Posted on: February 22, 2012 6:35 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 6:45 am

Please keep talking, Gordon Gee

Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says the NCAA had no precedent for giving Ohio State a bowl ban -- and for a change, Gordon Gee is right.

Has a school ever been busted because its head coach knew about violations by the team's best three or four players, didn't report those violations, then built a BCS-bowl season around those three or four illegally eligible players?

Has that ever happened?

No. It has not.

So E. Gordon Gee is right when he says, and I quote, "I'm a lawyer. I take a look at precedent. There's no precedent for a bowl ban for us."

So true, E. Gordon. No precedent for any of this.

I bet you were one dandy of a lawyer.

Next, try public speaking. You're the best I've ever seen at it.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:16 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:42 am

What's with the misguided anger, Penn State?

Penn State people are mad, no furious, with the reported hire of Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as the man who would replace The Man. Which means Penn State fans just don't get it.

And look, PSU people, I'm not mocking you. Not taunting you. Not enjoying your anger or frustration. You're going to see plenty of those people in the next few days, media people and otherwise, people who were so shaken by the Sandusky scandal that they take it out on anything and everything representing Penn State. And I understand their rage, I really do. But I'm not one of them, so don't miss what I'm writing here.

I'm trying to help. Honest. And what occurs to me, from my point on the periphery, is that there are people at Penn State -- even a truly intelligent insider like ex-PSU linebacker LaVar Arrington -- who are so close to the situation that they can't see it for what it is.

And what it is, for Penn State, is impossible.

The administration had no chance to win the press conference, as it's called when the new coach is introduced to acclaim. Whoever that guy is, he wasn't coming to Penn State. Not so soon after ... Sandusky.

It just wasn't going to happen.

The initial hint came way back in November when Joe Paterno was forced out, and the first name to surface was Mike London of Virginia. That's a humble name, Mike London of Virginia. Career record at UVa: 12-13. Four years total as a head coach, the first two at Richmond. And when London was connected to Penn State by media reports, he backtracked as if Penn State was something he almost stepped in.

That was our sign. That was your sign, Penn State fans: This job wasn't going to be filled easily, and as the following two months showed, it wasn't filled easily. Penn State alums didn't want it. Outsiders didn't want it.

Meanwhile, the Penn State administration was trying to conduct its coaching search in privacy, even secrecy, because there was no way the school was going to hire someone with a great resume if that hiring was leaked before it became official. So Penn State did what it could on the down low, and for that Penn State people are mad. I've been getting tweets all morning like this one from a Penn State fan lamenting the "secrecy and arrogance" of the search.

As if there's any other kind, these days.

There are Penn State supporters, LaVar Arrington among them, who insist the job should have gone to interim coach Tom Bradley. And that underscores my earlier point, about some people being too close to the situation to see it clearly.

Tom Bradley was never going to get this job. It would have been outrageous if he had gotten it. And that's not a shot at Tom Bradley, who gets high marks from every media person I've ever talked to about him. But he spent years on staff with Sandusky, and was on staff when this story exploded, and was even the face of the program for the month after the explosion.

That guy can't be given the job on a permanent basis. Not if this school is sincere in its desire -- and the administration sure seems to be sincere -- to put behind it one of the ugliest stories in college football history.

It couldn't be Bradley. It wouldn't be Mike Munchak. Even the sub-.500 coach at a basketball school in the ACC wouldn't touch it.

Other than Bill O'Brien, who was Penn State going to get?

Nobody, that's who. The complaining today from Penn State people is as misguided a reaction as the riot by students the night of Paterno's firing. It's anger for the sake of anger, but it's aimed in the wrong place. Sandusky should be the target. Sandusky, and those who didn't do nearly enough to stop his alleged reign of terror.

This is not Penn State President Rodney Erickson's fault.

This is not Bill O'Brien's fault.

Want to be mad, Penn State? Get mad at Sandusky. Get mad at former president Graham Spanier and former athletics director Tim Curley. Hell, get mad at Joe Paterno.

But if Bill O'Brien truly is your next coach, get behind him, and do it now. You are ... Penn State. Remember?

