Wednesday, November 30, 2011

With Shocking Allegations, Jim Boeheim In Dilemma at Syracuse

As shocking as it is to find a shred of truth, end the traces of hypocrisy and purge destruction that initiated public outrage, there’s really no telling on what to believe after Jim Boeheim defended his ex-associate head basketball coach. Risking his job status, pointing his finger at former Syracuse ball boys Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Michael Lang — a couple of accusers who alleged that Bernie Fine had abused them when they were children – Boeheim deemed them as liars and money seekers.

It’s so convenient but unfair of him to defend Fine, who was fired as Syracuse associate head basketball for the disturbing allegations. It’s a shame, a real shame that he is, like Joe Paterno, caught in a pickle for someone else’s accusations of sexual abuse. By all accounts, when he tried to erase the allegations and finally had desired to protect the basketball culture for one of the nation’s best programs, he might have caused more pain. He tried to find peace and apologized for comments that may have been insensitive to victims of abuse, but it only created more furor as a national sex-abuse survivors group is begging for Syracuse University to discipline the well-respected Boeheim for wrongly referring to Fine’s accusers as extortionists and falsifiers.

He is, without much debate, an expert at winning, but surely put his reputation out on a limb for an alleged molester. In what happened at Penn State – where the board of trustees felt Paterno had knowledge of alleged crimes – is equivalent to the allegations in upstate New York. The parallels are linked to the Jerry-Sandusky situation, whereas Boeheim claimed he never knew anything about Fine sexually molesting two former ball boys, until ESPN recently reported and broadcasted the allegations. Boeheim can, for now, keep his job – everybody knows that – and he said on Sunday that the university acted appropriately in firing Fine in the wake of the 2002 tape, and lastly, apologized for his statements toward Davis and Lang.

The madness unleashed from a taped phone conversation between Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie, when the university conducted its enclosed investigation in 2005. In a statement, however, Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a memo to students, faculty and administrators Sunday night that it never had access to the tape. But on the tape, where bits and pieces of information were disclosed, Fine’s wife apparently admits to Davis that she had concerns her husband had sexually abused him in their home.

It was also made clear that Laurie admitted on the tape to having a sexual relationship with Davis. The extremely bad thing about it is that she said she wasn’t surprised, but was incapable of ending the abuse when all she could have done was call the authorities on her husband. Instead, she chose to cover the truth and reportedly suffocated the process of the 2005 investigation by saying the allegations weren’t true. It happened during the phone conversation as she spoke to one of the alleged victims as well, enabling her husband to get away with wrongdoing without offering any details in a recorded call.

Not only is the criticism swirling around Boeheim about his initial support of his former assistant and his harsh stance on the accusers. Also, he put his longtime job on the line when he verbally lashed out in defense of Fine. This past weekend, as a third alleged victim came out publicly and Laurie’s taped conversation had been made public, Boeheim had softened his position on the allegations and maintained self-control and support for the victims. His expression is irately in shock, however, his mind is set to move forward and hopefully put the allegations behind him and inspire his players, on a mission to win a national title. This is Boeheim’s attitude, a strong recovery and aspiration for a program now stuck in misery.

This university should be leery in protecting Boeheim from hell. What a helluva week it’s been, for a basketball coach who should be taken into account based on his unfeeling comments, harshly attacking the victims and blinded by his longtime assistant’s double-life. The distasteful thought is that he may have known about the allegations. And then again, maybe he was like everyone else and really had no clue Fine, who spent 35 seasons on the bench sitting next to Boeheim, was an alleged molester. Since he couldn’t reserve judgment and spoke angrily, he is simply to blame faced with a despicable and outrageous incident that cast a gloom over Syracuse. This is curable and may even die down this season, if only because its one of the elite Big East basketball programs in the nation, but it is terrifying to know that a pedophile lurked in the school’s facilities and courtside. Moments like this, in truth, is when folks are unafraid to state how they feel about a typical incident. This week, Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, an organization that supports abused victims, said that Fine’s firing wasn’t good enough.

“I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well,” Hoaston said Monday. “These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim’s responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch.”

Penn State II: The Return of the Sex Scandal in Sports.

I am fatigued by it all. I am sick and tired of scandal after scandal, blame game after blame game in sports. It’s probably right to affirm that men of power are sick in the mind and would seduce children for an advantage in power. It’s probably right to grasp an understanding that we can’t trust men in high-profile positions either, despite that many of them are viewed as role models. This was beyond a crime, but a mental illness that requires attention. This was a sociopath taking control of children with his power. It’s hardly ever that a person sense a strange vibe whenever grown men are seen alone with children who aren’t theirs, but now would be a good time to be attentive, if something highly unusual is noticed.

If Davis, now 39, told the truth in an interview with ESPN – in which it’s hard to call an abused victim a liar – Fine began molesting him in 1984 and the sexual activities continued until he was around 27. The abuse took place at Fine’s home, Syracuse basketball facilities and on road trips. His stepbrother, Lang, was even molested while he was in the fifth or sixth grade. The other guy to come forward was Zach Tomaselli, 23, who said Sunday he told police that Fine sexually abused him in 2002 in Pittsburgh hotel room.

And you know what? In the wake of the news, not believing the victims and responding in defense of Fine, Boeheim was defensive, uncompromising, biased and politically inaccurate. By those remarks, he might have just risk so much, not only for defending his friend and the university’s brand but slamming the victims. We’ll soon find out whether he’ll be Syracuse basketball head coach in the coming days. Everybody deserves a chance to repair a school’s image, but normally when a coach has a relentless rant without having any knowledge it somewhat damages credibility. He certainly wasn’t thinking before he had spoken, and Boeheim’s unwise concept to blame the one’s hurt by all of this was obliviousness and downright ignorance.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Boeheim is fired. It’s not an irrational act. It’s not too late. But he won’t be fired, even if you make a strong case of his heartless words. For what we know, he’s not guilty of any crimes. For what we know, he wasn’t aware of these allegations — at least that is what he tells us. It’s hard to fire someone without evidence or eyewitnesses.

For what we know, despite the gloom and dark shades of this catastrophe, Boeheim will stay as Syracuse basketball head coach.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Liar Liar! Sorry, Don’t Buy the Urban Meyer Hiring

If there’s a man who is hired to take on a new coaching gig, amidst an economic downturn that can’t be trusted as times become more fragile and scarier, Urban Meyer is clearly the man.

Life at Ohio State will never be fabulous or euphoric until Meyer stuns folks with his notorious I-Quit episodes that’d reveal another stunning development. There is something suspiciously odd about the Meyer hiring, a sense of bad vibes spreading throughout the university, enough to give off a foul smell at the Horseshoe.

