000 statue downtown, the overwhelming sentiment around here is, "About time."

You can argue about whether such a statue is appropriate, or what type of role Paterno played in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, but common ground in that argument is about as elusive as a national title. So let's just deal with the facts here.

Fans here aren't going to forget about Paterno in another two years, 20 years or 200 years. It's about as difficult to separate Paterno from Penn State as it is to separate Penn State from Pennsylvania. Ignoring Paterno’s legacy doesn't freeze the controversy; it just builds up.

There's a growing divide between fans and university officials on this -- and no matter what your feelings are on the issue, the university owes fans an explanation. The new statue has stirred up old questions and renewed others: Will Penn State ever honor Paterno? When? Why or why not? Transparency isn't a negative in this case; the university would do well to fill in fans on its intentions.

Officials ordered the original statue to be torn down, and they've never so much as disclosed the current location. Then-president Rodney Erickson's statement read, "I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno's statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing our university and beyond."

The ironic part is that the university's silence on the issue has also become a source of division. In the weeks and months following the statue's removal, it was easier to understand that silence. Fans may not have agreed with the decision, but they understood it. The nation was watching, and many -- rightly or wrongly -- looked at Paterno as more of a criminal than a legend. Like with anything, that extremism eventually gave way to more of a middle ground.

I reached out to a Penn State spokesman in an effort to shed some light on what the university's plans are regarding Paterno. What's the concern with putting Paterno's statue back up? Would there be national outrage? How does the university view him? Those questions remain unanswered because, unsurprisingly, the message was not immediately returned.

If officials are truly concerned about "divisions" and "obstacles," then they should open a dialogue instead of ignoring questions that most of the fan base have asked at one time or another. Maybe the university just wants to focus on a program that has real enthusiasm behind it, one that's somehow thrived under the sanctions. But staying quiet doesn't seem to be working.

Silence might bury a lot of things, but for better or worse, it's not going to bury Paterno's legacy. So no matter where you stand on the issue, one aspect should be evident: Penn State owes its fans and alumni an explanation.

Happy Valley not placated by reduction

September, 25, 2013

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The afterglow of reduced sanctions has faded here in Happy Valley.

Tuesday afternoon classes filled with chatter about the restoration of Penn State scholarships, but the wave of surprise and satisfaction has died down.

Former players, fans and alumni are pleased with the NCAA's most recent move. That much is obvious. But an overwhelming number of people labeled it as simply not good enough. It's cause to smile but not to celebrate.

[+] EnlargeMatt McGloin
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarFormer Penn State QB Matt McGloin is pleased with the NCAA's decision, but he wants more.
"I was really excited for Coach [Bill] O'Brien and the program, but I was kind of still pissed off because I feel like the NCAA is just taking baby steps toward things," said Stephon Morris, who played cornerback for Penn State last season. "They know they're wrong -- we all know they're wrong -- so why not give us everything we deserve? I feel like they could do more than what they're doing."

The town's opinion of the NCAA hasn't changed. Some students still strolled downtown, backpacks slung over their shoulders, with blue T-shirts that depict the letters "NCAA" with the "C" angled into a hammer and sickle. "National Communist Athletic Association," the shirts read.

Stop a Penn State student, ask about the reduction in sanctions, and you're almost begging to first hear a soliloquy on everything that's wrong with the NCAA and its president, Mark Emmert. Students and fans are quick to say they don't mean to diminish the atrocities of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky -- but they add he doesn't reflect the university and didn't offer a competitive advantage.

They say the NCAA overstepped into a criminal matter. And a reduction in sanctions is simply a door-prize for being wronged themselves.

"With the scholarships, yeah, I'm happy about it. I'm happy we give out money for kids to play football," said Penn State senior Tyler Bodnar, a meteorology major. "But it seems like they're kind of like, 'Oh we screwed up. We didn't mean to come down that hard.'

"We feel like we're still getting punished for something we had no hand in -- and neither did the players, neither did the coaches, neither did the community."