Time to act like it.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:40 am

Gene Smith sabotages Urban Meyer, keeps job

When Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith pulled Urban Meyer out of a hat, I thought he had saved his job. More to the point, I thought he should have saved his job. That was a huge hire, the perfect hire, and for being able to pull off that coup, Smith deserved to stay.

Until Tuesday.

And now I'm back to where I've been for the last year, wondering how the hell Gene Smith still has a job.

Other than the Meyer hire, Smith has shown the kind of incompetence that gets a guy fired in almost every other walk of life. If he was a football coach, he'd be Cam Cameron (NFL career record of 1-15, meaning he did win a game once). If he was a cook, he got the salad right but he burned the main course ... and the restaurant.

Never mind the incompetence, the inability to gauge a situation and respond correctly, after Smith learned Jim Tressel had lied to him and jeopardized the school's good name by playing Terrelle Pryor and others after those players had clearly broken NCAA rules. Smith's reaction was to stand by Tressel until someone else -- the NCAA, the school president, the board of trustees, someone -- made it clear to him that Tressel had to go.

That was so bad, I thought Smith should be fired. And I wrote as much.

Then he hired Meyer, a job-saving hire. As I wrote.

But now this. This miscalculation of NCAA penalties. This crazy, ridiculous, indefensible theory of his that the NCAA wouldn't give his football program a postseason ban for Tressel's enormous ethical lapse. That theory, which existed in Smith's mind and -- I assure you -- almost nowhere else, explains why the Buckeyes are playing in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2.

Because Gene Smith didn't think he should sacrifice the bowl game of this lost season to save a bowl game for next season. He didn't think he needed to. Gene, next time your phone rings, I can assure you this: It's not Mensa.

Smith was wrong about the severity of the NCAA violations, but it's more than being wrong: He was stupid. What Tressel allowed under his watch was worse, I'd argue, than the latest scandal at Southern California. Pete Carroll didn't catch a cheater, no, but Tressel caught one ... and let him play anyway.

And still, after the Trojans were hit with a postseason ban, Gene Smith thought the Buckeyes wouldn't be?

Thanks to his boss's misjudgment, Urban Meyer has to start his career with a postseason ban hanging over his first season, undercutting his first recruiting class.

If I'm running Ohio State, I'm firing Gene Smith today. But I'm not running Ohio State. E. Gordon Gee is, and that dude told the Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday, after the sanctions came down, "I have been a consistent supporter of Gene and remain so."

Then you should go too, E.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:21 pm

Heisman has to be RG3 -- but I'm skeptical

Right about now, I'm a lot like or Taboo or Fergie. OK, you're right. I'm nothing like any of them.

Because I got a feeling ...

... that Saturday night's not gonna be a good night.

This is about the Heisman ceremony on Saturday night, a trophy that Baylor's Robert Griffin III should win easily. And that's what some are projecting, including's Dennis Dodd, whose straw poll of 23 voters shows RG3 winning huge.

Still, I got a feeling ...

First, it's all those ESPN guys saying Griffin might not, or even won't, win the thing. A few days ago Craig James said this on national television: "I don't think [Griffin] has a chance of winning."

We all know Craig James is a clown of the highest order, but that's either the dumbest thing that has ever come out of his mouth (wow), or he's onto something scary. Kirk Herbstreit is no clown -- plus the man's damn good-looking -- but in the last few days he said something straight out of the Pony Playbook: "[Griffin] is from Baylor. He's not going to win the Heisman."

And then this morning, on the Mike and Mike show on ESPN Radio -- yeah, I listen to Mike and Mike -- Mel Kiper said he wasn't sure Griffin would win the Heisman.

That's three different prominent media guys -- and maybe even three Heisman voters -- who are rebutting what everyone else seems to be saying, that RG3 is going to win the Heisman in a runaway.

Which has me thinking.

What if all these voters being polled -- by sites like and -- have been lying to pollsters out of outright embarrassment? Because while it has become nationally accepted in recent days that RG3 should win the Heisman, it wasn't so obvious a week ago.

And lots of Heisman voters sent in their vote early.

