Here's the first published excerpt from John U. Bacon's upcoming book, Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football. This section covers the aftermath of the NCAA sanctions at Penn State.
First excerpt from John U. Bacon's "Fourth and Long"
penn state got off easy with the NCAA as far as I'm concerned. If they would have fought the sanctions, the NCAA was considering shutting it down for four years I remember reading. That should have been the punishment anyway.
You gonna be alright?
But I must say reading that snippet it sure didnt sound like John U was writing anything the PSU faithul would have a problem with. That segment sounded like it was written by a pure "WeArePennState" bullshit apologist.
I can definitely feel for Mauti and O'Brien (although the latter knew what he was getting in to) on a personal level while having nothing but contempt for what Penn State stands for and thinking they got off incredibly easy.
I don't get that from this particular excerpt. If you want to argue that the sanctions levied against PSU were too weak, that's one argument, but I have no problem with the Penn State players in the program now, along with O'Brien, who decided to stay and try to maintain the program. None of them bear any personal moral responsibility for the crimes committed by Sandusky and his enablers in the PSU administration and athletic department.
I guess it depends on which section of the snippet stood out to you. Agreed he doesnt say great things about Paterno but I guess I was more focused on stuff like this (sorry about the enormous font size in the cut and paste job)
As Zordich told me, "I've never been closer to any team in my life than this one."
At the end of the season I asked Mauti to look back on his decisions to commit to Penn State in July of 2008, and to stay after the NCAA sanctions hit. Did he think he made the right decisions? He grinned very slowly, nodded, then said, "Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah."
I guess I don't understand your problem with his statement here... all he's saying is that he's glad he stayed, not that he condoned any of the offield stuff. This is all I've read, and maybe there's other stuff that's more problematic.
I agree with you about the delusional fanbase aspect of PSU and how fucked up it is.
All this shit happened in large measure because Paterno's ego was so enormous that he couldn't face not being head coach, even though he should have retired at least 15 years before he was fired.
It really makes me appreciate even more Bo's decision to step down. There is nobody who would have complained if he had wanted to stay on for another decade at least, but he knew that wasn't a recipe for anything other than disaster in the long run.
Well, let's set the record straight on Bo's retirement. While I don't disagree that he never wanted to be a figurehead, a large part of Bo's decision came from the fact he was essentially living on borrowed time. His health in 1988-89 was not good for a 60 year old man, to say the least. If he had kept on coaching another few years in that condition, he knew full well it would have killed him. Instead, he got nearly twenty very fulfilling years.
Plainly, if Bo had a healthy heart, there's no doubt he would have coached well into the 1990s.
What Bo really did well was have a plan in place, and a willingness to go. He just didn't get health notice that he had to quit. He took the AD job well before that just so he could name his successor. So he knew it was coming. Yes if healthier he probably wouldn't have gone right then. But he could have just done what Paterno did and let others do all the work while he was the figurehead. Mo and Lloyd told him to stay and just do that. But he wouldn't.
And it could be argued that Paterno at least mentally wasn't healthy enough to really be the head coach 15 years earlier. So I think Bo would have coached longer with a perfect ticker, but I don't think he was hanging on till his last breath. He often spoke about seeing Bear Bryant hang on and keep coaching because he all his assistants who had jobs because of him, and adiminstrators, and so on. And saw Bear die on the job. He didn't want the same thing to happen to him.
As it was, it worked out beautifully. He coached successfully to the end without the talk of him "losing it" that Paterno heard; it was really probably getting close to time for him to go as recruiting was more at a strong midwest base that took an uptick with Mo's arrival (it's hard to kiss a 17 year old's ass as you get older); and helped move us into a more modern offense; all while keeping things in place. They should be using this as an example in business courses on how to handle a succession.
I agree with both Don and you.
It is interesting to compare the coach that preached "the team, the team, the team" and how he went out with the graduating seniors to the coach that was so obsessed with his own personal record of wins that he compromised his own legacy (and W/L record) by being an obvious figurehead and head coach in name only for years.