He always has a flimsy excuse for everything and everyone, simply using health issues as an escape hatch to end the stressful moments when the going gets tough. By now, he’s run out of reasons not to be trusted but have the credentials to seemingly stand as a great football leader, in which his availability attracted schools that were seeking a first-class coach for filling their coaching vacancies. The problem today is, he’s not the perfect coach for the job, primarily selling one of the finest athletic programs in the nation.

The search is over, and it just happens so that Meyer accepts a challenging role, a heavy task for a man who doesn’t handle an array of stress too well. Only months after the university was rocked by a memorabilia-for-tattoo scandal that led to Jim Tressel’s abrupt departure, Meyer is brought in to revitalize Ohio State. He is hired to guide a storied program that demand good standards to quite fittingly portray a purpose, and Meyer is also back to turn Ohio State into a national powerhouse, vowing he intends to accelerate the process of superiority by eradicating poison.

For now at least, he is authentic about his recent hiring, ready to come out of his early retirement to become the head coach at Ohio State. And it was a wonderful if very outlandish comeback for someone who has a nose longer than Pinocchio and obligated to tell a lie and step down, considering his frivolity and deceptiveness in the past, not upfront with any athletic department. It’s only a matter of time before he calls it quits again, but in the meantime, he feels “fantastic” after 11 months away from coaching.

How long will that last, I wonder?

On a count of 1..2…3 “Tell me lies. Tell me sweet little lies.” Sing it all together now… Tell me lies. Tell me sweet little lies.

So, when is he expected to pull another switcheroo, expected to turn his back on a university that trusts in him until he shockingly decides to leave and stun the world? When is he planning to abandon the institution? What is the timetable for his next announcement of early retirement?

The Buckeyes have hired a replacement, an elusive coach who couldn’t tell the truth. Much enigma surrounds Ohio State, and it would be sensible to think that Meyer is spewing lies in Columbus, a wishy-washy personality that has had a frequent pattern of untruthfulness. This is a common trait seen often from Meyer, telling lies and promising a school that he’d desire to take charge and transform a team into a national power, but we can never conceive the mind of a coach if he talks in riddles. It’s impossible for anyone to believe the truth from a person who is laughably a trickster and a liar, not an honest or credible living soul.

“I made this clear to Jeremy Foley (Florida Athletic Director), if I am able to go coach, I want to coach at one place, the University of Florida. It would be a travesty, it would be ridiculous to all of a sudden come back and get the feeling back, get the health back, feel good again and then all of a sudden go throw some other colors on my shirt and go coach? I don’t want to do that. I have too much love for this University and these players and for what we’ve built.”

I have too much love for this University? Are you kidding me? The only love he has is for a six-year contract worth $4 million a year, along with another $2.4 million total in retention payments, according to the school, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. He’s not just an immoral quitter, but also a traitor after resigning at the University of Florida, not once but twice, and then leaving for supposedly the sake of his health.

The funniest thing is that Meyer feels this is the best job in America and that the fans are the best in America. Please, don’t tell me you buy into his untruthful words, just because he was willing to accept the Ohio State coaching job, one with many headaches and much stress. In the coming days, we’ll hear that he’s mentally fatigued and burnt out from coaching, particularly when times turn rough, if you already know Meyer. Of course, if he doesn’t build a product at Ohio State and abolish the mediocrity as disappointing as it has been in Columbus, he’ll prefer to relieve himself of his duties and step down from the challenge.

But what is perplexing about this, by Meyer deciding to take over at Ohio State, is that he came back just 10 months after he said he was leaving Florida to spend more time with his family and care for his obscure health issues. It’s almost a cliché that he was a man of family values, one in which he vowed to devote his time to family obligations with his wife, Shelley, and his three kids. This is not what we wanted right now, a so-called family man who is ailing with illnesses -- taking on another coaching gig and then suddenly renege in the end unable to handle the stress and headaches if the program struggles from futility.

So there was Meyer, in his black suit and red tie, announced as the new head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football program at a press conference Monday afternoon, as cameramen snapped photos and reporters pontificated the hiring. It’s hard to understand the variations of his mind, whether he’s committed to the profession of coaching, and whether he has the sense of pride or self-respect for a football program. The spinning wheel is forever circling inside Meyer’s mind and, this time, the wheel stopped in Ohio State’s direction. Before his arrival, he turned around Utah with his hard-driven style and spread-option that cultivated the Utes.

Long ago, he was part of the Utes ripening into national contention, capturing a BCS victory in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and developing quarterback Alex Smith, who became a No. 1 draft pick of the NFL Draft. As one of the most decorated coaches in college sports — despite his flip-flopping – Meyer spent six years at Florida, winning two BCS titles. The specifics of his retirement gave him time to spend with his family and attend his daughter’s volleyball games. During his days spent at Florida, he couldn’t balance the schedule and the coaching task at the university, which may have led to his departure.

But then again, it’s so vague that we really don’t know what to believe. Just when we thought he was tired of coaching, although we should have known that his un-retiring ideas were likely, he’s not working as an ESPN analyst but as a college football coach. We wanted to believe he was a devoted 47-year-old husband and father of three, but he is more than just a family man of college football coaches. He is, however, a liar and hard to believe.

You can’t trust him, if your life depended on it. But in every way, that is, he accepted a demanding assignment, now the coach on one of the nation’s most storied programs, one that has won seven national championships and seven Rose Bowls while producing seven Heisman Trophy winners. It’s on him to turn around a premier program bothered by the well-publicized infractions, but he won’t be the curer if he lies and calls another emotional press conference, reducing to tears during the announcement.

At his news conference Monday afternoon, he said, “Health-wise, I feel great. Our objective is to make the state of Ohio proud.”

He said that at Florida. We shouldn’t know what to believe.

As he grew up in Ashtabula — a town about 200 miles from Columbus — rooting for the Buckeyes and attending college at Cincinnati and beginning his coaching career at Ohio State as a graduate assistant under Earle Bruce, he said that he would have only accepted this job. It’s a rarity that coaches leave positions for family and then take on another coaching job months later, but on the bright side of things, he’s at home.

“It’s a great opportunity to come back to my home state,” he said.

I can’t tell whether he’s lying.