So many  voted early that the Downtown Athletic Club sent out a mass "thank you" last week -- before the last major weekend of games -- to all those who did so. All those premature tabulations (shaddup) missed RG3's signature game, a demolition of Texas in which Griffin threw for 320 yards, ran for 32 yards, and compiled four touchdowns. After that game it was apparent to most reasonable college football fans that Griffin (3,998 yards passing, 644 rushing, 45 total touchdowns, six interceptions, the single-season NCAA record for pass efficiency) is the best player in the country.

But what about all those people who voted early?

And what about those lazy voters who decided months ago that the 2011 Heisman was 2010 runner-up Andrew Luck's to lose -- and seeing how he played well this season, he'd done nothing to lose it?

Just saying. Hope I'm wrong, but I got a feeling ...

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 28, 2011 8:27 am

Meyer to the Buckeyes

Urban Meyer has come out of retirement again to become the football coach at Ohio State, opening himself to mocking by most of the country -- but assuring that Ohio State will make a quick return to national power.

Meyer is that good.

And his story, of course, is that bizarre.

After retiring from Florida in 2009 for a whole day, then retiring again in 2010 for a whole year -- to be with family, he said -- Meyer is back on the sideline according to his most recent employer, ESPN, which reported the deal to be worth $40 million over seven years.

Seven years, $40 million ... sound familiar? It should. Those were the reported terms of this hire a week ago, when Meyer said he hadn't spoken to Ohio State and that no offer had been made. Of course he was using semantics, which will get him crushed today, just as his "retirement for family" will get him crushed today.

Those are valid points, but do not miss the bigger picture: Urban Meyer is a damn good football coach. Ohio State is a damn good football program. Together, they will do special things.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 16, 2011 11:25 am
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:56 pm

There are survivors among you.

It has been my horror to write about the Jerry Sandusky allegations, and it will continue to be my horror. I don't like it. I'm not enjoying it. I wish this story never happened.

I also wish the following emails never happened. Well, to be more clear, I wish the events in the following emails never happened. But I applaud these three readers -- one I know from Twitter, two I don't -- for having the courage to share their stories with me.

The fact that they're strong enough, all these years later, to write what they wrote me? That gives me hope. So thank you, Ryan. And thank you, Patrick. And thank you, Wayne. You know who you are.

From: Ryan
Gregg, As a former victim of molestation while I was a child, I'd like to thank you for sticking up for the victims in this case. Paterno is not a hero, he's a coward that put his career and position above the safety of children. He needed to be fired and now hopefully sued by the victims for not doing more for those kids. Keep fighting and writing for these kids. Trust me, they need it.

Ryan, I like to think of myself as a tough guy, but that's a joke. You're the tough guy. Thanks for writing ... Gregg

From: Patrick
I'm from a small town with a terrible football team, so I've always kind of liked Penn State just because of Joe Pa and his values. He's someone that, through the media, I've learned to care about and admire. I was molested between the ages of 7 to 13 by a next-door neighbor. This scandal hurts so deep and brings so many terrible memories, so long suppressed, to the surface. One of my heroes allowed numerous young boys to be allegedly molested, just like me, and now they have to go through life feeling sexually removed, unloved, and afraid. One of my heroes morphed into everything I hate about my life.

I'm so sorry for what you've gone through -- and are still going through. You've probably heard this a million times, but hear it once more, Patrick: What happened to you was not your fault ... Gregg

From: Wayne
It was so cathartic to read your post from the gas station parking lot about putting the scandal in your rear view. When I was 8, an older boy took advantage of me and coerced me to try oral sex. It didn't feel right and I couldn't go all the way while he went further, but nevertheless, the damage was done. As they should be, the victims are the primary focus and will never be the same from that point forward, as I have not since either, but outsiders are impacted too; especially parents such as yourself. I appreciate your article in the authenticity of it and audacity to put it out there. Those who want to lambaste you for thinking of yourself haven't fully appreciated the impact of being in that cesspool of sh-t or knowing people who have gone through something like that. It wasn't until I found Jesus after high school that I could begin to heal, but still, the road is difficult. Thanks for covering the story in its entirety and with passion.