Bo said in interviews that he was offered the chance to be a Paterno type figure and coach the team but he had no interest in doing that.
yeah, i don't that that from this story at all. he points out the hypocracy of the NCAA & cites the 91% PSU FB grad rate, but those are fairly indisputable points.
He also suggests that Paterno, in his last five years of coaching, was essentially a figurehead whose arrogance wouldn't let him envision a Penn State without himself, who had little grasp of who his players were or the daily operations of his team and whose efforts disrupted practice and game management. That's not really a surprise from the outside, but it's far from the true believers (and JayPa's) accounts of St. Paterno.
Notice the complete lack of attribution or sourcing for that entire paragraph re: Paterno "checking out." It reminds me of the unsourced garbage regarding Lloyd Carr that he published in 3 and Out, and the general lack of quotes from dozens of the relevant figures in Michigan Football during the timeframe of his book.
But hey - when you can get Dusty Rutledge on the record bashing recruits and former coaches, you do it.
Here it is, in all of the fine detail I can find, and quoting Carr in full:
So there you are.
was the paragraph about the NCAA being Athlete-Student focused. What about allowing transfers was not in the interest of the Student-Athlete. Heck, there surely are some students who now wish their degree was from some other place, and a guy who's 91% likely to graduate from Penn State is probably 91% likely to graduate from wherever they transfer to (maybe even more so).
I also think the guys who stayed and held it together are admirable (much like the guys who stuck it out at Michigan through the adversity of two coaching / scheme changes).
As far as believing Jay Paterno and crew, or John's paragraph ... well Jay still thinks Joe Paterno -- through inaction at best -- isn't complicit. So I take the image Jay is trying to resurrect with a serious grain of salt. The saddest irony is the general public would more readily embrace that resurrection of Joe Pa's do it the right way image with an admission of fault and focused action to atone than continued denial. Seriously - all they need to do is go on the public speaking circuit championing having the strength to take ownership and come forward even when you have doubts / cannot believe that someone is sexually assaulting minors. i.e., Joe Pa made a mistake, and if even Joe Pa can make a mistake given what he stood for, then anyone can, and we all should learn from this. Jay is misusing his pulpit and in doing so undermining his own objective.
Always bothers me when people get all high and mighty about an entire fan base. I agree with you that the fan base showing public support for the people that did what they did is an awful thing, but as a whole, I doubt that the PSU fan base is that much different from our own.
In fact I would venture to say that the differences betwen the fan bases of Michigan, Ohio, Penn State, Wiscy, Illinois (intentionally omitting MSU), and some others is really not as great as we make it out to be.
We're all pretty similar groups of people, we just happen to root for different schools. Granted some groups have more bad apples than others, but again, the average fan from any of those schools is not that much different than an average Michigan fan.
Head over to BSD and look at the comments about the Wrangler flip. There's a fairly large fringe group there.
You could've said the same thing about Michigan's fanbase after Dee Hart, Kris Frost, Gareon Conley, Damon Webb (not a flip, but still). Every fan base has a nice element of assitude to it, even the one you're a part of.
No, you could not have. There are Penn State fans making comments like the only reason we offered Wrangler, or the only reason he was invited to the UA game was because he had a Penn State offer. They actually believe that their school drives rankings and offers, not responds to them. I don't remember any kind of crazy shit like that about any of those players from our fanbase.
This is hilarious. You've obviously never heard about the Scout and Rivals "three-star bump" almost every lower ranked Michigan and Notre Dame prospect gets after they commit to said schools.
But the PSU fans were claiming something different. According to them, Brady Hoke and Les Miles had no interest and no idea about Wangler's skills until PSU offered him and that it was PSU's offer that made Michigan and LSU interested in and aware of him in the first place.
We're going to have to learn to spell Wangler. That point probably should have been a few decades ago.