Guess it’s needless to say that he is 104-23, including his 22 record in two seasons at Utah in 2003 and 2004 in 10 seasons as a head coach. He is, without question, one of the best coaches in football, but he is just misleading and enigmatic. It will take savvy recruiting and rebuilding if Meyer is aiming to add national titles. As for the stunning retiring and lies every so many months, citing health issues and that he is devoted to spend more time with his family, this is a hiring that remains in limbo, a hiring that can’t be trusted and a hiring of wariness. Meanwhile, Meyer, who has lost an abundance of credibility and prestige for his bad decorum, is the wrong man to try to repair a program’s image.

To state the obvious, Meyer is a LIAR!! And here it is, he is a two-faced liar, accepting a job where much is expected of him. If he underachieves, there’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the most scrutinized coaches of collegiate athletics. It’s good to assume, I suppose, that life is just as tough in the Big Ten Conference. Meyer, on the other hand, moved from a tougher conference to a lighter one, but still it doesn’t become any easier for him, particularly if he doesn’t manage the effects of stress. At anytime now, he could step down and leave the university emotionally again after misleading the athletic program the entire time. At this time, he feels he can balance a healthy life and a tense job that comes with much pressure.

“I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect,” Meyer said. “I didn’t feel right. But I feel fantastic now.”

Let’s see how long he’ll feel fantastic. I’m not convinced, and neither should you.

“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” said Meyer, a native of Ohio.

Sorry, not buying into this inanity, after he clearly stated that he wouldn’t coach anywhere else but Florida. He broke his promises, deceived an entire university, lied to their faces, and now everyone in Gainesville should be hoodwinked and betrayed by Meyer’s BS words. This season alone interim coach Luke Fickell, who took over when Jim Tressel stepped down for breaking NCAA rules of infamous violations, carried the Buckeyes to a 6-6 season and helped them qualify for a bowl game. There is nobody that we’ve heard of more incredulous than Meyer.

He lies so much, that he can’t even tell a straight one. The guy running the program right now, which is Fickell, who will stay as an assistant to Meyer, is more trustworthy than his new boss. It wasn’t necessary for Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith to hire Meyer when there were other candidates available. However, he had a conversation with Meyer about the coaching job by phone on Nov. 20 and then they met face-to-face three days later.

Not too long ago, he responded to reports saying that he had “not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place.”

It was too good to be true. Whatever happened to the time he went to the hospital after a game for heart problems? Not to say it was, but that may have been a lie, too

What is true about Meyer is that he’s a liar. And to this day, he hasn’t learned to tell the truth openly and publicly.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Basketball Is Back? NBA Parties Finally Compromise, Cede Egos

The labor talks no longer echo through our minds, sweeter than ever, as the players are back to the hardwood already to save half of the NBA season possibly and, you know, maybe even stand as a purpose in humankind. It took a 15-hour negotiation between NBA and player representatives in New York that lingered into early Saturday morning to end the long-suffering of an impasse.

This was, the work stoppage that is, enough to postpone half of the season, enough to spawn reactions of fans, exasperated and indifferent by a lockout in an age of the most fragile economic downturn. If this is finally over and concludes a preposterous 149-day work stoppage that subverted the competitive nature and the integrity of the game, then we’ll probably see exhibitions or Christmas Day games for season-openers. It’s all resolved in time before the cancellation of games had torpedoed and depreciated over time to further reduce earnings, downsizing jobs amid a recession with all the devoted attention on amortization for every franchise.

And although it took long enough, by now thousands of ushers are relieved to finally assist visitors in venues to their seats. Thank goodness concession stand workers can breathe a sigh of relief, whereas bartenders can serve drinks at the local bars and grills. The desperate fans, at long last, can buy unsold tickets from scalpers standing outside of events, often reselling them from brokers’ offices at extravagant prices.

This puts everyone back in business, a better strategic position for gaining profit – and potentially, all people are winning now that the parties have resolved their differences. The basketball season is upon us, and right on time, the sides came to their senses and realized the repercussions had they not acted proactively. The loss of 16 regular-season games and the preseason cost the owners and players about $400 million.

After nearly four months in rejecting the estimate 50-50 revenue split that owners and players reached a tentative deal on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, ultimately the NBA made progress to avoid the shame of becoming the second North American sports league to forfeit an entire season. The lack of movement from owners for months, many of whom were stubborn and reluctant in compromising, was for the sake of a better league and owners weren’t afraid to cancel a season. Like most owners, they were selfishly manipulated by their huge egos.

It’s folly to suggest that owners’ wallets had began to shrink all for greed and ego, an issue that has ruined the integrity and goodwill, not recognizing that a canceled season would have taken years for the league to recover and restore a damaged image. The parties knew it was imperative to curtail the nonsense, greediness and selfishness, and nobody really knows whether a 66-game schedule that begins with three eventful games on Christmas will actually bring more titillation.

And unlike most, Derek Fisher, the players’ union president, came to his senses at last, so the league can salvage what is left of the season – or at least protect the association from an absolute collapse. Suppose it could have been worse. If so, the game could have been ruined by finances and egos, but then the parties decided to ratify a deal before it was too late. The man also behind this has been Billy Hunter, the union’s executive director. The other man behind this has been commissioner David Stern, an unrelenting and disciplinary overseer, who might have fortified his mystified legacy.

Get this, the NBA is back.

This is all fine and dandy, especially when each week left us guessing the fate of the season. There was a time, of course, when it seemed that the ultimate Christmas gift was never on the list until the NBA made a list and checked it twice, eradicating fuss and bloated egos. And to see as the players and owners kissed and compromised, putting aside an endless fight essentially settling a deal that includes rougher luxury taxes, shorter guaranteed contracts and reduced mid-level exception to as a few as three years, it was understanding the two sides ceded ego and selfishness.

Suffice to say that they were more attentive as they exercised the significance of growth. And, really, Fisher and Hunter were responsible for getting the deal done, well, most of it anyway. The NBA season, once in shambles and under attack by raging fans, is lifted from the lockout and scheduled to begin on the next holiday, suddenly the industry distinguished for handling business timely.

The fear and anxiety has been released, finally, removing the bleakness – though Fisher requested to take the 50/50 split of basketball related income while Hunter insisted on rejecting the propose deal. Furthermore, when the time was right, they both reached a settlement in the best interest of the league, not only for themselves. There will always be plenty of blame on Fisher and Hunter, but after all each of them were fully alert and reached an agreement. There won’t be a missed season and $2 billion is sitting on the table for players, along with the highest average salary in North American sports history.

If not for Hunter, the union would have spent millions on lawyers involved in litigation. This league has competitive balance for the NBA, and now LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony among them are smiling.