You stay on that road, Wayne. Thank you for sharing, and overcoming ... Gregg

Update, 5 p.m. Another note just came in from another reader. Heartbreaking, yet uplifting:

From: Kim
I just glanced at your blog and read about the survivors and I want to echo what they have said. Thank you for covering this story in the manner in which you have. You have given all survivors a voice in the media. Much like the 10 year old in shower, someone walked in while our next door neighbor was in the process of raping me, he also turned his back and walked out on me, leaving me there alone with that sick man. I was six. I lost my innocence twice that day. This whole scandal has brought back some many feelings and emotions for me and seeing those students rioting at Penn State over the firing of Paterno made me sick to my stomach. Thank you for being my voice.

Thank you for being so strong ... Gregg

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 14, 2011 6:43 am

Leaving Sandusky, Pennsylvania

CLAYSVILLE, Pa. -- This isn't for you. Feel free to read it, but I'm not writing for you. I'm writing for me, because I'm trying to get Jerry Sandusky out of my head, and maybe this will help.

Nothing else has helped. The Penn State-Nebraska game on Saturday didn't help. Putting State College in my rear-view mirror after that game didn't help. Checking into a hotel an hour down the road Saturday night and watching something other than college football didn't help. Reading? I read the twisted fiction of James Patterson. That didn't help.

Driving home didn't help. In fact, I'm not home yet. Tried to get there, but couldn't stop thinking about Sandusky, so I pulled off Interstate 70. I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon from a gas station parking lot in, let's see, Claysville. So let me go put that in the dateline real quick. All capital letters. OK, there it is. Dateline: CLAYSVILLE, Pa.

That didn't help.

What I need is the psychological equivalent of a sorbet, something to cleanse my mental palate from the gruel I've been feeding it. But that analogy doesn't feel appropriate. Nothing feels appropriate.

A sorbet? I don't need a sorbet. What I need is a lobotomy or a quick case of amnesia. I need to take out my brain -- like Ray Gricar, the district attorney who didn't prosecute Jerry Sandusky in 1998, did with the hard drive of his computer -- and damage it so badly that it won't be able to recall what it's seen and where it's been.

Because what I need is to forget everything I saw over the past week. As it is, I can't get Jerry Sandusky's grinning face out of my head. You've seen the picture, I'm sure, of him and Joe Paterno at a stadium in the late 1990s, the glare turning Paterno's prescription glasses into sunshades, Sandusky grinning into the distance like a hyena. What is he looking at that moment? What is Jerry Sandusky thinking? I don't want to know, but I can't stop wondering.

I want to forget the sight of Sandusky's house in State College, a peaceful, beautiful house at the end of a cul-de-sac, a home and a neighborhood unworthy of someone guilty of the crimes facing Sandusky. I don't even want to write the words for those crimes. Not again. You know what they are.

Me, I can't stop picturing one of the street signs near Sandusky's house, a sign that has the gall to read, "WATCH CHILDREN."

Watch children? Are you kidding me? That can't be the sign down the street from an accused child molester's house. In the last few days, somebody took out one of Sandusky's front windows with a cinder block. That's not the right way to act, but it would be right as rain for the city of State College to remove that sign -- WATCH CHILDREN -- from the neighborhood of Jerry Sandusky.

I feel nauseous.

I've been a wreck, and I know -- I know -- this isn't about me. I've tried to share some of my emotions from the past week on Twitter, and a few of your responses were along the lines of, "Get over yourself. This isn't about you."

Well no s---. I've been in State College, staring at Sandusky's house and reading the accounts of what he has been accused of doing and driving by The Second Mile, Sandusky's foundation for at-risk children that allegedly was his hunting ground for victims. And I've been in tears. The Penn State journalism students in Room 206 of the Carnegie Building saw that. I broke down twice in front of those kids on Friday. Maybe three times. The whole week was a blur, and Lord knows I wasn't the only sportswriter affected. Lots of us were walking around State College in a fog. This can't be real, said the look on lots of media faces.

Anyway, not about me. Got it. But it has taken a toll on me, just as it has taken a toll on anyone who was in town last week. The toll this has taken on the victims, if the charges are true? I can't imagine that toll, but I'll tell you this: As I've been driving on Interstate 70 today through southern Pennsylvania, trying to get home, I've seen several deer on the side of the road. I see those once-beautiful deer, lying there innocently and eternally damaged, and I think of the victims. Beautiful. Innocent. Eternally damaged.

