Category Archives: Sports

When Nepotism Is A Double-Edged Sword: The Case of Jay Paterno

Jay Paterno, former Penn State University Quarterbacks Coach (Image: CNN, undated)

Jay Paterno, former Penn State University Quarterbacks Coach (Image: CNN, undated)

Jay Paterno is still mad and he’s not going to take it anymore. The former Penn State University Quarterbacks Coach and son of the late Coach Joe Paterno is suing PSU to get what he thinks is owed him by those who have done him wrong.

In his $1 million lawsuit against the university which he filed last month with another former PSU coach, Jay Paterno is alleging, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he was “improperly terminated” when [he was] retained as an [assistant coach] by [former] Penn State coach Bill O’Brien in January 2012″ and that the university has [engaged] in civil conspiracy against [him]” which has made him “unemployable for other football coaching positions.”

In other words, Jay Paterno has been unable to get a coaching job since PSU cleaned its football house in early 2012. As you might recall, Jay Paterno’s dad, Joe Paterno and other head administrators were fired by the university in light of the 2011 child abuse scandal in which Former PSU Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused and eventually sentenced to 30-60 years for 45 counts of child sexual abuse against ten boys.

Once the Sandusky case rocked the university and his dad’s less-than-stellar handling of one reported sexual assault by Sandusky came to light, Jay Paterno should’ve known his coaching days at PSU were numbered, especially once his dad died from the stress of it all or of a guilty conscience.

Yet he seemed shocked by the termination. I guess having been employed by your father for seventeen years; twelve years in a high profile position means never having to experience the ‘new coach = possible job termination’ phenomenon. Therefore when it happened to Jay Paterno courtesy of O’Brien it was probably a major kick-in-the-gut moment for him though he did receive a severance payment given to ‘Paterno Assistants’ who weren’t retained by O’Brien.

It would be hard to argue that the Sandusky scandal hasn’t been an impediment to Jay Paterno’s post-PSU coaching career. What university would want a coach on their team who might have turned a blind eye and/or deaf ear to Sandusky’s sexual assault of young boys (though it has never been alleged or proven that Jay Paterno had knowledge of the incidents)? Of course Jay Paterno’s last name has probably proved more of a hindrance than a help–which isn’t normally how it has worked for him. Hiring him might bring unwanted attention to a school regarding a topic or coach that they don’t wish to discuss.

However, there is another question that hasn’t been fully vetted regarding Jay Paterno’s lack of coaching offers. Is it solely because of  his ‘connection’ to the Penn State/Sandusky scandal that he hasn’t been hired or could it also involve something else, such as his own coaching history?

Underwhelming Coaching Achievements

Most of Jay Paterno’s college football experience has been playing and working for his dad. He was a member of the Nittany Lions football team for four years (1986-1990) though he was never a starter. In his final year he was a reserve quarterback for the team.

After he graduated from PSU he was a graduate assistant for the University of Virginia football team for a couple of years (1990-1992). Next up, he was the Quarterbacks and Tight Ends coach at the University of Connecticut for one year (1993-1994). His final stop before returning to PSU was a one-year term as the Quarterbacks Coach at James Madison University (1994-1995). From 1995-1999 he was PSU’s Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator then became their Quarterbacks Coach in 1995 until he was terminated in 2012.

His football coaching experience amounts to 19 years with 17 of them at Penn State working under his dad. Not exactly a prolific coaching road he’s traveled. Nevertheless, Penn State’s bio of Jay Paterno lauds his quarterback coaching work at the university.

[Jay Paterno] has been instrumental in the development of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin, both of whom have delivered school record-setting performances. Paterno was influential in the development of two-time first-team All-Big Ten signal-caller Daryll Clark. Co-winner of the 2009 Big Ten Silver Football (MVP), Clark was 22-4 as a starter, breaking Penn State records for season (24) and career (43) touchdown passes, season passing yardage (3,003) and season total offense (3,214), among others. Under Paterno’s guidance, Clark gave Penn State a 2,000-yard passer for the fifth straight year. Paterno was instrumental in the development of record-setting quarterbacks Anthony Morelli and Michael Robinson, the 2005 Big Ten MVP. Robinson broke Kerry Collins’ Penn State season total offense mark en route to finishing fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Paterno also coached Zack Mills, who owned or shared 18 school passing and total offense records, including the game passing (399 yards) and total offense (418 yards) marks.