I don't miss Bursley
I completely agree. That fan base just doesn't seem to realize that any success they've had from about 1998-2011 was fundamentally based on an evil sham. Those players likely don't even go to PSU if Sandusky is stopped in 1998 (i.e., you know, properly reported and Sandusky is outed/the proper steps are taken)...and JoePa (who emails and his own handwritten notes show knew what was going on; this is why the AUSA has said, I believe, that if he were alive he'd have been charged with perjury just like the others) was, at a minimum, complicit.
They really shouldn't be allowed to have a football program for a year or two. Also, am I the only one who wishes the government would've, you know, followed the Clery Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clery_Act) and pulled their student loan funding for awhile for their egregious violations of said act? This went all the way to the top, after all. I realize that "hurts" innocent students, but 1.) the coverup was systematic and went all the way to the top, 2.) the law is the law, and 3.) there is always collateral damage when a punitive measure is taken. (I.e., the kids of murderers lose their fathers/mothers to prison, etc.). I honestly think that alumni base isn't sorry enough, never was, never will be, and deserved worse than they got.
I wish they'd never joined the Big Ten. Seriously, fuck Penn State. Never had a problem with them before all of this, really, but the overwhelming reaction- at least what I've seen on television and read- seems to be that they think they are the victims here. You can make an argument that the NCAA overstepped its bounds, but by agreeing to the sanctions, Penn State legitimized the NCAA's measures. And I really think they deserved the death penalty. Paying players out of a slush fund at SMU doesn't even come into the same galaxy as what went on at PSU, and the fact that more children were raped- scores more- due to the coverup makes it just sickening.
The ones who are defiant in the face of the sanctions are the ones who tend to be the loudest. There are many people whose PSU gear has been gathering dust in their garages now for more than year, but they don't advertise their decreased (or now-absent) fandom. Being both deflated and disgusted doesn't lend itself to public showings.
I agree with most of what you said, FWIW. I just wanted to point out that many PSU people were as horrified and dismayed by what went on as anyone else.
will undoubtedly show these programs in an interesting way
Kind of wish I had tried harder to get into one of his classes. Looking forward to the book.
open it up and of course my buddy is in the smack dab middle of the picture(#31 Brad Bars, brother of Blake)
edit: and as are my feelings with other Bacon books, very powerful from that excerpt alone
Bacon is good and works his craft well. He puts in the time and seems a meticulous researcher. In this age of auto-publish on the web it seems like there are fewer and fewer true sports journalists. Bacon is one.
He's either not a meticulous researcher, or he has a bad editor. There are numerous factual errors in his 3 and Out book regarding easily researchable facts about Michigan football games from 2008-10.
Go back and read the original threads on the topics. Some include completely butchering the score and stats from the Purdue game and talking about how upset Threet was from getting pulled from a game in which he didn't get actually get pulled.
I actually did pre-order the book, but now I have to admit that I am eagerly awaiting it because, if this is an indication of the perspectives we may get into a couple programs, it definitely promises to be an intriguing read then. I will say, however, that I have an issue with how this is phrased:
Now it was time for the team to pay for Sandusky's sins.
It was a cultural failure at Penn State, a failure to monitor of the worst kind, and to frame it as Bacon has here irritates me honestly. Penn State failed do the things which promote integrity and character, thereby failing those players. As they admit to feeling as if they were protecting an image, then it seems like this hints at the cult of personality around Paterno and the program.
Nonetheless, good stuff, thanks for sharing this.
Finally know what to tell my family to get me for Christmas this year. Will get that and Mathew Berry's new book on Fantasy Football. I may actually read more than 1 book in a year for the first time a while (not proud of this).
Bacon is an excellent writer, but this doesn't read like history, it reads like propaganda. Lines like "now it was time for the team to pay for Sandusky's sins" don't belong in an honest history (because the sanctions weren't being imposed because of Sandusky's crimes, but because of the university's reaction to them). Ditto for the third, fourth, and fifth paragraphs from the end, which dismisses the entire NCAA transfer policy as "propaganda" because the NCAA made a one-time exception to it under extraordinary circumstances.