Those have been my thoughts. My dreams? You don't want to know. They've been nightmares, and nothing I'm going to share with you. In a few days I'm supposed to share something else with you, topic to be determined. My next writing slot is Wednesday, when I'm supposed to file a column on something in the sports world. I don't think I can do it. I'm not ready to write on anything else, but I'm sick of writing about Jerry Sandusky.

In fact, I'm sick of writing this. I'm done. Time to get back on the road to wherever I'm going. Time to get away from where I've been.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:37 pm

Tom Bradley gets his dream job. For now.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- This is the job Tom Bradley always wanted, but he didn't want it like this. And he won't keep it like this, either. This job he has, head football coach at Penn State? It's a temporary tag, and it's never going to become permanent.

Add Bradley to the pile of collateral damage in the Jerry Sandusky scandal that has cost an untold number of alleged victims their emotional well-being, and has cost four of the most powerful men on campus -- coach Joe Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletics director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schwartz -- their job.

And it will cost Tom Bradley his job, too. Maybe he comes back next season as an assistant coach, maybe not. That will be up to the next head coach, whoever it is -- but it won't be Tom Bradley. He's the interim coach, but that's all he is. That's all he ever will be. Tom Bradley hit his career peak on Thursday, even as he plumbed the depths of personal lows.

"'I take this job with very mixed emotions," Bradley said Thursday morning at Beaver Stadium, where he will lead the Nittany Lions into their home finale Saturday against Nebraska. Bradley also will coach Penn State in its final two regular-season games of the season, at Ohio State and Wisconsin, and in whatever bowl game Penn State appears, assuming the school chooses to appear in one.

After that, though, Tom Bradley is out. He doesn't seem to know that, and he definitely didn't say that on Thursday. Asked if he had been given any indication by school officials that he was a candidate for the position on a permanent basis, Bradley said that topic hadn't come up. And I believe him.

I also believe it will never come up, because Penn State is in housecleaning mode -- and you don't fire the head housekeeper to promote the chimneysweep. Paterno is gone. The president is gone. The AD. A vice president. And soon that wave will sweep the remnants of Paterno's coaching staff out the door as well.

It's doubtful the next coach, whoever he is, would retain a single member of this current staff -- but if one man is retained, it would be Tom Bradley. He is that highly regarded in all circles, whether by coaches or fans or even the media. Full disclosure: The media loves Tom Bradley, and after spending 25 minutes at his initial press conference on Thursday, I see why. He pulls no punches, tells no lies. If he can't answer a question, he tells you he can't answer it. If he can, he does.

Asked if he'd slept in four days, Bradley blurted out, "Do I look that bad?"

Asked a general question about a coach's responsibility to protect children from the kind of atrocities that Sandusky was allegedly allowed to continue from 2002 to 2011, Bradley didn't back down.

"We all have a responsibility to take care of our children," he said. "All of us."

That answer seemed to undercut Joe Paterno, yet Bradley made it clear Thursday he holds only one man in higher regard.

"Coach Paterno has meant more to me than anybody but my father," Bradley said. At that he became emotional, so he stopped talking. Next question.

Another question came about Paterno, and another, and another, and Bradley answered them like so:

"He will go down in history as one of the greatest men, and coaches," Bradley said.

"He has had a dynamic impact on so many, so many -- I'll say it again -- so many people and players' lives," Bradley said.

Bradley loves Joe Paterno. He also loves Penn State, playing here as a defensive back from 1975-78 and coaching here ever since. Once upon a time, Jerry Sandusky was the most respected assistant on staff -- scary, huh? -- but when Sandusky retired in 1999 to pursue his other interests, Bradley replaced him as defensive coordinator and as the man most likely to replace Paterno, assuming the replacement would come from within.

And assuming Paterno would ever retire.

Well, Paterno's gone. He didn't retire -- he was fired late Wednesday night. And Tom Bradley has replaced him, but not for long. Just for three games, maybe four, and then Bradley will leave the only school he has ever worked.

It's not one of the bigger tragedies of this story. It's not, in comparison, a tragedy at all.

But it's a sad turn of events nonetheless.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or