Bob Costas Doubts Paterno Involved in Cover Up


Emmy Award-winning NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said Wednesday concerning the  ongoing investigation of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State sex scandal, “I don’t buy  the idea that [late head coach Joe Paterno] was actively involved in a  cover-up.”

“There’s a grand jury proceeding that just said there’s enough evidence to  take it to trial, which was no surprise to anybody,” Costas replied. “Spanier,  Curley, and Schultz, the administrators, who will go on trial.”

“But the main figure to the average person,” he continued, “the main figure  is still, other than Sandusky himself, Joe Paterno, who has since passed away.  And I really think that there is now some legitimate doubt.”

“I don’t know where the truth is,” Costas added, “but there’s some  legitimate doubt about the extent of Paterno’s involvement. The pat storyline  became, everybody, Paterno included, knew pretty much what Sandusky was up to.  And they all kind of conspired to cover it up to protect the image of the  football program at Penn State.”

“And you don’t think that’s true?” Leno asked.

“I  think that Paterno was negligent,” answered Costas. “I think he should have  recognized what was going on because the warning signals were there. But, having  read the Freeh report, and then having read some of what’s been put out to  refute it, I don’t buy the idea that he was actively involved in a  cover-up.”

 

 

More Than 300 Former Penn State Players, Coaches Support Challenge to NCAA


More than 325 former Penn State football players have joined in support of a recent lawsuit filed against the NCAA.

The Paterno family, members of Penn State’s board of trustees and faculty and former players and coaches filed their suit last month alleging unlawful conduct by the NCAA in sanctioning the athletic department.

The suit seeks to overturn last July’s sanctions, calling the NCAA’s actions an “improper interference in and gross mishandling of a criminal matter that falls far outside the scope of their authority.”

Joe Paterno and the entire Penn State football program have been used as scapegoats in this horrible tragedy,” Masella said in a statement. “When the NCAA neglected to conduct their own investigation, and used the flawed Freeh Report as the judge and jury, they further prevented an opportunity to get to the real truth, and in turn, punished a generation ofPenn State players, students, and supporters who had nothing whatsoever to do with Jerry Sandusky.”

The following players and coaches support the May 30 lawsuit challenging the NCAA sanctions against Penn State.