Even If Neuheisel Beats USC, His Firing Is Logical

A thick layer of fog blanket parts of the community, a neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles and roams quietly across the prominent university, silhouetting a football program largely doomed to failure. The bad culture altogether has perpetually led to dissatisfaction under head coach Rick Neuheisel, who has been catching fire for a long time.

At this point, winning is not a remedy and it merely becomes a matter of time before Neuheisel is canned to end laughably a lousy tenure. It’s a good thing UCLA might part ways with the former Bruins quarterback for clearly sending the university into a downfall, but also for not stabilizing the nature within the most decorated athletic program. The same is not true about Neuheisel. He is not the most decorated. In one downcast sense, he is truly a flamboyant person, not the finest coach, not even a solid recruiter.

For what it turns out to be, though he is a nice person who has a place in history with a program he once quarterbacked, Neuheisel was never the voice of the Bruins. The gravity of failures, and grisly so – under his coaching stint when he was expected to lift the program into supremacy, can’t turn any worse unless he is enabled to protect his job security for whatever reason.

While he was given the job, in his best interest of the program when he was brought in mainly for being one of the finest names to the institution, he failed so badly and watched a program fall into bedlam. His dedication and qualifications were enough when he landed the coaching gig so easily in weeks after speculations snowballed, and after accepting a task of demands and expectations that he never surmounted beyond.

What’s notable is he personified the inability of this feeble program in Division I football, he epitomized awful leadership and recruiting that smudged the landscape and wasn’t enough encouragement to embolden his players. Hardly a week passes without Neuheisel’s job security called into question as much curiosity focuses on what his future beholds at UCLA, where he has not recruited vigorously, where his strategies have backfired and decisions fizzled.

It’s time for him to relinquish the Bruins, and so with that in mind, the clock is ticking on Neuheisel. If USC wins Saturday, with Neuheisel running out of time to mend his woes, it’d probably be the last game he ever coaches at UCLA. Except one can argue that Neuheisel, who has yet to beat the Trojans with an 11-21 conference record, can consider his season a success if he finally defeats his crosstown rivals. The man rarely goes a day without hearing that he’s never beaten USC, taking the criticism and still chasing the Trojans for his first victory in three seasons.

In a larger sense, UCLA has lost 11 of the last 12 games to USC, along with the last three under Neuheisel, entering into Saturday’s game. All is well for the Bruins, particularly if they win to assure a berth in the Pac 12 Conference Championship game. It’s time to grin, realizing that Utah lost to Colorado Friday, which gave UCLA the right to represent the South Division even with a loss to the Trojans.

The Bruins, a team with a bad season, merely 21-27 under Neuheisel in three seasons for struggles and uncertainty, would place themselves in position to settle for a decent bowl game.

The irony here is, though he’s an alumni and surprisingly carried UCLA to the highest level with Pac 12 teams losing to drop in the rankings, his body of work vanished quicker than ever. As of now, Neuheisel and the Bruins are fighting for survival and it is sadly the end, much too late for him to save his job.

But these inadequacies are from the motives behind Neuheisel, for scolding at his quarterbacks after mistakes, which escalated into sideline confrontations with his starter Kevin Prince. The ill-treatment of his quarterback started an unsteady coach-and-quarterback relationship.

Face it, Bruins faithful. Football is lifeless in one of the wealthiest regions and will never advance to new heights as long as Neuheisel is the Bruins voice of havoc and misfortune. Nearing his last days, after seasons of embarrassment, he has been supported and held his position, as athletic director Dan Guerrero is overly fascinated by Neuheisel even when he underachieved in his coaching job. Guerrero could have taken the easier path and jettison him a long time ago. And for what it’s worth, a notion that his predecessors were more capable, the Bruins were better when Karl Dorrell or even Bob Toledo was coaching.

There is nothing, aside from all the Neuheisel disruptions, as fun as a crosstown rivalry in which UCLA and USC are taking on each other, fighting for total domination, bragging rights and applicability, in a hostile territory surrounded by the boorish crowd at the Coliseum. The decision – or, in this instance, of firing him is possible and if so UCLA would have to buy out the final year of his $1.25 million contract a year, including buyouts for some of his coaches on staff.

This is the week he can finally beat USC, a school looking to extend its five-game winning streak against the Bruins.

This is the week Neuheisel can finally gain success.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sidney Crosby Is Rising Star for Hockey

If Sidney Crosby hasn’t noticed, he is the beloved son of Pittsburgh, much like the Steelers are greatly loved in the same town. The winter months never felt so pleasant, now that Sid the Kid warms up the hockey season and fuels a furnace inside the Consol Energy Center. He is like an intense flame on frozen water, a star on ice, the face of hockey — turning a venue into a playoff-like atmosphere.

Crosby, who missed nearly a year due to a concussion, returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday for an exceptional debut in a 5-0 shutout of the New York Islanders at a venue that doesn’t seem like the Igloo. His return should, therefore, raise fear and be taken into consideration after leading the Penguins, while all eyes were directly on Crosby.

This may have been the week when hockey became relevant, and when the Penguins reclaimed normalcy. Fans are pumped up as Crosby is back and healthy. Now, especially with him back, the Penguins seem lethal — and perhaps — even more physical and energized. Every once in a while, such as his fantastic comeback after recovering from a severe blow to the head, Crosby reminds everyone that he’s the greatest on ice and skates his way to brilliance in an eye-popping performance.

When he returned to the ice for the first time in nearly a season, after sitting out for 320 days with concussion-like symptoms, it almost felt like the Stanley Cup Finals. The reason for this, as Crosby is the biggest star in the game, is because he is the most gifted player ever — at least in Canada — where he is virtually an icon flattered by every hockey fan. And as the rest of us are intrigued by the hype, the comeback that built excitement, the time has come for Crosby, 24, returning to usual form and looking healthy.

So what exactly is the big deal?

If so many people are willingly cheering for Crosby, who hasn’t played since Jan. 5 after he was injured on a hit by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman, then it is clear that the folks glorify him. With him back, the game itself has ballooned in popularity. If he’s not around, hockey seems unwatchable and pedestrian.

In other words, Crosby saves the game from itself. At a time when he clearly showed that he has fully recovered, finishing with two goals and two assists, he looked awfully good. Very seldom do we see an unbelievable performance from a player who almost missed an entire season. Very seldom do we see a hockey star have an impact on the first night of his return after battling a concussion.

It doesn’t matter that Crosby is probably the only sensational NHL player in the public’s eye right now. He’s a star on the rise, and when he was just a rookie, Crosby was named the Penguins’ captain. What does matter is that he represents hockey in a good way, a game that almost died but had been revived by his presence, heroics and perfection.