In the HUB-Robeson Center -- a popular glass-and-brick building where students can dine quickly on cheap pizza, grab a latte and leach off free WiFi -- students read books quietly on the second floor Tuesday evening and again Wednesday afternoon. Some studied on the bustling first floor, while overheard conversations centered on a criminal justice class and dorm-room drama.

The theme of student discussion did not revolve around the NCAA's most recent move, of allowing PSU 75 scholarships next season, as opposed to the original cap of 65, and putting PSU at the full allotment of 85 scholarships by 2016. Four of 10 interviewed students Tuesday evening hadn't even heard of the reduction.

Three thousand miles away, in the confines of Oakland, Calif., Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin was well-aware of the move. McGloin, the former walk-on and O'Brien protege, sat in the Penn State players' lounge last July 23, when Emmert strolled up to the podium on TV and recited the crushing sanctions.

Emmert glanced up from his notes every few moments, without a change in facial expression. At Penn State some players, mostly the freshmen and sophomores with their entire college careers in front of them, just cried. The upperclassmen, McGloin remembered, just seethed with anger and frustration.

"To watch him on TV, you could see it in his face -- how it meant nothing to him to hand all this out. It meant nothing to him," McGloin said Tuesday night. "That's what got guys so frustrated."

The reduction doesn't make up for that day, McGloin continued, but the news of extra scholarships was still something he was pleased with -- even if he wasn't so sure about the NCAA's motive.

"I'm optimistic about the situation and want to say it's the first step toward something great. At least they're doing something about it," he said. "But, at the same time, I'm starting to think that maybe the direction they're heading is, 'Hey, let's give them something small just to shut everybody up and shut these people up so it makes it look like we're doing something.' That's my only concern with it."

Penn State senior Allen Sheffield, president of the group of student campers known as "Nittanyville," understands where McGloin's coming from. Sheffield still remembers mowing the grass, washing laundry and taking out the trash before reclining on his couch last July 23 to watch the sanctions beside his father.

The shock, anger and potpourri of emotions didn't wane because of a recent NCAA announcement. One student felt it was as if a company cheated them out of $1 million and then tossed them a $100,000 settlement. Of course they're still angry. Of course they think that's not enough.

Nittany Nation took to social media to express their surprise and contentment over the restoration of scholarships. But that happiness had about the same shelf life as milk left out in the sun.

"Twitter tells everything," Sheffield said Wednesday afternoon. "My timeline from the first couple hours was just like boom-boom-boom. And then, later on, no one's really talking about it."

Some fans are still organizing and calling for the Board of Trustees to resign. Cars are still cruising through the downtown with "409" bumper stickers -- a nod to Joe Paterno's 409 wins, 111 of which were vacated as part of the sanctions. And message board posters are still questioning the validity of points made in the Freeh Report.

Happy Valley lived up to its namesake for a few hours Tuesday. But now it's as if the reduction never happened. The community isn't happy -- and might not be until Emmert can say there's no culture problem or the sanctions are erased.

"What they've given us is great and all," McGloin said. "But I guess I'd have to agree with Steph [Stephon Morris]. It's just not enough yet."
Penn State is getting closer to settling the legal claims made by the alleged victims of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Penn State's board of trustees has authorized approximately $60 million in payments to the men who say they were abused by Sandusky. Sources tell the newspaper that Penn State has agreements in principle to settle about 25 of the approximately 30 claims brought against the university. Penn State on Friday announced it had reached tentative settlements but didn't provide specifics on how many cases had been settled or dollar amounts.

Sandusky, Penn State's longtime defensive coordinator under Joe Paterno, is serving 30-60 years in prison after being convicted last summer on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

From the WSJ:
The university has reached agreements in principle to settle about 25 out of some 30 claims, and settlements are expected to be finalized within the next month, the people said. It is unclear what will happen to the remaining claims, including at least one in which the plaintiff has filed a civil lawsuit against the university.

Attorneys for the men have declined to say how much money they were individually seeking, but people familiar with the process said amounts would vary and be determined in part by the nature of the abuse, whether it occurred on Penn State's campus and over what length of time.