1950’s
•  Robert Belus
•  Frank Della Penna
•  Charles Chick King
•  Ron Markiewicz
•  Fran “Bucky” Paolone
•  Don Ryan
•  John Jack Urban
1960s
•  Dick Anderson
•  Steve Bezna
•  Bob Capretto
•  Jack Curry
•  Alan Delmonaco
•  Gerry Farkas
•  Chuck Franzetta
•  Ed Gabirel
•  Tony Gebicki
•  James Graham
•  Warren Hartenstine
•  Michael Irwin
•  Robert Kline
•  George Kulka
•  John Kulka
•  Jon Lang
•  Ed Lenda
•  Linc Lincoln Lippincott
•  Jim Litterelle
•  Thomas Mairs
•  James McCormick
•  Thomas McGrath
•  Dave McNaughton
•  Donald Miller
•  Hank Oppermann
•  Bill Rettig
•  Dave Rowe
•  Ted Sebastianelli
•  Gary Shaffer
•  Steve Smear
•  Dave Truitt
•  Frank Waresak
•  Chris Weber
1970s
•  Walt Addie
•  Russell Albert
•  Kurt Allerman
•  Ferris Atty
•  Jeff Behm
•  David Bland
•  Jeff H. Bleamer
•  Jim Bradley
•  Tom Bradley
•  Richard M. Brown
•  Chuck Burkhart
•  John W. Bush
•  Greg Buttle
•  Robert Campbell
•  Michael Cappelletti
•  Richard F. Caravella
•  Joseph V. Carlozo
•  Charles Chiampi
•  Thomas Greg Christian
•  Craig Coder
•  Ron Coder
•  Mike Conforto
•  F. Len Consalvo
•  Bill Crummy
•  Steven A. Davis
•  Chris Devlin
•  Joe Diange
•  Thomas F. Donchez
•  Rocco English
•  Scott Fitzkee
•  Chuck Fusina
•  Paul Gabel
•  Steve Geise
•  Doneal Gersh
•  Bill Glennon
•  Tony Gordon
•  David F. Graf
•  Mike Guman
•  Brian Hand
•  Franco Harris
•  Scott Hettinger
•  Ron Hileman
•  Ron Hostetler
•  Thomas M. Hull
•  Neil Hutton
•  David W. Klock
•  Bob Knechtel
•  Richard A. Knechtel
•  Joe Lally
•  Philip F. LaPorta
•  John R. Lewchenko
•  Larry J. Ludwig
•  Mark J. Markovich
•  Brian Masella
•  Rich Mauti
•  Richard McClure
•  Lance Mehl
•  D. Scott Mitchell
•  Guy Montecalvo
•  Robert Nagle
•  Daniel F. Natale
•  Richard N. Nichols
•  Thomas Odell
•  Michael A. Orsini M.D.
•  Woody Petchel, Jr.
•  Carlos Quirch
•  Tom Rafferty
•  Joel Ramich
•  John M. Reihner
•  Paul Renaud
•  Robert Rickenbach
•  James E. Rosecrans
•  George SanFilippo
•  Carl Schaukowitch
•  Bernard Shalvey
•  Tom L. Shoemaker
•  Micky Shuler Sr
•  Tom Shuman
•  John Skorupan
•  Steven E. Stilley
•  Donald P. Tarosky
•  Raymond Tesner
•  Gary R. Tyler
•  Alberto Vitiello
•  Marshall Wagner
•  Dan Wallace
•  Alex Wasilov
•  Franklin Frog Williams
•  John Williams
•  Thomas J. Williams
•  Charles Wilson
1980s
•  Roger Alexander
•  Michael Arnold
•  Walker Lee Ashley
•  Mark Battaglia
•  Trey Bauer
•  Jeff Bergstrom
•  Todd Blackledge
•  Scott Bouslough
•  Kirk Bowman
•  Don Brinsky
•  Tim Bronish
•  Keith Brown
•  Jeff Brunie
•  Jeff Butya
•  Drew Bycoskie
•  Mark Cherewka
•  Chris Clauss
•  Joel Coles
•  Bill Contz
•  Tom Couch
•  Troy Cromwell
•  Peter Curkendall
•  Rich D’Amico
•  John DePasqua
•  Dwayne Downing
•  Michael Dunlay
