Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Hail Mary Pass

There is a way to separate the Penn State football program from the child-abuse sex scandal: name a new coach now.

Hail Mary Pass

This is about football and only football.

This is about a bold move to separate the legendary Penn State football program from Penn State's horrible child-abuse sex scandal described by the state Attorney General as an "active" and "ongoing" investigation.

As legal proceedings on criminal charges filed against former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky, the athletic director and a senior vice president at the university move forward, this is about moving the spotlight away from the team.

Remember, for many throughout Pennsylvania, Penn State IS football. So here's the plan to save it.

It's not my idea but it makes sense. It comes from a graduate and 50-year season ticket holder who loves Penn State and is crushed by the scandal.

He says replace Joe Paterno now, this week, with former Florida coach Urban Meyer.

The extent of Paterno's actual coaching is suspect anyway. Meyer, who won two national championships at Florida, has been rumored as Paterno's replacement when the soon-to-be 85-year old Joe's contract expires at the end of this season. And there are published reports of rumors that Meyer has bought property a few miles from the Penn State campus.

The move would be timely because of recruitment. Many top recruits decide between now and Feb. 1, the deadline for signing letters of intent. There are reports on PSU blogs that some top recruits are having second thoughts about PSU or even outright backing away.

Meyer, who is only 47, could settle things down, offer continuity and restoration.

This might be fantasy football thinking. The damaged Ohio State program, for example, also is said to be after Meyer. But it also could be the best way to start to get the scandal off the football field.

Paterno's weekly football news conference today should prove interesting. The PSU board of directors meeting Friday should prove interesting. The distractions facing the team and coaching staff preparing to play higher-ranked Nebraska at home on Saturday must be imposing.

But making a coaching move right now in the interest of current and future players would be a Hail Mary pass that just might work in Penn State's favor.



John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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