The university doesn't plan to comment on the settlements until all are final, which could be happening soon.
1. Something to keep in mind as No. 4 Kansas State attempts to frustrate No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday: The Wildcats have allowed one touchdown of longer than 20 yards this season, and not until last Saturday against Iowa State. That’s one fewer than the West Virginia defense has scored. The Mountaineers offense has 14 offensive touchdowns of longer than 20 yards. If big plays decide big games, Kansas State has some work to do.

2. There are two ways to look at Virginia Tech after the Hokies spotted Duke a 20-0 last week and then scored the game’s next 41 points. If the Hokies (4-3, 2-1 ACC) turned a corner, then the Coastal Division, which already has four teams with one conference loss, is theirs for the taking. And if the Hokies go into Clemson, which is coming off a bye week, and get smacked around Saturday, that will reflect the mediocrity that they have become. That Duke victory was either a springboard to contention or a snapshot of inconsistency.

3. The announcement Tuesday by Penn State that it will not renew the contract of athletic director Tim Curley is no surprise. Nor should it be confused with assigning him culpability in the Sandusky scandal. His perjury trial relating to the case won’t begin until January. But even if Curley is cleared in court, Curley is a pariah. Any school that has endured what Penn State has endured would want to start over. Within the department, there is a lot of support for interim athletic director Dave Joyner to remain in charge.

Sandusky sentenced to 30 to 60 years

October, 9, 2012

Former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years and no more than 60 years on child sex-abuse charges. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse in June.

The sentence means that Sandusky, who is 68, will likely live out the rest of his days behind bars.

Sandusky has maintained his innocence and did so again during the sentencing hearing. He spoke for about 15 minutes, echoing most of what he had said Monday. Three of Sandusky's victims read statements, and a statement was read from the mother of another victim.

Judge John Cleland told Sandusky that his repeated denials of guilt "make you dangerous." Sandusky's lawyer said he plans to appeal the conviction.

Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former senior administrator Gary Schultz are scheduled to go on trial for perjury on Jan. 7.
We'll hear from Jerry Sandusky in court Tuesday, but on the eve of his sentencing for 45 counts of child sexual abuse, the former Penn State assistant coach released an audio clip from jail Monday night, proclaiming his innocence and denouncing his accusers.

Penn State's student radio station obtained the three-minute audio clip and aired it just after 6 p.m. ET. Sandusky begins by saying, "I'm responding to the worst loss of my life." He then laments what he believes was not having a fair opportunity to prepare for trial, says his wife, Dottie, has been his only sex partner and says the first accuser, who he describes as "a dramatic, veteran accuser and always sought attention," started the allegations and "a well-orchestrated effort" that included the media, Penn State, investigators, attorneys jumped in. He said he lost his case because of "speculation and stories."

"They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart," Sandusky says. "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts."

Sandusky didn't testify during his trial in June.

Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky will be sentenced Tuesday on 45 counts of child sex abuse and is expected to address the court and maintain his innocence, according to his lawyer.

From the Associated Press:
Nobody else is expected to speak on Sandusky's behalf during the sentencing hearing Tuesday in Bellefonte, defense attorney Joe Amendola said.

"What I anticipate he'll say is that he's innocent," Amendola said outside the courthouse.

The attorney said others, including Sandusky's wife, have submitted letters on his behalf and that Dottie Sandusky stands by her husband and will attend the sentencing.

"He's going to fight for a new trial," Amendola said. He said "the important thing" about sentencing for the defense "is it starts the appellate process."

Sandusky likely will receive a life sentence for his crimes, as many of the counts carry minimum sentences of 5-10 years. He has been held in a county jail since his June 22 conviction.

Mike McQueary sues Penn State

October, 2, 2012

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.

Video: Rooting for Penn State

August, 31, 2012

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discuss if they will root for Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
More excerpts from Joe Posnanski's authorized biography, Paterno, are coming to light. The latest one covers what the book describes as a rocky relationship between Joe Paterno and his former longtime defensive coordinator, convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky.