The public was utterly in love with his ability to blow by Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald and score his first goal in 328 days. Faced with pressure and burdens, the reality was that Crosby had been longing for this moment, watching his teammate Brooks Orpik beat Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson after Crosby, of course, fired a well-executed pass to him.

The thing is, it would be an insult to discount the Penguins, who can hold the Stanley Cup above their heads. Mario Lemieux is now the current team owner, and Pittsburgh is where Crosby is a superstar, following the footsteps of the Hall of Famer, Lemieux.

The stakes were high, and he wisely took precautionary actions, knowing the way his body would react to concussions. The best news is that Crosby appears to be robust after his intermission, and he certainly was his normal self Monday night. It wasn’t like he was ideally efficient when shooting the puck, but he was close to perfect, scoring on his first shot.

This is what builds on a remarkable legacy, one that consist of greatness from just one performance — beginning with his first shot. It was, in many ways, spectacular and refreshing. It was, however, a game where he sent a statement, informing the world that he’s healthy and conscious. It was a great play and it contributed to the Penguins victory, as the best moment came on an extraordinary backhander from Crosby.

It was likely one of his utmost performances as a hockey superstar, a lovable guy in Pittsburgh and a solid franchise player. Fans love him. Other players love him, too. Much has happened since he has arrived to the NHL, with him incredibly making an impact and popularizing the game. The Penguins, who escapes from the mediocrity, are fun to watch. The defining moment for Crosby came quickly. It took no time for him to find his touch and be a factor, setting up two goals and scoring on the last goal with his effective backhander.

“A game like tonight, you run on adrenaline,” Crosby said during an interview on Versus. “The next few games it will start to set in and it will be tougher.”

This was all about Crosby, setting the tone for his teammates. This was all about Crosby, putting his team in position to win. And at the end of the night, the Penguins prevailed. Over a tense, physical three hours of fun, he was hit multiple times, he attempted eight shots and won 14 of 21 face-offs, a splendid effort at home where flashbulbs went off and where the reaction made his presence felt on the ice.

Standing near the New York net while the Penguins had a power-play opportunity, Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic turned and noticed Crosby by his goaltender, and sent him crashing to the ice. This wasn’t just a way to fire him up, but a way to test his body in his first game back. After the fall, Crosby quickly bounced back to his feet without confrontation. He was, as the Islanders never had an answer for the Penguins, the best player out there — competing to be the very best in pursuit of another Stanley Cup.

His teammate, defenseman Zbynek Michalek, was brilliant himself. The Penguins played as a balanced team for the first time this season. The disciplined goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, eyed the puck from every angle and shut down the net, finishing the night with 29 saves. Crosby was not the only one having an awesome night, though, and he had reinforcements. Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and had an assist. Steve Sullivan, in the second period, scored on a goal and finished on a terrific passing play from James Neal to Malkin to Sullivan for a tap-in.

But more than ever, this was the greatest hockey star who earned the nickname “Sid the Kid.” It’s his psyche and talent that sets Crosby apart from other players, finishing with two goals, two assists and eight shots on net. Last season, he was the NHL scoring-leader with 66 points in 41 games, but he took severe hits to the head in consecutive games and suffered from dizziness and headaches having a confused state of mind.

He wasn’t uninspired nor unprepared, even though he missed a total of 68 games — including the playoffs. He is ready for the toughest task this season, inspiring the crowd to chant loudly. For no one more than coach Dan Bylsma, he feels good about the Crosby craze, and somehow he is amazed by it. He is ready for a double dose.

“It’s a feel I hope to get used to for more than just one game,” Bylsma said.

“Crosby! Crosby! Crosby!”

This is an unreal hockey story, not even close to the Miracle on Ice, but it ranks up there with it. And yes, the place was crazy. Crosby is back.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tebow Quiets His Doubters

It’s a good thing Denver is that much closer to heaven. For although the Mile High City is closer to heaven, for a humbled specimen who strongly worships God, Tim Tebow feels he’s closer to home, a place he embraces dearly.

He won the game for the Broncos, praising the man above, quieting his critics in a prime time showdown against the Jets. While many people doubted him, cynics who were never too fond of the unproven star, those folks are now dropping their jaws, watching an evangelistic figure install trust and faith within an organization that suddenly welcomes Tebow with open arms.

That’s because he’s producing wins, and even as a prolific quarterback, has uplifted promise and buoyancy. In Tebow we trust – in Tebow Denver trust, a community impressed by his work ethic and attitude to win games, entering each week with a sense of humility and poise.

But across the country, he’s probably the most polarizing athlete who is denied, despite that he is truly a hero in a fun-loving town where the population reveres football as a ritual – like a religion almost only one known as Tebow Mania.

With 58 seconds left, he saw the blitz, he saw the bull-rushing defenders storming toward him, and then cut back and darted past Jets’ defenders into the end zone. Whether you doubt him or endorse him, and believe he’s not good enough to be a quarterback, think again.

Watching the breathtaking finish, Broncos’ fans had a wild party in the stands – loud chants were heard throughout the stadium, the kind of decibels that rattled a feverish crowd. This after Tebow stood as a hero on the night he proved he was capable of being a star in this league.

That star was born when he escaped the hurried pressure, stormed his way past defenders and safety Eric Smith and ran into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown score, a game-winning play that negated doubt and criticism.

“We have a resilient team,” Tebow said after the Broncos 17-13 win over the Jets.

He brings a fairy tale feel to the folks in Denver, the same people who begged for head coach John Fox to play the kindhearted and zealous quarterback. This choice is benefiting Denver in every sense, from its revenue, inflating through the presence of an iconic figure as people in support of the Broncos purchase his No. 15 jerseys, buy tickets for games to witness Tebow close and personal and worship the burgeoning star who is fun to watch. He sent, in hindsight, the Broncos a third straight victory, and now they are 4-1 since Tebow replaced Kyle Orton.

In most cases, not advertised as a franchise quarterback with his unbalanced throwing motion, by being an aggressor set on that he can lead the Broncos, he works harder each day and spend ample time in the weight room. In one of the most exciting finishes, Tebow is unsatisfied, anxious to watch film and evaluate what he can accomplish and where he can improve in his game.

The impact of his confidence and heroics lifted the Broncos, but it’s not good enough for Tebow. He’s not being ungrateful, a blessed man who is thankful for his heroism and dexterity, but he is willing to arrive for practice the next day and improve his mechanics to eventually evolve into an elite quarterback. But even so, he is unselfish not only thinking about himself and instead aiming to produce wins for his teammates and the coaching staff which actually believes in him.

