Posts Tagged ‘Joe Paterno’

400th Post – Paterno Loses Halo & Dietz Vindicated

July 17, 2012

WordPress tells me that this is my 400th message. At about 300 words each, that comes to 120,000 words—a book. Sure, these messages could, with some effort, be compiled into a book, either print or ebook, but who would buy it? Darn few, most likely.

Here in Central Pennsylvania, Penn State/Sandusky/Paterno/Spanier stories dominate the media and will probably continue to do so for some time. Many have been shocked by the behavior of Penn State’s bureaucracy but I haven’t. What Sandusky did was unthinkable and criminal beyond belief. However, Penn State officials did what college and universities always do—at least when they think they can get away with it—cover it up. Colleges are insular by nature and Penn State is worse than most, possibly because of its relatively remote location. I remember reading in my student days about female students getting raped in dark campus parking lots across the country and how college administrations did their best to keep news of it from being made public. Congress finally did something about this in 1990.

The Clery Act, named for Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered in her campus residence hall in 1986, requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs (about all except Hillsdale College) to keep and disclose information on crimes committed on or near their campuses. Failure to report heinous crimes can result in a school being suspended from federal student aid programs.

There has been a lot of chatter about the NCAA giving Penn State’s football program the “death penalty” but, perhaps, suspending Penn State from the student aid program might be a more effective punishment. The major thing that federal student aid has accomplished has been to increase tuition costs and for schools to increase their revenues. Higher costs make working one’s way through college more difficult with the result that students rack up so much debt that many are unable to pay after leaving college. It may be that eliminating federal loans would be the best thing for students long term.

The only actions taken so far is to paint away Joe Paterno’s halo (and remove Jerry Sandusky) from a mural and to rename Paternoville to Nittanyville. The statue of Joe Paterno remains in front of Beaver Stadium and he is still in the College Football Hall of Fame.

One wonders what Lone Star Dietz is thinking as he readies his better-than-best suit for his induction this weekend. Could it be that he feels vindicated after seeing how the Paterno/Bowden fiasco turned out?

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Lone Star Gets His Due

May 24, 2012

Tonight, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC holds a reception to kick off its new exhibit, “Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics,” to celebrate the athletic achievements of Native Americans on the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Stockholm Games that featured legendary performances by Jim Thorpe and Lewis Tewanima. I am attending because Bob Wheeler, Jim Thorpe’s Boswell, is to speak there. While making preparations for attending this event, I received some unexpected news.

The National Football Foundation (NFF) released its selections for induction in the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 and Lone Star Dietz was finally on the list. As blog followers probably know, Greg and John Witter, first cousins and rabid Washington State football fans, and I campaigned to get Dietz placed on the Hall of Fame ballot some years ago. Getting his won-loss record corrected was the key to getting him nominated but there were larger obstacles yet to come.

Lone Star Dietz died in 1964 and there are few people still alive that knew him. Also, he coached at schools with smaller alumni bases and less clout than the major football factories. Washington State, for example, couldn’t muster the support for him that, say, Ohio State could for John Cooper or Michigan could for Lloyd Carr. While both these recent coaches had very good careers, neither had the impact on the history of the game as did Dietz. It’s one thing to inherit a strong program and be a good steward, but it is quite another to rebuild a floundering program from the ground up, something that Lone Star did multiple times.

The closest he came was in 2006 when the selectors chose Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno instead of the people who were on the ballot. A couple of years ago, when Lone Star’s name was dropped from the ballot, I gave up all hope of him ever being selected. I didn’t even know that his name was on the Divisional ballot this year, so was shocked when I started receiving phone calls from reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

All I can say is that it’s long overdue. Although he’s being brought in through the back door, so to speak, he will finally be in. He’s the first Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach; the rest were as players. Whether this honor is enough to offset the many indignities Dietz suffered and mollify the Lone Star Curse is yet to be seen.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/cougarfootball/2018262997_dietz23.html

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/may/23/blanchette-wsu-legend-dietz-gets-his-due/

The Dangers of Awarding Honors Prematurely

November 15, 2011

Current events interrupt the scheduled blog for today. The Big Ten Conference announced that they are removing Joe Paterno’s name from the conference championship trophy. I haven’t made my mind up regarding Paterno’s involvement, if any, in Penn State’s cover up of the crimes committed on its premises to young boys, but I do see the folly in bestowing honors on coaches still in the midst of their careers. If the evidence eventually exonerates Paterno, will the Big Ten return his name to the trophy? What will Penn State do about the statue of Joe Paterno that stands in front of Beaver Stadium.? Penn State would not have to make a decision regarding the statue if they had waited to put up a monument dedicated to him.

A few years ago, the National Football Foundation (NFF) interrupted the counting of votes on ballots submitted by voting members of the NFF to determine which coaches would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame to select two coaches for induction who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction because of the rules in place at that time. The NFF quickly changed the rules in a tortured way to make Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno eligible, disregarded the ballots that had been cast, and selected Bowden and Paterno for the upcoming induction. That might have been Lone Star Dietz’s chance to be inducted but we will never know that because all the votes for him and the other candidates on the ballot were ignored.

Because of their premature action, the NFF now has to decide to strip Paterno of their honor as has the Big Ten Conference or to let him remain in the hall in spite of what happened while he was actively coaching. If the NFF had simply followed their own rules, the NFF would not have a decision to make.

The Single-Wing May Be Off life Support

December 5, 2008

Jim Sweeney, the life-long Army fan who told me about the Sports Illustrated article, shared with me that on Thanksgiving Day he was able to watch, on ESPN2 no less, two Jesuit high schools from New York City play each other in an 85-year long Thanksgiving tradition. Xavier High played Fordham Prep at Fordham Field in the Bronx. Sweeney’s (also JoePa’s) alma mater, Brooklyn Prep, was, until it closed in 1973, the third Jesuit high school in the City. You probably already know that Joe Paterno played tailback in Brooklyn Prep’s double-wing and that his brother, George, was fullback. Something few of us know is that both Xavier and Fordham Prep are NOW running the single-wing. What a treat it must have been for Jim to watch these teams in the comfort of his living room.

Another result of the Sports Illustrated article or the fact that NFL teams are dabbling with the single-wing is that I was interviewed yesterday by the local NBC affiliate about the connection between the Wildcat formation and Carlisle Indian School. After interviewing me, reporter George Lettis visited Carlisle Barracks and shot part of his piece on Indian Field. WGAL’s website has an article on its website that can be found at http://www.wgal.com/sports/18199527/detail.html. The broadcast video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP9FogxDRII. In addition to footage of Lettis and me, portions of the documentary Tom McCue and I made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the single-wing are included. Narrator Lynn Myers’ voice comes through loud and clear.

It will be interesting to see how long NFL coaches run the Wildcat or other versions of the single-wing before they admit that the fundamental formation was developed a century ago by Pop Warner for the Carlisle Indians. Some think that NFL coaches will continue to obfuscate this point so as not to appear to be behind the times by 100 years.