•  Thomas Durant
•  Eric Etze
•  Craig Fiedler
•  Tim Freeman
•  Mark Fruehan
•  Brennan Gaertner
•  Mark Galimberti
•  Mike Garrett
•  Gene Gladys
•  Scott Gob
•  Nick Haden
•  Lance Hamilton
•  Albert Harris
•  Greg Hay
•  Stu Helgeson
•  Joseph Hines
•  John Hornyak
•  Randy Huttenberger
•  Timothy Janocko
•  Joe Johns
•  Eddie Johnson
•  Greg Jones
•  Keith Karpinski
•  Ken Kelley
•  Matt Knizner
•  Rich Kuzy
•  Massimo Manca
•  Kirk Martin
•  Carmen Masciantonio
•  Brian McCann
•  Matt McCartin
•  Donald Jay McCormick
•  Shawn McNamara
•  Mike Meade
•  Rob Mikulski
•  Dan Morgan
•  Bob Ontko
•  Aoatoa Polamalu
•  Bobby Polito
•  Ed Pryts
•  Scott Radecic
•  Terry Rakowski
•  Kevin Romango
•  Dwayne Rush
•  Michael Russo
•  Rich Schonewolf
•  John Shaffer
•  Brian Siverling
•  Patrick Slater
•  Rob Smith
•  Pete Speros
•  Joseph Strycharz
•  Mike Suter
•  Tim Sweeney
•  John Walsh
•  Darryl Washington
•  Steve Wisniewski
•  Jeff Woofter
1990s
•  Jeff Anderson
•  John Andress
•  Steve Babinchak
•  Michael Barninger
•  Tom Bill
•  Dave Brzenchek
•  Mike Carroll
•  Robert Ceh
•  Kerry Collins
•  Brett Conway
•  Bob Daman
•  Maurice Daniels
•  Daniel Drogan
•  Adam Fahrer
•  Douglas Farren
•  Gerald Filardi
•  Derek Fox
•  Reggie Givens
•  Rudolph Glocker
•  Ryan Grube
•  Shelly Hammonds
•  Jeff Hartings
•  Leonard Humphries
•  Greg Huntington
•  Chad Linnon
•  Rob Luedeke
•  Mike Malinoski
•  Joe Markiewicz
•  Christian Marrone
•  Tony Matesic
•  OJ McDuffie
•  Tom Molnar
•  Joe Nastasi
•  Kevin O’Keefe
•  Brian O’Neal
•  Brandon Palmer
•  Ryan Seese
•  Brandon Short
•  Dave Smith
•  Terry Smith
•  Vincent Stewart
2000s
•  Lance Antolick
•  Jason Bisson
•  Mike Blosser
•  Jeremy Boone
•  James Boyd
•  Brian Brozeski
•  Dorian Burton
•  Gino Capone
•  Daryll Clark
•  Brennan Coakley
•  Dan Corrado
•  Jeremiah Davis
•  Steven Delich
•  Larry Federoff
•  Gus Felder
•  Shamar Finney
•  Eric Flohr
•  Joshua Gaines
•  Phil Gardill
•  Nathan Glunt
•  Ryan Gmerek
•  Tom Golarz
•  Andrew Guman
•  Benjamin Gummo
•  Joe Hartings
•  Erik Holt
•  Tom Humphrey
•  Justin Ingram
•  Joe Iorio
•  Cedric Jeffries
•  Bryant Johnson
•  Michael Johnson
•  Bobby Jones
•  Jim Kanuch
•  Brad Karson
•  Ben Lago
•  Kevion Latham
•  Tyler Lenda
•  Mike Lukac
•  Jordan Lyons
•  Nick Marmo
•  Shawn Mayer
•  Anthony Morelli
•  Jordan Norwood
•  Anwar Phillips
•  Andrew Pitz
•  Paul Posluszny
•  Curt Reese
•  Matthew Rice
•  David Royer
•  Bryan Scott
•  Ryan Scott
•  AQ Shipley
•  Mickey Shuler
•  Jonathan Stewart
•  Nick Sukay
•  Tyler Valoczki
•  Casey Williams
•  Thomas Williams
•  Michael Yancich
•  Alan Zemaitis
Coaches and staff
•  Dick Anderson
•  John Bove
•  Booker Brooks
•  Craig Cirbus
•  Don Carlino
•  Raymond J. Horan
•  George Salvaterra