It’s hard to sugarcoat, for what’s been an experiment as the Broncos were able to find out what Tebow had to offer, that he’s a gifted football player with intangibles, fortitude and personality in leading his team. It’s always a feel-good story anytime an athlete or role model influence kids with his mellifluous messages that eloquently sends powerful advice to children.

It’s always a feel-good story anytime a beloved athlete is embraced, not only for his intrepidity on the field but his encouragement to give back to others, such as preaching to inmates in prisons, donating to charities, circumcising children in the Philippines where he’s done plenty of missionary work. It’s always a feel-good story anytime a man is loved for, not only being a star player but announcing his foundation was building a children’s hospital in the Philippines.

On that final drive, as the clock ran down, Tebow crossed the goal line for the game-winner, one fans in Denver will talk about for decades to come. If there was anyone more exhilarated, it was John Elway standing and applauding his second-year quarterback after an incredible finish.

Maybe it was good to make a transition from Orton to Tebow, now that the Broncos have won three games in 12 days and have the best 5-5 record, currently at .500 and moved within the AL West division race.

If not for Tebow, this game was boring to watch. If not for him, this game was putting everybody to sleep. If not for Tebow, it was more fun to stare at people in a pie eating competition, rather than spend so much time watching two mediocre teams try to find themselves.

God bless the 95-yard drive. That set up Tebow’s remarkable run to the end zone, but more importantly, it quieted all his doubters, his skeptics who said he’d never be NFL-caliber. Proves they were wrong. Proves he is stunning the entire world with his wills.

Proves he is stunning the entire world with his stamina and speed. Proves he is succeeding effectively like when he led Florida to back-to-back national championships, won a Heisman award and lastly was selected by the Broncos in the 2010 NFL Draft.

“I said before, I trust him. I trust him with everything,” teammate Von Miller said about Tebow. “No matter how many interceptions he throws, no matter how many touchdowns he throws. I’m going to ride him to the end. I hope he shut up a bunch of his critics today.”

I think he has silenced many of his critics.

Evidently so, he is the devout Christian who advertises his faith, defying wisdom and all odds that quiets many disbelievers. The time came when he was built to bull his way into the corner of the end zone and celebrate with his exhilarating teammates. Running a rare style of offense, a description the other quarterbacks are not exploiting in their game plans, Tebow has functioned brilliantly and completed 9 of 20 passes for 104 yards Thursday night.

Given that he has produced three fourth-quarter comeback victories in his eight overall starts, which he is becoming a clutch performer in the league and urging us to witness miraculous finishes, Tebow is the star in the Broncos future.

“You got to give the kid credit,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said unsurely.

Yes, he deserves all credit. He doesn’t deserve criticism, but regards and appreciation. Fair enough.

This, however, was a lousy game to begin and the Broncos played like they were on a planet called the Lost World. The Broncos sputtered offensively, for the first 54 minutes and advanced within scoring position multiple times but only came away with three points. The lone touchdown came by Andre Goodman’s 26-yard interception return. Later on, Jets’ Nick Folk drilled a 45-yard field goal that broke a 10-10 tie.

That’s when the Broncos’ fans waited patiently for Tebow to create magic and indeed he rebounded with the last laugh on the night. But not before Eddie Royal called for a fair catch on a punt at the Broncos 5-yard line with 5:54 remaining. It was all on Tebow, and again, he prevailed. For a series of plays, he completed a pass for 8 yards to Royal on first down and Tebow ran for 15 yards.

It’s as if angels were with him at every step of the way, throwing another pass for 9 yards and advanced out to the Broncos 37. And yet, after he completed some passes, Tebow rushed for yards and connected on an 18-yard throw. Everyone was left to wonder, until he pushed to the 20 and then leveled his way into the end zone.

It’s definitely fair to admit that he’s also getting help from his supporting cast and the Broncos’ defense has played sensationally. In the end, he was mobbed by his teammates and fans chanted proudly. Shortly after, he dropped to one knee and sent his thanks to the man above by saying a brief prayer.

“In Tebow we trust.”

Yes, in Tebow they trust.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dear America: Don’t Ignore the Niners

There’s much noise or certitude in the air from the contrived framework, just a renaissance era to focus on, surprisingly as the San Francisco 49ers own the spotlight in the NFC West.

More impressively, after a hard-fought 27-20 win over the Giants in the Bay Area to complete a late Sunday afternoon meeting, the Niners improved to 8-1 and control their own destiny.

It’s evident enough that the Niners, favored to clinch a playoff berth when they eventually will win the NFC West, could be on the verge of possibly flourishing as Super Bowl contenders like how the flowers bloom at Golden Gate Park – the haven of sculptures and bridges.

Hey, you. Yes, you. The Niners are real, as scary as it gets.

There’s no overkill in romanticizing the Niners. As of now, the Niners are more impressive than visiting Lombard Street, which is one of America’s crookedest streets with a steep, hilly street of sharp curves. But nothing is sharper than the Niners themselves, the hottest team in the league, hotter than the slew of women walking the pier to sight-see, dine and shop.

And, then again, maybe Pier 39 is not as crowded with much activity, at least on Sundays when the Niners have been the talk of the town, the social attribute of a town that prides itself on football given the many legends and mystique. This fascinating view comes from the recent success that the Niners have shown amid the emergence of reinstalling the good flashbacks of history, defining the nature of an adroit franchise.

It’s not in the Niners’ best interest to miss the playoffs, not unless a fatal collapse occur weeks from now, haunting them, leading to the craziest debacle in sports -- how the Niners could be attacked harshly from criticism. Just so you know, as of now – with emphasis on the resurgence of this team – it’s not a mirage if the Niners test wills and advance in history with an improbable Super Bowl appearance, all of the sudden bound to reach a crescendo on the national stage very soon.

It would be a surprise, for those who only glance at teams on paper and not legitimately, if the Niners shimmer on the biggest stage — on America’s national holiday — win it all and celebrate in glee. This means, if we examine this team closely, the Niners are not the underdogs or sleepers but maybe a Super Bowl contender.

But, really, no more are the Niners a pushover or the flukiest team, returning to the old times when San Francisco would purely dominate the NFC West, if not the league with the plentitude of weapons from offense to defense. There’s no need for excuses, no need to dwell too much on the fiascoes in the past, now that the post-Singletary era is behind them, relieving themselves of misfortunes for a once flawless franchise that spiraled out of control under former head coach Mike Singletary.

His successor, Jim Harbaugh, has embraced his role since his arrival in San Francisco for this season. He’s hardly an underachieving coach with traits that benefits his team’s effort and growth this season under his tenure.