If this is a typical exampe of Bacon's work in this book, I think he is seriously risking his credibility as a sports historian and journalist. This entire series of anecdotes, unleavened by any attempt to understand other players in the story, is the opposite of history and journalism.
but I (mostly) disagree.... I've said here before that I don't feel PSU deserved probation for the crimes that were committed (I also know I'm in a tiny minority). I suggest we expand "Sandusky's crimes" to "Sandusky's, the AD's, the president's crimes". You use "the University" in place of the individuals who made the poor and immoral decisions to protect Sandusky. I don't think this is correct. There were criminal punishments available for Sandusky and his enablers. Putting a football team on probation, or even killing a program, is for recruiting voilations, grade fixing, and allowing Terrell Pryor to have his way with the equipment room. Jail (and hell) is for what Sandusky and co. did. The PSU players discussed by Bacon never had any benefit from Sandusky's deeds and shouldn't have paid a price for them.
You are arguing against points that I never made. By and large, I agree with you that the criminal justice system will handle the criminal complaints. That leaves the non-criminal violations of NCAA regulations, though. As in every other case of NCAA sanctions, this is what the NCAA cited, and this is what it is "punishing the innocent" in order to deter.
You can argue that the NCAA shouldn''t punish the innocent for violations of its regulations, and i would be sympathetic to that argument, but only to the extent that you can make a case for deterring violations in the absence of punishments if the guilty have left the university (which is almost always the case).
You said "(because the sanctions weren't being imposed because of Sandusky's crimes, but because of the university's reaction to them)." While this is true, I think it more accurate to not define the bad acts as being committed by "the university", but by the AD, president, etc. When viewing the punishment to the football players/program in terms of acts committed by a few criminals and not "the university", I think Bacon's portrayal makes a little more sense. No harm no foul, Go Blue, cheers, etc.....
If you want to argue that the NCAA model that primarily punishes those no longer in attendance, he could listen to that argument. But that's not special to this case, it's pretty much every punishment the NCAA doles out. And the "University" gets blamed because they're the existing institution still around when everyone else who has benefited has left or in this case, been punished by the law.
And that PSU as an instituion did in fact benefit by covering it up rather than have a child rapist as the #2 guy in their football program be revealed. Now it wasn't done by the new economics freshman, or the administrator in engineering, or even some athletic official in the department; and each may have benefited minimally, at best. But the institution they're a part of benefited, and they're the organization being punished. The collateral damage is always sad, but until someone comes up with a way to better punish only the guilty it seems like the alternative is to do nothing.
If a booster is giving kids money to play for his school of choice a) he's breaking a recruiting rule, b) he's benefiting the program by supplying improved talent, c) he's putting that same program at risk by breaking the rule.... it forms a nice tight circle (that the NCAA does a crappy job of closing). In the Sandusky case, disgusting crimes were committed and covered up, but they didn't benefit the team other than avoiding the negative press that would have befallen the program had the crimes become public. Pressure of potential NCAA sanctions would never have effected the decision making of Sandusky's enablers (after all, they were personally risking much more by covering the crap up). In my (minority) view, NCAA sanctions are for cleaning up/punishing dirty programs, not for enforcing criminal statutes. I understand your point about "collateral damage", but I realy don't feel too bad for an 80s SMU Mustang, a Miami Hurricane, or a more recent Trojan (or our own Fab Five). Seems to me they likely know the score. I can feel for the PSU players. Sandusky had nothing to do with them and nothing he did was benefitting their team.
Do not want to get into a big to do about what happened at Penn State but I just have a feeling that most of those who are so anti-PSU either got all their info from ESPiN or the "fact-Freeh" report and if they did get it from the "fact-Freeh" report they did not read that report closely or acknowledge that the report was basically all conjecture and full of unsupported conclusions. The King & Spaulding report is something many probably never touched either and for those that seem so passionate with the hate, I just feel they should probably take time to see if it is warranted or rather take the time to get the facts straight, so they can direct at the correct people / group.