The Patriot-News reports on the relevant passages from the book, which divulges that Paterno had written what the family called a "Why I Hate Jerry Sandusky" memo in 1993.

"In it Paterno complained that Sandusky had stopped recruiting, seemed constantly distracted, had lost his energy for coaching, and was more interested in his charity, The Second Mile. "He would gripe about Jerry all the time," one family member said."

Of course, Sandusky retired in 1999, one year after he was investigated by police for showering with a young boy. Many have wondered if the two were related, though the Freeh Report found no link. The Freeh Report did conclude that Paterno knew about the 1998 investigation.

Posnanski writes:

"The general media takeaway from this email chain was that Paterno had convinced Curley to back off reporting Sandusky and to handle this in-house. Others familiar with the emails believed instead that Paterno had demanded they confront Sandusky."

Posnanski also asked Paterno if he considered calling the police after being told by Mike McQueary in 2002 that McQueary had witnessed Sandusky in a Penn State shower with a young boy.

"To be honest with you, I didn't," Paterno responded. "This isn't my field. I didn't know what to do. I had not seen anything. Jerry didn't work for me anymore. I didn't have anything to do with him. I tried to look through the Penn State guidelines to see what I was supposed to do. It said that I was supposed to call Tim [Curley]. So I did."

Argue away.
Joe Paterno's family has just issued the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.

The Paterno family, through attorney Wick Sollers, sent a letter of appeal Friday to the NCAA, requesting an open hearing on the sanctions handed down to Penn State as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
"This matter may be the most important disciplinary action in the history of the NCAA, and it has been handled in a fundamentally inappropriate and unprecedented manner," Sollers wrote in the letter to the NCAA's Infractions Appeal Committee. "To severely punish a University and its community and to condemn a great educator, philanthropist and coach without any public review or hearing is unfair on its face and a violation of NCAA guidelines."

They have a point about the unprecedented nature of how the NCAA chose to punish the school, an argument that many have made. But if the Paternos truly believe this appeal will gain any traction in Indianapolis, then they are delusional. If they believe they are the ones to restore Penn State football back to its pre-Sandusky status, they are living on another planet.

[+] EnlargeMark Emmert
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesNCAA president Mark Emmert announced sanctions against Penn State's football program July 23.
The family argues that it has the right to file an appeal because Paterno is an "involved individual," according to NCAA rules. Well, OK. But the only real sanctions against Joe Paterno were the vacating of his wins. There is zero chance that the NCAA would overturn that decision. But even if it ignored all previous precedent and restored those wins, who really cares in the grand scheme of things?

Beyond that, Paterno's name is about as radioactive as it gets right now in the halls of the NCAA. There will be no sympathy for his reputation at this time, and that probably won't change unless new information comes to light.

The letter also seems to ignore the fact that Penn State accepted the NCAA sanctions and agreed to not have any kind of hearing on the matter. Or that the school accepted as fact the findings of the Freeh report, which it had itself commissioned and paid for.

Yet the Paternos apparently think their letter of appeal can get the NCAA to consider changing the sanctions against a school whose leadership agreed to the penalties, simply because the family of one of the main figures responsible for the sanctions doesn't think it was fair?

Yeah, um, good luck with that one.

Indeed, the NCAA rightly batted away the appeal late Friday. But,'s Don Van Natta Jr. writes, the Paternos could use that denial as the basis to sue the NCAA. So perhaps this is just legal wrangling. But what, really, will the Paternos seek to gain by any kind of lawsuit? I'm no lawyer, but most people have heard the phrase "you can't defame the dead." The Paternos don't seem to have any standing to fight the sanctions against the football program since they are not currently associated with it. So all I could see them angling for is the restoration of wins. Which, again, would be pointless and wildly tone deaf, given all that has gone on in the program.

We get that the Paternos are upset and want to defend JoePa's honor. Fine. Try to find some evidence that disputes the Freeh report. But actions like these only make them look like they're grasping at straws.

