The Coaching Question

There's an interesting time-line question regarding accused pedophile and former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

It's one that at least suggests other coaches knew there was something inappropriate about Sandusky way back in 1999.

I tend to fall into the category of those who believe plenty of people knew of Sandusky's behavior, now alleged to be criminal, for years before it exploded onto the national scene.

His time-line is part of the reason I believe that.

Sandusky was a PSU grad assistant in 1967 and assistant coach from 1969 to 1999. He was nationally recognized as a premier defensive coordinator who twice won the American Football Coaches Association "Assistant Coach-of-the-Year" award. He was long believed to be Joe Paterno's ultimate successor.

When he announced at the start of `99 season that it would be his last it was thought that (a) Paterno told him he would not be the next PSU coach and/or (b) Sandusky wanted to spend more time working on his Second Mile charity.

But remember, Sandusky was investigated in 1998 for alleged inapproriate behavior with a boy in a shower, an investigation that included two local detectives hiding in the home of the boy who said they heard Sandusky confess to the boy's mother and ask for foregiveness. No charges were brought and no one seems to know why.

My question is this: Why would a top-tier coach with a national reputation spark so little interest from other major football programs after leaving the PSU program -- at only age 55?

He was recruited earlier by Temple (1988) and twice by Maryland (1991 and 1996). But the only reported interest after he resigned came from the University of Virginia in 2000, and talks about him taking the top job there were described as having "reached an impasse."

It is, of course, entirely possible he wasn't interested in coaching again. But it's also possible that after 1998 investigation he was (a) asked to resign and (b) told that if he tried to go somewhere else top PSU folks would say why they wouldn't recommend him.

Those even more cynical than I suggest Sandusky survived so long and was protected by PSU because he knew things about the football program that would tarnish its nearly pristine image.

And I know my suggestion that Sandusky was kept close to prevent the explosion that eventually occured is cynical as well.

But, hey, as the late H.L. Mencken said, "The cynics are right nine times out of 10."