I wish I could start somewhere else this morning, but the scandal at Penn State is too serious to downplay.
The horrifying allegations against Jerry Sandusky are difficult to read (there’s a link to the attorney general’s graphic report on this web page). If true, Sandusky is nothing less than a monster.
This was Joe Paterno’s right-hand man, the guru of “Linebacker U.” It’s frightening that a man with Sandusky’s reputation was doing this behind closed doors. And unfathomable that leaders at Penn State didn’t work harder to stop him.
The scandal has already ruined the careers of two Penn State officials, including the athletic director, who stepped down Sunday night.
Is Paterno next?
A sports columnist in Philly says Paterno must go. Here’s another column that hits JoePa. Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski — one of the best journalists in the country — is spending the season in Happy Valley writing a book about Paterno. He tried Sunday to put the news in perspective.
It’s been a rough year for college athletics. Miami, Ohio State, Oregon … the list of shady behavior goes on and on. But nothing compares to sexually abusing little boys.
If Paterno had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions and didn’t do everything to prevent them, he failed not only as a coach, but as a human being. And people will never look at him the same.
Even if Paterno wasn’t part of a cover-up, I doubt he’ll coach next year. Which means Saturday’s game against Nebraska will be his last at Beaver Stadium.
>> About five years ago, my roommate and I picked football games every week: five college, five NFL. We may have wagered pizza money — I don’t even remember.
For whatever reason, I wasn’t very good at picking college games. But the NFL? I hit 60 or 70 percent. I didn’t study scouting reports. I didn’t look at the handicapping trends. I broke the NFL down very simply: What happened the week before? Who played well? Who didn’t?
There’s so much parity in the NFL, it usually comes down to who is emotionally fresh and who isn’t. So if a team played really well the week before, I picked against them. And vice versa.
That’s the Big Ten this year.
Michigan State rolls off a few emotional wins at home, then fails to show up at Nebraska.
Nebraska dominates Sparty one week, then gets victimized by Northwestern.
Iowa lays an egg at Minnesota, then roars back against Michigan.
(Of course, there are exceptions, but more times than not, the rule has held up.)
The Huskers played some bad games last year in the Big 12. At Iowa State. Kansas. They managed to win those games.
The Big Ten is not better than the Big 12 — not at the top anyway. But the bottom half of the league is usually superior to the Big 12 bottom. That means Nebraska needs to play with more focus each week. More intensity.
At the start of the season, a lot of smart people observed that the talent gap isn’t very wide in the Big Ten. There would be a lot of games that could go either way.
Saturday in Lincoln, it went the wrong way for Nebraska.
>> Friday I wrote that Bo Pelini changed tradition to maximize the motivational value of the Blackshirts. That’s true — and there’s an argument for his method. But in the future, Pelini should reconsider awarding the jerseys the week before the season opener — as his predecessors did.
Pelini, in my opinion, counted on the Blackshirts to give his defense a confidence boost last week. Instead, they may have distracted his players. And when you base Blackshirt distribution on team performance, what do you do when the defense gives up three touchdowns in the second half? Take ‘em away? Just award the shirts in August. And try to stay under 15.
>> Inside the Nebraska press box Saturday night, I caught some of the LSU-Alabama game and thought to myself, maybe it’s time to expand the football field. Maybe 53 yards wide isn’t enough. The athletes are too fast nowadays. Then I turned to Oklahoma State-Kansas State. And I thought, maybe it’s time to condense the field — 53 yards is too wide.
It’s hard to believe, watching those two games, that they were playing the same sport.
>> I would submit LSU as Exhibit A that a bold nonconference schedule can pay off. The Tigers were hardened in September by showdowns with Oregon and West Virginia (both away from home). Did they beat Alabama because of those games? Maybe, maybe not. But LSU was about as prepared as a team can be for primetime at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
>> Missouri to the SEC became official on Sunday. Something tells me Les Miles isn’t losing sleep over Gary Pinkel’s offense.
>> Roy Helu is the new No. 1 back in Washington. Helu caught a franchise record 14 passes Sunday in a loss to the 49ers. When a running back catches 14 passes, the quarterback — John Beck — isn’t seeing the field. But that’s beside the point. It was a big day for Helu, even if he wasn’t happy about it.