OVC coaches reflect on Paterno, Penn State punishment

Monday, July 23, 2012 at 4:42pm

When Watson Brown walked across the field to shake Joe Paterno’s hand, he didn’t know what to expect.

After all, in his first game as the head coach of Cincinnati, Brown had just knocked off defending national champ Penn State. On the road.

“He was just gracious — ‘You beat us and I can’t be prouder for you. You out-coached us and out-played us,’ ” Brown remembers of the 14-3 victory in 1983. “Just first class. A lot of times when you knock those guys off that’s not what is said. That’s probably the most gracious any coach had been to me after a tough loss.”

Nearly 30 years later, Brown, a former Vanderbilt head coach in his sixth season at Tennessee Tech, fears the worst about the late Paterno, a coach he “looked up to all the way through.”

On Monday, NCAA president Mark Emmert imposed unprecedented sanctions on Penn State in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The NCAA fined the university $60 million, imposed a four-year postseason ban, reduced 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period and vacated all 111 wins from 1998 to 2011. The penalties affect Paterno’s all-time coaching mark, dropping him from first at 409 to 12th with 298 on the winningest NCAA football coaching list.

“It’s just a sad day,” Brown said. “It is so sad for the children and that’s not fixable. Anything that happens at Penn State is fixable in time but that wasn’t fixable. I just hope Coach [Paterno], that as it comes out through the wash, that he wasn’t as involved in this as it looks like they’re saying he is. That’s all I hope. I just hope and pray, as it comes on down, that it proves to not be as deep with him, for his sake.”

Similarly somber feelings resonated through the Holiday Inn on West End during the Ohio Valley Conference football media day.

Instead of looking ahead to the 2012 season, more questions centered on the effects of the sanctions and what else could have been done.

“He took it to his higher-ups and I think he followed protocol,” Tennessee State coach Rod Reed said. “Could he have done more? Could he have fired Sandusky? I guess so. ... Was he told if you fire him it’s going to be a big cover-up? Those are things people can’t answer. So he had to look out for his family and the well-being of his family so you never know what really happened in that situation.

“But the actions of one man have caused the fall of a great dynasty in college football.”

Dino Babers, in his first year as head coach at Eastern Illinois, hesitated to share his opinion, preferring to keep his feelings “inside my house, inside my walls with my family and my children.”

Though he most recently spent four years as an assistant at Baylor, Babers coached at Pittsburgh in 2003. Thus, he understands the impact of Penn State football.

“Penn State is the university, obviously, in that state and it’s going to affect a lot of people,” Babers said. “I don’t have the right to voice my opinion. ... My thing is, like everybody else, we’re just disappointed.”

9 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 7/23/12 at 6:52

The sad consequence is, excluding those individuals with knowledge of, and directly involved in covering up the assaults, (who will be punished by the legal system,) those bearing the brunt of the punishment meted out by the NCAA are as innocent as Jerry Sandusky's victims.

The leadership at Penn State who, once made aware of the situation, not only took no action to stop the incidents, but by their inaction facilitated further assaults will, I am certain, be dealt with by the legal system. The lives they once enjoyed are over, and they will suffer, not as much as those victimized, but they are I believe finished as legal and civil actions will likely bankrupt them.

But what of those caught in the cross fire?

The players, past and present, who looked up to Joe Paterno, and were proud to be part of the once exalted heritage of Penn State football are one such group. Especially current players with athletic scholarships, perhaps representing their only way to obtain an education, or seeking a ticket to the pro ranks.

The university's student body and staff, the town residents, even the citizens of the state all are tainted by association due to the heinous nature of Jerry Sandusky's crimes.

The victims will bear the scars of their ordeal to their graves There is no punishment available to undo the damage or adequately make right in any way the events they endured.

The collateral damage represented by the innocents caught in the fallout could have lesser, but still lasting impact.

From one perspective, this is an indictment of the collegiate sports machine itself, in that those responsible for overseeing school programs can be blinded by the need to win due to the enormous sums of money involved, the prestige accorded champions, and expectations of often wealthy and powerful supporters.

There are, after all the suits are filed, cases tried, and settlements awarded, no winners in this. Only losers.

By: yogiman on 7/24/12 at 5:36

The point that Sandusky bullied so many young men, .one thing that amazes me is that those young men were just that, men. Tough hard men "fighting" to play football at one of the highest ranked schools in the US even though they were young.

And knowing me, if Sandusky had tried to "rape" me into a sexual relation with himself I would have beat the living hell out of him as a young man.

By: linc62 on 7/24/12 at 6:29

yogiman, you've stooped too low. May you, like those boys, soon meet a predator that cunningling outwits and overpowers you.

By: jonw on 7/24/12 at 9:29


In what world are you living yogiman? Those Sandusky bullied into submission were kids - - not football players. They were not old enough to make informed decisions, nor strong enough to " beat the living hell out of him."
Get a life & get informed. Sandusky was a pedophile. Simple enough?

By: FLeFew on 7/24/12 at 10:41

One of the sad consequences of this matter is that this morning I heard a person at the next table wondering if Sandusky’s players knew and looked the other way. At least we have not heard of them participating.
The actions of Paterno and the others have tainted all they came in contact with. I do hope that other coaches and school leaders will learn from this extreme punishment. It is sad that lessons like this must be taught at this level. It should have been learned at home and in Sunday School.

By: yogiman on 7/24/12 at 10:50


I don't know how you was raised, but I was raised in the country and was a pretty "healthy" boy in my much younger years.I've slowed down now but I still have a pretty good punch.

But a question arises: you state they were kids, not football players. What were those "kids" doing in the the football players section of the school?

Now let's also put it this way, I was blessed with the dad I had. If something like that had happened to me and I couldn't "handle" the guy, I would have told my dad. And as I've said, you don't know my dad. But I bet Sandusky have left the kinds alone after dad "talked" to him and would remember him until the day he dies.

And like father, like son, if a man had pulled something like that on my son, I would "talk" to him making sure I was also remembered.

By: yogiman on 7/24/12 at 10:55


For you to make such a comment indicates to me you are "one of them men". I may have stooped low in your perceptive, but think of myself of being a man and there's no man on this earth that would that could "outwit" me with a sexual approach.

What are you using for a brain?

By: cityjvtao on 7/24/12 at 11:58

Yogiman – are you saying that these boys who were victims of this child predator were somehow flawed and you, being the strong true alpha male type would have been able to defend yourself? It is attitudes like yours that allow these perpetrators to continue for years. It’s fairly obvious from your previous comments that you are poorly educated, but blaming the victims in this case is just ignorant and sick.

By: yogiman on 7/24/12 at 12:18

Speak for yourself, cityjvtao.

I was the boy my parents were raising me to be to become the man I grew up to be. And as the old saying goes: I am my father's son.

I remember what it was like as a child. And I know how things were when I was growing up to be a man.

And as a child, no "queer" would get away with making an approach on me. But again, the way I was being raised as a child, if I couldn't handle it, I wouldn't hesitate to tell my parents what was happening. And I can assure you, my father wasn't a "don't worry about it" type of man.

I don't know what kind of childhood you had, and I don't know the thoughts of your parents on such a matter, but I grew up to be my father's son.

And if a man approached my son in such a matter, you could bet your a$$ I would act like my father and he would get to know me very well.