Editorial Comment–“We are Penn State, and we want the truth.  We are standing behind our traditions, values, and motto of Success with Honor–Joe Paterno’s “Grand Experiement”  that now graduates more Division 1 Football players than any other University!”–Myke Triebold

Under Emmert, NCAA enforcement division has gone from bad to worse


 NCAA insiders cite meddling from president Mark  Emmert as a major reason the enforcement division is in disarray.
AP

In a comprehensive story in this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior  writers Pete Thamel and Alexander Wolff go inside the Nevin Shapiro case at  Miami and explore how the NCAA mishandled it. Here is some additional  information that doesn’t appear in the story. For the complete magazine story  and to buy a digital version of the issue, go here.

On May 11, 2011, all NCAA employees were required to attend a day-long  meeting that began at the ballroom of the J.W. Marriott near NCAA headquarters  in Indianapolis.

When the employees returned to the NCAA’s offices that day, they found  banners featuring corporate buzzwords like communication, accountability and inclusion had replaced banners of famous  athletes and inspirational quotes. The sidewalks and bridge near NCAA  headquarters featured similar messages.

The day marked the grand rollout of One Team One Future, one of NCAA  president Mark Emmert’s internal initiatives to improve the work culture at the  NCAA.

What unfolded epitomizes Emmert’s two-and-a-half-year NCAA tenure — plenty  of flash with little tangible results. When NCAA employees arrived at their  desks that day, their computer screen savers and phone backdrops were adorned  with One Team One Future logos. But they weren’t quite prepared for the  grand rollout, with Emmert’s introduction coming by a voice-of-God narrator amid  a backdrop of music, strobe lights and video.

“It’s the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man, where he goes to that big  inspirational thing,” says former NCAA investigator Abby Grantstein. “The  culture of the NCAA wasn’t like that before, and you can’t change it in one  day.”

She added that the message was clear: “It was like, ‘Get on the bus or go  home.'”

WOLFF: Nevin Shapiro is still talking from jail

SI spoke with more than 20 current or former NCAA employees about the  troubles of the NCAA enforcement staff for a lengthy story in this week’s Sports Illustrated. A portrait emerged of a department battered by  turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal. One ex-enforcement  official told SI, “The time is ripe to cheat. There’s no policing going on.”

In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly  shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as  the “King Of The Press Conference.” That’s not a compliment.

One of the biggest criticisms of Emmert is his desire to be in the spotlight.  (Emmert declined multiple requests to speak with SI for this story. Spokesman  Bob Williams says Emmert’s increased public profile has been at the request of  the NCAA’s Executive Committee.)

Even one of Emmert’s supporters could come up with few positives for One  Team One Future, calling the rollout “mechanical.” The NCAA employee  compared it to an Apple shareholder meeting. “Some of that may have rubbed  people the wrong way,” the person said. “I think it reflects the approach and  style that Emmert brought to the position, whether that’s good or bad, it’s the  reality of it.”

The reality is that NCAA culture needs to change, as it’s entering a time of  great transition. The enforcement staff is fighting the perception that it’s  meek, and many of its most talented investigators have left the association.

When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many  struggled to answer the question, “What has he actually accomplished so far in  his tenure?” Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the  Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40  scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light  after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to  talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.

The NCAA has failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted.  Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying  to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of  school, and paring down the rulebook. But the lack of results have highlighted  the growing schism between haves and have nots in Division I and further  polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how  out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents. There’s been tremendous turnover  in top-level NCAA jobs under Emmert, to the point where many administrators  complain that they don’t even know who to call at the NCAA anymore. And therein  lies the irony of Emmert’s One Team One Future attempt — ideals like  communication, collaboration and inclusion sound great, but they’re missing  among the membership.

“I’m really concerned,” said one high-ranking college administrator. “There’s  a need for a healthy NCAA. It’s not healthy right now.”

Morale is at an all-time low among the enforcement staff as several respected  veterans — Dave Didion (Auburn), Marcus Wilson (Maryland) and Chance Miller  (South Carolina) — have left for college compliance positions since April. On  Tuesday the department received another huge blow when Rachel Newman-Baker, the  managing director for enforcement, development and investigators, left for a  compliance job at Kentucky. Newman-Baker is the highest ranking member of the  department to leave since enforcement vice president Julie Roe Lach was fired in  February in the wake of missteps in the Miami investigation.

“With Rachel gone,” another ex-NCAA staffer said, “there’s really only two  investigators (Angie Cretors and LuAnn Humphrey) left with experience in major  football and basketball cases.”

Last week, interim director of enforcement Jonathan Duncan told SI: “It’s  been a tough time for the enforcement staff.”