Sounds like he’s done some solid work molding successful quarterbacks, but I doubt any of the above QB names beyond Collins (whom he only worked with for one season) rings much of a bell to most NFL fans and with good reason. Yes, some of his quarterbacks broke a few Big 10 Records and two of them finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy Race during their PSU years (Kerry Collins and Michael Robinson). But if you’re a well-known football program what you hang your hat on is how many of your players make it to the NFL.

JayPaterno.QBsCHART

Under Jay Paterno’s coaching tutelage only three of his QBs  have made it to the NFL, with one of them playing as a wide receiver. Also PSU quarterbacks during his tenure didn’t exactly do a lot of passing during their games, with only Zack Mills and Matt McGloin cracking the 150 yards per game average. Yes, PSU has traditionally been known for its running game and producing linebackers. However that doesn’t mean PSU wasn’t interested in putting up large QB numbers, especially since it was in the Big Ten. For the eleven quarterbacks whom he coached at PSU during his 12-year period they only averaged 144.4 passing yards per game. You stack up that data against other well-known or Big Ten quarterbacks during that time period (Kyle Orton, Tom Brady, Chad Henne, Drew Brees) Penn State’s signal callers suffer woefully in comparison, let alone their QB Coach.

Neither Penn State or Jay Paterno attracted big-time quarterbacks and they definitely didn’t produce them. Is it any wonder that college football programs haven’t been clamoring for his quarterback coaching services?

Grasping At Career Straws

Cover of 'Paterno Legacy' 2014 book written by Jay Paterno (Image: Amazon.com)

Cover of ‘Paterno Legacy’ 2014 book written by Jay Paterno (Image: Amazon.com)

Due to a lack of college coaching offers Jay Paterno had to find another career path. Maybe he could’ve stepped back a level and done some high school coaching or become an athletic administrator at a smaller school, sensible decisions to most people, unless you’re a Paterno.

Instead, he decided to run for public office. In a somewhat ‘go big or go home’ political move he announced in February 2014 that he was running in the Democratic Race for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. As to be expected,  his campaign was practically over before it started. The validity of the 1,000 signatures his campaign collected to have his name officially put on the ballot became a legal sticking point. In addition, he had zero political experience, was running against six other politically-seasoned candidates and the issue of him being accused of trading off his family name for votes was a salient one. Inevitably, on March 28, 2014 he dropped out of the race.

Luckily for him he had another career back-up plan. While he was running for office he had been working on his first book Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father, which was released this summer. The books’s purpose in so many words is to remind others that they shouldn’t allow the Sandusky issue to define Joe Paterno’s life and football legacy. Jay Paterno has always defended his dad’s actions surrounding the Sandusky child sexual assault scandal, stating that “in no way shape or form would Joe Paterno have put anybody in harm’s way” though the Freeh Report which investigated PSU’s actions regarding the Sandusky matter stated otherwise. Nevertheless, the book will probably do well among PSU Alumni who still strongly believe that PSU should honor Joe Paterno for his service to the university, if no one else.

Jay Paterno must think being a writer/author will be a good career move. Besides his bi-monthly column for StateCollege.com his official website (formerly his campaign website) mentions that he is working on a second book tentatively titled ‘School Colors’ that will “take readers inside a year of big-time college football.” Guess he’ll be speaking from personal experience.

 Assessing Blame

Jay Paterno may believe that Penn State has sabotaged his coaching career because the university is trying to run as fast as it can from all those who were employed by Joe Paterno and/or connected to Jerry Sandusky. Given the fact that Jay Paterno has never been accused of having knowledge of Sandusky’s actions it would seem that maybe the scandal hasn’t tarnished him as much as he alleges.

Jay Paterno (Image: Mark Pynes, PennLive, July 24, 2014)

Jay Paterno (Image: Mark Pynes, PennLive, July 24, 2014)

What seems to really be at play in Jay Paterno’s post-PSU work history is good, old-fashioned nepotism. He worked twelve years as the quarterbacks coach for his dad churning out mediocre talent at best with a couple of bright spots. Given his coaching record with his quarterbacks he wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long if he was at another college football program. The only reason why he did is because of his last name. He knows it and so does the college football coaching community. His short-term dive into politics (which was probably his first truly obvious attempt to trade on his family’s name) was, to be blunt, a vanity-filled, waste-of-time. In this instance, nepotism and politics weren’t on friendly terms. As for his writing career, maybe he will become a successful author, but given his track record it seems unlikely.

In the end Jay Paterno might be good at only one thing – being the son of Joe Paterno. Can’t blame Penn State, Sandusky or O’Brien for that – only himself.

The Money for Hits ‘Bounty Program’ in the NFL: Is this really surprising?