Van Natta: Inside the Penn State sanctions

August, 3, 2012
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?"
USC coach Lane Kiffin said depth at running back was his team's biggest concern at Pac-12 media day. That concern was addressed Tuesday with the confirmation that Penn State's Silas Redd will transfer west.

Redd, second-team All-Big Ten in 2011, rushed for 1,241 yards and seven TDs as a sophomore for the Nittany Lions. The explosive 209 pounder should pair nicely with Curtis McNeal, who rushed for 1,005 yards in 12 games and averaged a stout 6.9 yards per carry.

In fact, just like that, the Trojans transformed a questionable position into arguably the nation's best backfield tandem. The running backs should pair nicely with the nation's best wide receiver tandem (Robert Woods & Marqise Lee) and best QB (Matt Barkley).

A statement from USC athletic director Pat Haden:
"We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan Family. He is an outstanding student and athlete. When the NCAA presented the option to transfer, Silas and his family put a lot of thought and research into making this decision.

"At USC, we've seen both sides of this issue, having lost a number of players to transfer due to our NCAA sanctions in 2010. But Lane Kiffin and his coaches would not be doing their job if they did not try to improve our team every single day. There is a specific need here for a player like Silas Redd, so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA."

Now... about that defensive line depth.

Redd, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, has been allowed to leave Penn State without penalty -- he normally wouldn't be immediately eligible -- due to NCAA sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Earlier this summer, he was named to the Walter Camp and Doak Walker awards watch lists.

USC will have to clear a scholarship spot for Redd -- it's not allowed to exceed 75 scholarship players, 10 fewer than the FBS limit, due to NCAA sanctions -- but it obviously will do what it takes to put Redd on the roster, even if that means yanking a scholarship. The most likely scenario is an existing player or incoming freshman not qualifying academically.
CHICAGO -- Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti had just come off the field from 7-on-7 work around 8 a.m. Thursday morning when he got a call from head coach Bill O'Brien.

"Hey, Mike," O'Brien said. "You've got to be on a plane at 9:30."

Mauti was a last-minute addition to Penn State's player contingent for Big Ten media days, a contingent that very nearly didn't come to Chicago at all. But Mauti ended up being arguably the best interview subject here, offering an impassioned defense of his team and railing against the NCAA transfer rules.

The senior -- who led a players' statement of loyalty on Wednesday in State College along with teammate Michael Zordich -- drew a lot of notice for what he said. Mauti returned to his hotel room on Thursday evening and spent three hours going over emails sent to him. The correspondence came from fans, alumni, heads of Penn State departments and professors -- some who had taught Mauti and some who had not.

Mauti said he got one email from a couple of fans who told them they'd sworn never to go another Penn State football game after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke. But they told him that after watching him talk, they promised never to miss another game.

"That's why I know we're doing the right thing here," he told reporters Friday. "I told coach [Thursday morning], I'm going to let it fly, man. We've got to let the public and the world know we're sticking together. We wanted this platform, of course we did."

All of the Nittany Lions here in attendance -- defensive tackle Jordan Hill and offensive lineman John Urschel were the other players -- handled themselves admirably through the media crush. Hill said he also received scores of supportive emails.

"When Mauti and Zordich were there with the team behind them, there was a tremendous amount of groundswell coming off of that video," Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said. "It's the players that are really continuing to put a stake in the ground for this program."

Mauti could become the face of the team this year -- if he can stay healthy. He missed the 2009 season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament and played only four games before blowing out his left ACL last year. When he's on the field, he's one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.

Mauti says he feels great now and credits the work he's done with new strength coach Craig Fitzgerald and trainer Tim Bream.

"I've never been stronger in what I've been doing as far as weightlifting, and I haven't put a [knee] brace on all summer," he said. "The last time I was doing this rehab, I never took the brace off, so mentally I'm a whole lot more confident in my legs.

"I feel as good going into the season as I ever have, and it's a testament to those two guys."