One of the driving forces of the enforcement exodus came from seeing how  Emmert’s office handled the Miami debacle. The NCAA knew about the issues  regarding the financial arrangement between Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer and  investigator Ameen Najjar for months, but Emmert’s remarks to the press — “a  shocking affair” — came off as if he’d just been informed that morning and  needed to express his outrage publicly.

Many staffers felt like Lach was the scapegoat, as the 52-page external report shows she directed Najjar’s request  through the proper channels. Jim Isch, the No. 2 behind Emmert at the NCAA, also  knew of the arrangement and offered financial support, but he faced no  repercussions. No logical explanation of that disconnect was provided.

How the NCAA handled Tom Hosty didn’t help either; weeks after Hosty was  demoted from managing director to director of enforcement, Isch informed the  staff of the demotion at a meeting and walked out as jaws dropped to the floor.

“They know if the s— hits the fan, they’re not going to be backed up by  anyone,” said one ex-investigator.

As the NCAA moves forward, the reality of Emmert’s future is tricky. “When  you get to the position Mark is in right now,” said another college  administrator, “it’s how and when you are leaving, not if.”

That’s easy to say, but that pace of change in both academia and in the NCAA  is unbearably slow. As one former staffer said of NCAA business: “You realize  that it takes 100 internal emails for you to get the one e-mail that says  nothing.”

Academia is arguably worse, as the average search for a college president  takes a year. There are few groups of powerful people more collectively risk  averse than college presidents, who when deciding on whether to blow their nose  insist on forming a sub-committee to dissect proper tissue texture. In other  words, getting a group of college presidents together to make a bold move like  firing Emmert is highly unlikely. Emmert could realize he’s in an untenable  position and jump to another job, but that isn’t likely either (he reportedly  makes $1.6 million per year).

It should be noted that Emmert does have supporters, particularly among  Pac-12 presidents, as he came to office from Washington. He helped hire Pac-12  commissioner Larry Scott and counts Oregon State’s Ed Ray among his closest  confidants.

But elsewhere, Emmert’s support is tepid at best. He proved helpless during  realignment, has been overwhelmed by constant scandal and has been unable to get  his reform measures through the muddled NCAA governance structure.

Even worse, public perception of the NCAA under Emmert is at an all-time low.  (This stinging USA Today story that exposed Emmert’s  messy handling of a large-scale construction project while at UConn didn’t help  Emmert’s reputation.) The mass exodus of talented employees speak much louder  than his corporate buzzwords. And that’s something that can’t be changed with  flashy lights or new screen savers.football/news/miami-ncaa/#ixzz2W6TuD0TJ

Bob Costas to Host Show Reexamining Freeh Report


Bob Costas is taking another look at the Freeh Report.

Nittany Nation blogger Frank Bodani is reporting that, to give the report and its assertions a better evaluation, Costas is going to host a TV program on NBC, “a further examination of this issue in a month or two.”

Said Costas, “I said, ‘As the Freeh Report makes clear, Paterno was, in some sense, complicit’” to Sandusky’s abuse of young boys.

“I didn’t say he was part of a cover-up. I wish I would have said, ‘As the Freeh Report asserts,’ rather than, ‘As the Freeh Report makes clear.’”

Costas first reversed direction on the Freeh report a few weeks ago in an interview with radio host Kevin Slaten of KQQZ in St. Louis, but now is the first evidence we’re seeing of a potential TV program to address the issue. When he first commented on the report last July, Costas had only read summaries of the document, and not the entire 267-page report itself. Previously, he had advocated for the so-called “death penalty” for Penn State football for at least a year. He now thinks that the NCAA sanctions in place are undeservedly steep.

In a way similar to the Paterno report’s questioning of Freeh’s investigation, Costas will take aim at Freeh’s conclusions that, according to him, still raise questions of their validity. Costas acknowledged that the report by Thornburgh, Clemente, and Berlin raised legitimate questions about holes in the Freeh Report.

