The dynamite investigative arm of ESPN known as “Outside The Lines” is trained on a new target:
Penn State head coach and college football icon Joe Paterno and his Penn State program will be the subject of an upcoming report.
Which means I look forward to hearing that Paterno isn’t 81 years old, but 83!
OK, we kid.
But here’s a primer on OTL’s foray into State College - from the Bill Kline blog, NITTANY LINES:
The gist of the story, [Penn State football beat writer Mark Wogenrich] says, is whether Penn State is taking more “marginal” character players, and whether JoePa still holds the disciplinary influence he once did. In other words, do players still “fear” old Joe?
Mark says ESPN has spoken with people involved in the off-campus apartment fight in April 2007 and is finding that the incident involving Chris Bell (in which the dismissed receiver allegedly pulled a knife on another player earlier this year) made an impression on university officials and at least one trustee.
Mark has done the math, which shows that eight different Nittany Lions received a total of 11 felony charges stemming from the two fights in April and October 2007. None of those felony charges reached trial; they either were dropped, thrown out of court or reduced.
ESPN, whose E:60 ambush of Miguel Tejada has fortified the reputation of their TV news magazines as sultans of smear, may hasten the demise of arguably college football’s most legendary active coach. Though such a deconstruction might be welcomed by the Penn State trusteees, who are eager to find an exit strategy for the Paterno era.
For all that Paterno has been through, the ESPN report is likely just another speed bump on the road to nowhere for current version of the Paterno-led Nittany Lions, which suits the rest of the Big 10 just fine.