It’s been a while since the Niners have had a coach with a fiery and fervid demeanor, and even though he’s slightly cocky or self-indulgent, Harbaugh is installing motivation and intimidation. That being said, his players are bullying and putting fear on team’s minds, unafraid to alienate and neutralize opponents as we’ve seen Sunday when the Niners squarely defeated the Giants, who entered the game with the NFC’s third best record.

For it turned out to be no fluke, but a game where San Francisco validated its league’s place rising into a championship-caliber unit each week. Never before have the Niners been so fantastically hungry, forceful and sentimental in pursuit of greatness – and so wonderfully delivering near-perfection. It’s good to know Harbaugh’s hiring, not only produced a quality of wins but also revitalized the culture, persuading folks now to think largely of the Niners and the hurried resurrection.

Their fairy tale ended in a blink, a hallucination that no longer exists, justifiably identified as one of the deepest, if not the favorable contenders in the meantime come playoffs.

The Niners, however, are fully aware of this, building a potent passing game around the much-improved Alex Smith, who had driven his team in a comeback after Giants quarterback Eli Manning tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham late in the third quarter.

Though he is not always consistent, his opportunity to validate years of doubts ended and Smith had completed at least three passes to four different receivers, not having trouble with ball security or ill-advised throws for turnovers.

He has remarkably matured, which is not so surprising in a way, knowing he was sent to the showers early by his former coach for his defiance. That alone, with his stellar size and speed, has turned Vernon Davis into, by far, one of the elite tight ends in the game today.

That’s very true. It was his goal, at the very least, to become a dependable tight end. He is, however, fun to watch and dances through the defense of his young career, catching three passes for 40 yards with a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Giants. He was targeted, the first of which he emerged into the go-to receiver directly contributing to his team’s restoration this season, and amazingly leaped over safety Kenny Phillips into the end zone to finish a 31-yard touchdown catch that gave the Niners an early fourth quarter lead.

Can anyone stop the Niners?

It doesn’t seem that way.

This time, in another celebration, Harbaugh was polite in his postgame handshake, and then stared into the crowd pointing and waving to his cheerful fans while leaving for the exit at Candlestick Park.

On a sunny afternoon, on a day when it wasn’t gloomy or overcast, it was just perfect for football. Near the end, as the clock trickled, Justin Smith swatted down Manning’s pass, and only moments later, he excitedly pumped his fist after his game-saving play defensively. If indeed the Niners can hold on to a five-game cushion in the division, for what it seems now, then San Francisco could actually be the team to beat, particularly if they possess Frank Gore, one of the finest running backs in the league with a franchise record streak of five consecutive games with 100 yards rushing that ended.

Looking like a speedster, faster than the Road Runner utters his obnoxious “beep, beep,” he has had a singular season – accomplishments like no other but he sustained a knee injury and his first game of his outstanding career with minus yards. This time around, Kendall Hunter ran the ball for a 27-yarder in the fourth, feeding on the opportunity from Carlos Rogers’ momentum booster when he caught an intercepted pass and danced afterwards. So, it would be about place kicker David Akers, for who booted four field goals that kept the Niners in the game.

“It was a big win for us. As we continue to win we’re getting on a bigger stage, and that’s exactly what we want, we want to continue to climb and get on bigger stages,” Smith said. “That’s it. You’re as good as your record, and you’re as good as your last game. And we beat a really good football team.”

Yes sir. But realize it would be unwise to underestimate the Niners.

It is getting to be nice, if you like the Niners.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It Will Take Years Until Penn State Repairs Image

This wasn’t a friendly farewell, but an ugly divorce for the university’s most lovable icon, a town ambassador portrayed as the symbol of Penn State– and nonetheless – was fired for not doing enough to protect the school’s identity.

There are assumptions behind this, assumptions that commenced alleged crimes of sexual assaults involving underage victims, and sadly the non-supporters have pointed their fingers at Joe Paterno, the moral compass of college football – the father-figure of Penn State for 46 years. He was embarrassed in the end, left the game emotionally and became aloof to the game he coached for half a century amid a horrendous sex scandal that has tarnished his legacy.

It’s a tragedy, an unprecedented tragedy that stunned the nation, a horrifying scandal that will always overshadow the old man’s feats and longevity as the winningest coach in Division I history. It’s not about football; it’s about the victims, which is the explanation for Paterno’s firing.

The board of trustees dismissed Paterno shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday night for not reporting Jerry Sandusky, his former defensive coordinator and pedophile arrested on 40 counts of molesting eight boys.

His firing impetuously triggered a State College riot in the community, where raging protesters gathered in anguish on the streets serenading loudly, angry and saddened Paterno had been fired over the phone – not even given an ultimatum to resign or announce an early retirement.

In reference to Paterno’s cessation, which was grotesque and destructive toward a 46-year affair with a regal football program that crumbled under his decree of bad judgment by refusing to report a crime as the scandal was unreported, Penn State students mobbed the streets and tipped over a news van.

The other night, while the scurrilous, angry Penn State supporters by the thousands waved phones and roared for nearly three to four hours with bullhorns and a series of chants, many raised candles in a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of sexual abuse. It was about the victims, not football, to some. It was about solidarity for the victims, not rioting a community because the legend wasn’t given an opportunity to save his job.

Some were vandals, while others were peacemakers at a somber moment, a time to heal and mourn after the allegations were publicly revealed that stunned the people in the most unprecedented week in college sports, if not the most infamous episode to poison a university in need now of a recovery.

It’s now the time to clean house, purge all the traces of corruption, from a rogue crime that will take years to rid when Penn State is beyond repair after educators enabled a child molester to stain the imagery of an institution suddenly marked by the messes.

There were many, such as the other night cheering happily and were satisfied to see Paterno relieved of his duties, outraged by the incident of sexual activities that involved minors. For many years, it will take time, as many suspect Paterno had much to hide covering up the truth and protecting his longtime friend, to repair from a horrible scandal that ruined Penn State’s program.

Many of whom are mad of the recent allegations, grasp a bad vibe that he condoned the series of sexual assaults happening during his tenure. For what it was, at least for what it seemed, he had been accused as if he was the sexual predator more than Sandusky himself, only for representing everything Penn State symbolizes.

Though he’s still the most beloved senior citizen in a small community that sent much thanks to Paterno for all he has done in his reign as head coach, whether it was serving as a mentor or father figure for children or enriching one of the winningest programs in school history, he is also not taken to kindly by few.