Though Costas says that, nationally, the public may not care enough to reverse its opinion on the issue, having moved on and forgotten, he adds, “I feel I have some responsibility to follow the story.” No other details about the program have yet been released such as an air date, besides that it will air on NBC “in a month or two.”

Panel “Discussion of Paterno Investigation Today


This Says it ALL

This morning(sunday) at 8 am CST or 9 am EST on ESPN “Outside the Line” there will be a panel discussion by the participants in the Paterno family-commissioned study of the Sandusky Scandal.

Also, tomorrow on Katie Courics talk show, Sue will be doing an interview with Katie.

ESPN Analyst Admits Unfair Treatment of Joe Paterno


Although he is a college basketball analyst, Jay Bilas has been one of the many ESPN analysts who has been highly critical of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno since last November.

On Wednesday on Twitter, I noticed a debate going on between Bilas and framingpaterno.com creator John Ziegler on the subject of Paterno and everything else related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

I decided to step in and just throw a question at Bilas.

I tweeted to him, “Jay, do you think the media coverage of Paterno has been fair?”

Surprisingly, he responded to me with this, “Overall, I’d say no. But, he failed to report McQueary info beyond Curley, etc. He should have done more. Others more culpable.”

With a follow up, I tweeted, “Jay, how do you think the media coverage has been unfair towards Paterno?”

Bilas answered with this, “Not all of it, but some was excessive and over the top. Understandable given nature of the story. Tragic in so many ways.”

I’m sure there are many Penn State fans out there that agree with Bilas about Paterno being treated unfairly by the media since the Sandusky story broke. However, to hear it from an employee of a company that led the charge against Paterno since last November was quite surprising.

O’Brien Wins Another Coach of the Year!


Penn State’s Bill O’Brien has picked up another coaching honor.

The Maxwell Football Club named O’Brien coach of the year on Tuesday after the first-year head coach guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record under unprecedented circumstances.

O’Brien will pick up the award on March 1 at the Maxwell Club’s awards gala in Atlantic City. That same night, Penn State’s senior class will receive the Brookshier Spirit Award for commitment, leadership and effort in 2012.

The season began under the cloud of strict NCAA sanctions for the school’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal involving retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

But Penn State finished a surprising second in the Big Ten Leaders Division behind unbeaten Ohio State.

O’Brien has also been named ESPN coach of the year.

Our Coach of the Year is Staying at Penn State!


While Penn State fans awaited word from the Big Ten on its Coach of the Year

Bill O’Brien’s agent said the coach isn’t going anywhere, except on the recruiting trail.Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News

voting, the coach’s agent was telling ESPN on Tuesday that Bill O’Brien wasn’t taking another job.
“(O’Brien) is staying, and we’ve had no conversations with anyone else,”  Joe Linta said. “In fact, he’s leaving at 6 in the morning tomorrow to go out on the  recruiting trail.”

Linta added that recent talk about how much his client would have to pay in order to buy out  the remaining eight years of his contract at Penn State were “irrelevant.” Those rumors started recently when Patriot-News columnist David Jones asked O’Brien whether he was staying. The coach didn’t confirm that he was.

Here’s more on the agent’s remarks, including his reaction to the penalties that the NCAA levied on Penn State.

Penn State – Ohio State calls for Stadium WHITE OUT


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s primetime clash with unbeaten Ohio State will kick at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27 and air on ESPN, the Big Ten Conference announced Monday (Oct. 15.

All Penn State fans are encouraged to wear white for the all-stadium Penn State WhiteOut, as the No. 7 Buckeyes make their first visit to Beaver Stadium since 2009.

The Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com will begin coverage at 4 p.m. before the Nittany Lions‘ fourth appearance on ESPN this season.

Penn State (4-2, 2-0) and Ohio State (7-0, 2-0) are tied for the lead in the Big Ten Leaders Division. The Nittany Lions will bring a four-game winning streak to Iowa on Saturday for an 8 p.m. kick on the Big Ten Network. The Buckeyes host Purdue at noon Saturday before traveling to Happy Valley.