Gregg Williams, Offensive Coordinator for the New Orleans Saints met with NFL investigators March 5th looking into Saints' bounty system (Photo/Sean Gardner Reuters).

The sports world is all atwitter over the news that between 2009-2011 New Orleans Saints players and their Offensive Coordinator Gregg Williams participated in a ‘bounty program.’ This program rewarded players thousands of dollars to make big hits on their opponents.

Gasp! Excuse me if I don’t pass out from shock.

The reason why this story has turned into a big deal is because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is all about protecting the NFL brand. It’s also about player safety, but Goodell is probably concerned more about the former than the latter.

Seriously, is this story really that scandalous?! What’s surprising is that a couple of coaches were not only aware of the bounty program, but apparently gave their blessings to it. Everything else I’m sure is old news to most in the NFL. The NFL has done a decent job in trying to protect its players from vicious hits, but these type of hits have continued and will continue – it’s the nature of the game. Players are taught to hit hard; to knock their opponent down – maybe out of the game.

For the NFL all of a sudden to act saddened and dismayed that a bounty program exists is hypocritical. The league will throw around fines and suspensions – to show people that the NFL really cares.

After the bad PR dust has settled, the bounty program will go undercover again and coaches will do a better job of being oblivious to its existence. Of course there will also be legal ramifications, which I’m sure will be kept under the radar as well. The NFL will be back to its multi-billion dollar business as usual.

Becoming a Steelers Fan 24-7-365-Forever

Sometimes I wonder if I really had a choice in the matter.

My sister and I were raised in Pittsburgh, PA by my mom and aunt who were Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Though they didn’t have season tickets they would go to as many games as possible, especially when the Steelers played the Browns in Cleveland. My mom wore Steeler colors and regalia on Fridays before games so if you didn’t know the Steelers were playing that Sunday you knew by her Friday wardrobe.

Pittsburgh Steelers helmet (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

However, on Sundays is when my family’s love for the Steelers went into overdrive. We were regular church-goers but when the Steelers played they were a major distraction to honoring the father, son and holy ghost. When we were in church my mom would check her watch constantly; complaining to me about how the reverend seemed to extend his sermons so that people would miss the kick-off. Once the church service was over we practically flew to the car, barely saying our “good-byes” and “have a blessed week” to friends and fellow parishioners.

When we hopped in the car my mom would turn it to 1250 WTAE to hear the radio broadcast of the game. As the announcers babbled and Myron Cope screeched the color commentary my mom would practically scream “What’s the damn score? Shit!” Though my mom was a regular church-goer she was never quite able to remove expletives from her vocabulary. Throughout the twenty-minute car ride from church to home my mom and aunt would go from highs to lows depending on how well or horrible the Steelers were playing. When we got home my mom and aunt dashed towards the house to get inside so that they could immediately watch the game.

My mom and aunt would end up sitting in front of the television in their church finery, staring at the television until half-time. Then they would rush upstairs; get changed and eat their lunch in time to watch the rest of the game. Unfortunately, at that time we only had one television so my sister and I had a choice of watching the game or hanging out in our bedrooms. My sister chose her room; I chose the Steelers.

Terrible Towel owned by many Pittsburgh Steelers fans (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

As I got older I found myself watching more Steeler games with my family which eventually led to the watching of other football games. By the time I went to college I was reading the sports page of major newspapers, listening to sports radio, subscribing to Sports Illustrated, reading draft news and mid-season reports. I simply couldn’t get enough of the NFL or my Steelers. Once I got cable and started watching the NFL Draft on ESPN it was game over. I had become a hardcore Steelers and NFL fan, my interest and knowledge surpassing my friends, family and even my then college boyfriend who played football for the University of Pittsburgh.

Nowadays on NFL gamedays I watch pre-games shows, several football games, NFL Redzone and post-game shows. The NFL Network has become my default channel. Every day I hit a bunch of sports websites (too many to mention) for team updates, standings and and other NFL news. I tweet the ups/downs of my Steelers and other teams with football glee. I post comments and analyses on sports websites about game highs and lows, talking trash, throwing around insults while simultaneously expressing my love of pro football. Note: I have purposely refrained from fantasy football because I know my addiction to it would be fast and furious.

