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CBSSports.com National Columnist

McQueary to coach Saturday? Reasoning difficult to comprehend

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There could be other forces at work allowing Mike McQueary to remain as a Penn State assistant. (AP)  
There could be other forces at work allowing Mike McQueary to remain as a Penn State assistant. (AP)  

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- As of right now, Mike McQueary will coach Saturday for Penn State when it plays Nebraska. There are theories behind this, theories that delve deeply into legal stuff, and I'll address those theories in a minute. At the moment, though, I'm trying to wrap my brain around the idea that Joe Paterno got fired for doing the same thing Mike McQueary did or did not do in 2002 -- and still Mike McQueary will coach Saturday.

And I'm failing to understand, because the idea is grotesque. Mike McQueary, coaching? Saturday? This is the same Mike McQueary who claimed to have seen a young boy being sexually assaulted by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in a football shower in 2002, and who reacted by running away. From what we know, the attack by Jerry Sandusky -- an attack McQueary has testified to seeing -- continued in that shower.

Mike McQueary ran away.

Didn't stop it.

Mike McQueary ran to his telephone, but his first call wasn't to the police. His second call wasn't to the police, either. I could go on and on, but let's just say this: McQueary never called the police. What he did was, he called his daddy. He told his daddy what he saw, and his daddy told McQueary to get the hell out of that building.

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Presumably, Sandusky was still in the shower. And Sandusky wasn't alone.

Mike McQueary will coach for Penn State on Saturday against Nebraska. Sorry, I'm repeating myself. Still trying to wrap my brain around that fact. Still failing.

But it's not for lack of effort. I've asked Penn State people for help, but didn't get it. For the first time as interim coach, Tom Bradley met the media on Thursday -- and I asked him about McQueary. Lots of people asked Bradley about that, wanting to know if McQueary would coach on Saturday (yes), who made the decision (interim athletic director Mark Sherburne), where McQueary would perform his coaching duties (maybe the press box).

And those were all good questions. But they weren't my question. My question was, as I posed it to Bradley," Joe Paterno got fired for not reporting what happened in 2002 to police. Mike McQueary didn't report it either. Why is Paterno not coaching Saturday but McQueary is?"

Bradley ducked the question, as he ducked most hard questions Thursday, and I don't blame him for that. This is an active criminal case, and people much higher up the food chain at Penn State are making the toughest decisions. Why is McQueary allowed to coach on Saturday? It's not for Tom Bradley to say. He might not even know.

But I have two theories, and this is not an either/or proposition. Both theories could be true. Both could be false too, but I doubt it. I mean, I really doubt it. One of these theories is true, possibly both. Here they are, and my money's on the second one:

1. Penn State is afraid to fire McQueary because that would leave the school vulnerable to a lawsuit under whistleblower laws, which protect employees like McQueary after reporting illegal activity at the workplace. Whether McQueary would be eligible for such protection, that's not for me to say. But that's one theory why he remains on the sideline, and Joe Paterno does not. McQueary reported an alleged crime to Paterno nine years ago, and circumstances emanating from that allegation have led us here. If McQueary is fired, the seeds of his dismissal would have been planted in 2002.

2. The Pennsylvania attorney general's office doesn't want to lose McQueary as a cooperative witness, should the AG decide to pursue legal charges against Paterno for not doing enough in 2002, and the AG's office has asked the school not to alienate McQueary by firing him. That's my belief, that the attorney general wants to leave the door cracked -- just barely cracked, but cracked nonetheless -- toward charges against Paterno. The charges might not stick, might not have a chance of sticking, but that wouldn't be the point. The AG's point would be: Let's send a message to everyone in this state that sex crimes must be reported, and not just to a supervisor but to the police.

That's what I believe. I believe Penn State is doing whatever it can to help the attorney general, up to and including the makeup of its coaching staff for Saturday's game. That's a crazy thought, but this is a crazy situation. It's an unfathomable allegation -- a possible child molester, once one of the most respected men in town and the heir apparent to Joe Paterno's throne at Penn State, running amok in State College. It's insane.

So is the idea Mike McQueary will coach on Saturday. It's unsightly to the eyes, inappropriate to common decency, disrespectful to Sandusky's alleged victims. It's insane that Penn State receivers coach Mike McQueary would coach Saturday, unless there's a lot more going on here than concern for Penn State's receivers.

And I hope to God there is more going on than that.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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