Penn State and Ohio State will be meeting for the 20th consecutive year and the 28th time overall. The teams annually meet as Leaders Division rivals.

The announcement of the Ohio State kick and TV coverage brings the total of known Penn State start times and television information to eight for this season. Penn State has played on TV in 222 of its last 224 games, including national appearances on ESPN (Ohio, Illinois and Northwestern), ABC (Virginia) and ABC/ESPN (Navy and Temple) to begin this season.

Additional Penn State kick times will be announced as part of the Big Ten’s 6/12-day selection process with its TV partners.

Penn State! turning the page to a new era


This is excerpted from Penn Live

The final score, a 24-14 defeat to Ohio, seemed secondary, the Bobcats merely a foil for this exercise in emotional exorcism.

Nittany Nation simply longed to get back to this, just to this: Playing a football game.  For many, the previous ten months seemed an eternity.

And while roars went up when that first kicked football went flying, there’s no forgetting the pain or minimizing the loss — all that was stolen by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and university leaders’ inadequate response to early reports of his abuse. Namely, 111 team wins wiped away, a once-sterling reputation sullied, a football legend’s legacy rewritten, Joe Paterno‘s bronze statue outside Beaver Stadium unceremoniously dismantled.

And of course, the irreplaceable childhood innocence of ten boys was taken when they fell victim to a pedophile predator. One whose heinous acts took place in part on Penn State football program property. The locker room, no less. The showers. Heaping hurt upon hurt, Jerry Sandusky wasn’t stopped for more than a decade, even when numerous officials, including Paterno himself, had the chance.

All this made for a delicate balancing act for a first football game.

Fans flocked bound and determined not only to bear witness to a new beginning, but honor past traditions and long-held game day rituals.

They joined hands and formed a ring around the entire circumference of Beaver Stadium to remember all sexually abused children and safeguard the innocence of others. And in this act of honor, they formed a line of defense around the stadium, as if vowing to never, ever allow this happen there again. Later, they would hush the stadium in silent salute.

This team is special. All of its members could have chosen easier paths to greener pastures in the aftermath of devastating NCAA sanctions. But they stood pat. And yesterday, Penn Staters stood proud, lining the blocks in front of Beaver Stadium in touching tribute to this team.

Long-time fans say they’ve never witnessed so many people, literally throngs who turned the street into a blue-and-white canyon, which echoed with the school’s signature chant. This time, shouted with a new sense of urgency, resolve and defiance.  This was Penn State loyalty reflected back upon itself — first by loyal players and then by their loyal fans.

Mostly, it was the little things that were new: Players with their names on their backs and blue ribbons on their helmets. The piped-in stadium music favoring classic rock, not pop schmaltz. The fact that a few fans felt the need to remind everyone that the last 14 years of Penn State football actually did take place. They did this with signs declaring, “409 Forever,” referring to Paterno’s erased wins record.

Bitter feelings over unrelenting media scrutiny remained close to the surface. A chorus of boos rained down on an ESPN reporter, just as the camera’s red light went on and he began his live TV report.

“Hypocrites,” shouted some. “Go home ESPN!”

Also in no short supply: indignation over Paterno’s unceremonious firing and what some see as a posthumous frame-up job by the Freeh report and university officials who commissioned the investigation and accepted its findings.

A Loss on the Field, A Lesson Off It

In the end, it was a game. And at the end of that game, Penn State lost.

Fans couldn’t help but feel bad about this. Where was the Hollywood ending to Penn State’s new beginning when one needed it?

“We’re just very disappointed. I felt sure we could win,” said Dorothy Aurand of Eagles Mere.

Did it dampen the mood? Sure. Fans streamed from the stadium somewhat dispirited, but not defeated. Their goodwill toward a team and a new coach who would have given anything for a better debut, undiminished.

That’s because what a football community accomplished this day could not be calculated on a scoreboard.