Though I watch and follow a lot of NFL games and teams, my football priority is always the Steelers. I’m a  proud Steelers fan, but not a delusional one (*cough* Redskins fans). However, my face frowns up and my eyes become squinty when people say bad things about my Steelers, even when they’re probably right. When I watch Steelers games I wave my Terrible Towel and yell at the television. I’m loud and it drives my husband and son nuts, but I can’t help it. I wish the worst game mojo on all Steelers rivals and their gameday competitors. When we win big games I yell “Go Steelers!” maniacally out my home window, scaring unsuspecting pedestrians. I get in funks when my team loses post-season. I have developed long-term, irrational hatred towards teams who have beaten my Steelers in post-season play. I have indoctrinated my son since he learned to speak to say “Steelers” when asked “Who is the best team?” My love for my team may have started out slow, but it kicked in with a vengeance.

Over the years I have seen my Steelers through great, good, so-so and bad seasons. Though I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh for years I have never thought for a second about switching my allegiance to another NFL team. I am a Steelers fan for life.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Is A Sexual Idiot

This week I received my latest edition of Sports Illustrated (May 5, 2010). The magazine’s cover story ‘The Hangover’ is on the Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The subtitle references his bad behavior, bad judgment and how “entitlement run amok is costing the proud Steelers.” As a Steelers fan this Roethlisberger scandal has been hard to take.

Sports Ilustrated Cover of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (Image: Sports Illustrated, May 5, 2010)

Sports Ilustrated Cover of Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (Image: Sports Illustrated, May 5, 2010)

Just in case you didn’t get that he was a total sleazebag SI made sure to pick a photo that showed he hadn’t seen a razor in days. Add to that the prerequisite bank robber/rapist hat and the image is complete. He is a blue collar, semi-white trash, drunken thug who lives to defile the young and nubile.

Roethlisberger has done some dumb things in the past such as riding his motorcycle without a helmet, but this current double-whammy of sexual assault charges is just ridiculous. I use the word ridiculous because his actions were completely unnecessary.

I’m not negating the yuck factor of his actions. I can’t imagine having to fend off the drunken attentions of a man who is determined to have his way. It must be a scary situation for anyone, especially if the man is someone famous. I think that he deserved his NFL suspension because he obviously doesn’t grasp the concept of proper versus improper societal choices.

What I don’t understand is why he felt that he had no choice but to hit on and rough up some underage (under 21) college girls in order to get laid. He is a single guy–not physically unattractive–with loads of money. He could have gone through a low or high rent escort service for sex. He could have found some groupies to help him put his dick to rest. He also could’ve set-up some ‘friends with benefits’ situations to help relieve some of that sexual tension. Of course there are always known groupies whose day he would have made by giving them a “hot beef injection” to quote the Weird Science movie. I’m sure that some of his teammates could have guided him in the right coital direction whenever he really needed to get laid forthwith. I know some of these options are illegal and/or deemed immoral, but it’s done all the time, so there’s no point hiding our heads in the sand about it, pretending this type of so-called sexual decadence doesn’t exist.

Maybe Roethlisberger likes his women young because he still sees himself as a young college kid. Technically he’s only 7-8 years older than the woman he assaulted in Atlanta. But given his life experience and work environment he might as well be in another generation. I know that men usually like younger women because they are supposedly more supple, less of a hassle, less demanding and more malleable. They never think about what that says about them – that they are walking stereotypes of a manchild who can only relate to those younger than themselves.

He tried to put out the bad PR flames by holding a no-questions press conference, but it didn’t turn out well. He should have known that showing up to tell the world that you’re sorry while looking like you just got out of the shower would send the wrong message – again. It only confirmed to many that he was a first class lout. Now the SI story implies that he is a brain-damaged one at that, that his concussions have hampered his ability to know right from wrong, that he acts on instinct without understanding the consequences. I’m not sure which image is worse.

Since we’re a forgiving nation I’m sure that once Roethlisberger returns from his 6-game suspension and wins a few games all will be forgiven. It’s the American way. Hopefully while he is sitting out his time from the NFL he is getting some tips on how to pick up women whom he doesn’t need to assault to get their attention. It’s not that hard, pun intended.

Update: 1) In 2010 the NFL’s initial ‘personal misconduct’ suspension of Roethlisberger was reduced from six to four-games and he was ordered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to undergo professional counseling and behavior evaluation during his suspension and subsequent reinstatement. 2) In 2010 the woman who accused Roethelisberger of sexual assault at a bar in Midgeville, Georgia on June 5, 2010 decided not to pursue criminal charges against him though she never recanted her accusation. The district attorney did not file criminal charges against Roethlisberger. 3) In 2012 Roethelisberger settled a civil lawsuit with Andrea McNulty who claimed that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her in June 2008 at a Lake Takoe, Nevada celebrity golf tournament. No criminal charges were officially filed in the case. 4) Roethelisberger married Ashley Harlan in 2011; they have two children.

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