Joe Posnanski talks Paterno at Penn State

Joe Posnanski acknowledged the criticism surrounding his 388-page biography of Joe Paterno, but the author insisted he wrote the best book he could given the circumstances.

Posnanski spoke for a little more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Alumni Hall, a largue open auditorium at Penn State's student center. The event, moderated by Malcolm Moran, the Knight in Chair at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, was Posnanski's only area appearance.

Posnanski touched on a variety of topics, reiterating the same points he's made at various appearances, including an event at the Free Library of Philadelphia last week.

Paterno was released Aug. 21 and debuted as No. 1 on the New York Times' bestseller list.

"It wasn't ever, even at the beginning, going to be a love letter to Joe Paterno," Posnanski told a crowd of about 350.

The group consisted of Penn State students, faculty and members of the State College community. They were generally receptive and respectful, and at times laughed when Posnanski told a joke.

Posnanski lamented on the negative press his book received -- even before it hit bookshelves.

Posnanski recalled a scathing New York Times feature on his project, which ran three weeks before the book was released.

"They called it the worst-timed book in the history of the world," Posnanski said to chuckles from the crowd.

The author delved in to a bit of his reporting, including the unprecedented access the Paterno family granted him. Paterno recalled a leather messenger bag that Sue Paterno gave him -- upon Joe's wishes -- when the coach was in the hospital.

The bag was heavy, filled with hundreds of notes and files -- everything from speeches to game plans to a handwritten note from UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

Posnanski got a tad emotional when he discussed the Freeh report. The author has publicly questioned aspects of the report, specifically the fact that many key players were not interviewed.

"It's like doing a comprehensive book on the Beatles without talking to the Beatles," Posnanski said, adding that he is bothered that it has become the ultimate last word about the scandal.

When asked about the timing of the book, Posnanski said there were two reasons it was released when it was. First, Paterno died. It was a story about Paterno's life and he was no longer living.

Second, because "nobody waited."

“The Freeh report didn’t wait. People wrote and talked on television,” Posnanski said. “Nobody waits. None of these people wait. It seems to me that when the question gets asked only to the person who actually talked to Joe Paterno that it feels like the question is a little bit turned on its side.”

Posnanski said he sees another great book about the nine months between Paterno's firing and the NCAA sanctions.

"I don't want to write it, though," Posnaski said, adding he wants his next book to be something "easier."

-Emily Kaplan