- Go Blue
The King and Spalding report was commissioned solely to discredit the Freah report. It can hardly be considered impartial. Besides, it was about the allegations against JoPa, and even if those were overstated, that doesn't excuse the fact that the AD, VP for Security, and President all failed in their responsibilities.
I understand that the "fact-free" university accepted the Freah Report as valid, and then later regretted it, but the fact of the matter is the the Freah report remains the standard by which the truth iis judged, simply because it was accepted as valid by everyone involved except the Paternos. People can wail about the injustice of everyone agreeing on the truth, but that train has left the station.
(Other than the avoidance of criminal prosecution for administrators who were asleep at the switch) was that the nondisclosure avoided deterring top recruits from attending PSU.
As you note, the investigation has had that effect, but I wouldn't call it ironic in the least. It's precisely the program-reputation-damaging nightmare that Paterno et al were afraid of.
he's writing from the perspective of being inside the program, i'm not sure what else you'd expect
I'd expect him to distinguish between what the players thought, and the truth. I can read homers for free; if all Bacon is going to do in the book is to be a homer for four schools consecutively, why should I pay him for what others do for free?
If he was, he should just list the facts and leave it at that.
"Three and Out" was a good book that I enjoyed --- it was mostly a historical account but no doubt he made his personal opinion on his subject (fairly sympathetic to RR) apparent there as well.
There's no way one can write a story about 2012 PSU FB without acknowledging the "elephant in the room" (the NCAA sanctions) at some point. I don't think there's a single person who calls themselves a college football fan who doesn't have a fairly strong opinion on the subject, one way or the other. In this book, he appears to make his feelings known, fair enough.
I beieve there is an excluded middle in your argument: Bacon doesn't have to choose between homeristic writing that tells lies and "a scholarly historical book." You mention "Three and Out" as a bok that you enjoyed. It was neither a homeristic, truth-denying book, nor a scholarly historical book. It was popular history. It told anecdotes, and also pointed out where those anecdotes conflicted with recorded history. That's what I expect from Bacon. He does this in his other books, and in his talks.
The NCAA sanctions are not at all an "elephant in the room." They are being dealt with on a daily basis at Penn State, and have been since they were announced.
And you'd lose your bet abut everyone who calls him or her self a college football fan having a strong opion on the sanctions. I don't. I can see how they are necessary to the self-regulation of the college fotball universities, but I can also see how they are punishing the innocent. If they stopped tomorrow, it wouldn't bother me nor give me joy.
When he makes flatly false statements and presents them as truth, he is failing in his task. When he lets his personal feelings about a topic overwhelm his professionalism, then his book isn't of any interest to me. I can read twisted distortions of the truth for free.
That line is a flaw. If only Sandusky had sinned of course, we likely don't have NCAA Sanctions.
Is it a fatal flaw? Maybe --- I'll be interested in reading some other book execerpts (which will be filtering out over the next couple weeks) to judge more fully.
The 3rd through 5th last paragraphs, no problem w/ Bacon's comments there. But I do agree with an upstream comment of yours, if this is Bacon writing a homer book for 4 consecutive schools, it's not a book worth its price tag. I can't find the link, but I read something a month or so ago, Bacon saying the book will make fans of all four schools "uncomfortable" (or something like that). I hope that's right.
Yeah, I don't get his critique here. The NCAA usually gets banged for constraining s-a's ability to act as agents on their own behalf, of holding them to incredibly one sided contracts that constrain their movement and their economic agency (ie the transfer rules and the ability to profit from their own likenesses). This is an example of the NCAA imposing new structural constraints on Penn State but granting its s-a's agency to determine whether they want to be limited by the inability to compete for championships.
Is he suggesting it was inappropriate for other coaches to contact them? And that represented an intrusion into their lives (if so, I'd like so see a bit more detail about the nature of this intrusion or the excesses to which coaches took it). If he's just critiquing the transfer possibility, isn't Bacon endorsing the same constraints that many people use to criticize the one-sided nature of the NCAA's scholarship system?