He’s marked forever, not only for not reporting the alleged molestation but for possibly protecting the university’s brand name, or even protecting the university’s revenue and the plethora of scholarships or even his legacy as the teacher grooming young players, all while depicted as a moral compass.

It’s an unhappy ending to a tragic story in Happy Valley, also known as Unhappy Valley in just the past week when the board of trustees was forced to make an immediate culture transition, relinquishing on their longtime football coach and cutting ties with even Penn State president Graham Spanier.

This is much larger than a football program of excellence and an elderly man’s legacy, but it is apparent the Penn State kids don’t understand. The students are simply more concerned with football, than they are in sending their thoughts and prayers to those victims. When the Penn State students rioted at the campus on Horror Night, the irascible people acting like soulless, insensitive protesters in support of Paterno, we saw them dismissing an alleged scandal of madness and humiliation.

Rumor has it that Sandusky “pimped out” young boys from his Second Mile charity. What is unfortunate – and perhaps egregious in all of this – is that Sandusky cost his good friend, Paterno, his job now unemployed for Sandusky’s actions as Paterno ignored the allegations by not calling the police.

The blame falls in the lap of Sandusky in State College, an eerily region of poignant fans emotional in the aftermath of Paterno’s termination. As insanity had grown on that night, blinded by the scandal and overly in love with Paterno, not willing to end the marriage of downfalls, the crowd went insane and yelled, “F— Sandusky! “F— Sandusky!”

Shortly after, they blamed the media, “F— the media!”

Shortly after, they blamed the trustees.

They blamed anyone but Paterno, a beloved figure on Penn State campus. Thousands of kids poured onto the streets, crowding his house to send their thanks and reporters swarmed around his front porch to ask questions. The board of trustees failed to fire Mike McQueary, a Penn State assistant in the center of this scandal as well, but placed him on administrative leave. This was mishandled – and in many ways, it doesn’t make sense if Paterno was fired and McQueary wasn’t when he said he had seen a young boy being molested by Sandusky in the locker room’s shower in 2002.

His reaction was running from the problem instead of resolving the incident, waiting until the next day to call Paterno and meet him at his home. If McQueary refused to call the police and report a sexual assault, then why is he still employed?

Why isn’t he jobless? The favoritism really shows the true colors of Penn State, it really shows that they desire keeping McQueary even though he never called the police. He is, mind you, just as bad as Paterno or even athletic director Tim Curley.

Don’t you agree?

But he is worth credit for reporting an alleged crime to Paterno nine years ago. The saddest thing about it is, he wasn’t fired but salvaged his job. The fact is, Penn State is leery and too worried to fire him in the event he files a lawsuit. This alone, protects McQueary from losing his job, though he was afraid and stayed quiet too long regarding sexual activity at the university’s facilities.

People are horrified, on campus and off campus, over alleged crimes that tragically damaged Paterno’s untouched legacy. People are simultaneously cheering in glee as if he’s the hero, gathering outside of his house and raising honorable signs that read, “We Love You, Joe!!”

This, in hindsight, is all too bad for Penn State and absolutely devastating and, by now, JoePa wish he “had done more.” Surely, he does but it is much too late, now sitting on his couch at home jobless like many other unemployed Americans in our fragile economy. The position of overseeing the athletic department, assigned to Curley who has taken a leave of absence, should not be given to him. When he’s no longer on leave of absence, he should not return to his office.

The leverage was given to Paterno, demanding to keep his coaching gig for decades, until now. He refused to retire, until now. He wanted his way, until now. He had planned to retire at the end of the year, not now.

But he had no choice. It was time to leave, but it’s just too bad it had to end so sadly, so tragically and so ugly with a ruined legacy. As of recently, it was impossible to send Paterno home, away from football, something he loved truly but just allowed his job to slip away from him without taking full control of his program.

Even when the program was perpetuating along in inferiority before finally returning to splendor, he was the lone senior citizen standing on the sideline as a head coach in college football. It was all lost when the allegations came to light that a child molester was roaming Penn State.

This was one way to change the culture in State College, a way to finally get rid of Paterno, an elderly man who can now live the rest of his life, unfortunately with the memories of a sex scandal and his murky legacy.

If he could do it all over again, he would have done more. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact. As of now, Paterno is done with a crippled reputation, four games before the end of his 46th season at Penn State. This institution, a flagship school, is mired in disarray.

In this case, the university is under much scrutiny, marked for an infamous sex scandal that will always leave behind a stain as it will take years for Penn State to repair its image. This school no longer has power, the cleanest tradition and its meaning. As the school deteriorates slowly, none of the goodness exist – and is another episode of hypocrisy and conspiracy.

Winning won’t cure humanity, not even a sudden upgrade within the problematic institution. Even if Spanier and Curley are gone, the program still needs to relocate a spate of trust. Even if Gary Schultz and Paterno are gone, the school needs to find a spate of hope.

Get used to it. This will take years to repair.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paterno’s Once Faultless Legacy Turns Rotten

The perception we have of influential figures, especially in sports, too often wheedle the folks to believe athletes and coaches are beyond spotless in situations. Whatever the assumptions we have of Joe Paterno, a legendary head coach who is the winningest coach in Division I football history, he is stuck in the middle of a predicament.

These days, many of whom are dampened and saddened by the allegations of the infamous sex crimes at Penn State, he is in the center of a scandal that seems surreal. A statue stands tall outside of Beaver Stadium that exhibits the iconic figure, mostly deemed as the ambassador of the university and community ever since he arrived to coach Penn State in 1966. That iconic figure, in a culture that has suddenly crippled under his tutelage, is Paterno.

All week heavy talk has surrounded a sex abuse scandal that has incredibly demolished the university and its image, and as much as we’d hate to see Paterno exit with an obscure legacy, it would be very surprising if he survives the rest of the season as head coach. The notion that Paterno’s legacy will be sullied and smeared, when he cemented a feat that seemed untarnished and unprecedented after coaching Penn State for half a century, is conceivable with what’s happening — he rose as a motivational figure and drastically had fallen as a polarizing self.

It’s too sad — upon hearing that Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant, was charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span – that Paterno is unfairly blamed for the incident of sex crimes. The state of the university, as in any developing scandal that emerges in the public’s view, is leaving folks gathering facts on what really happened, on what he knew, on what more he could have done to stop the sex involvements by the then-assistant.

With all the hysteria, Paterno is betrayed for seemingly keeping the truth veiling and covering the sexual activities that took place under his tenure. He always has a coat and tie, cuffs rolled up and white socks with thick glasses, a trademark that has defined the stylish custodian in Happy Valley.

Just when we were beginning to forecast his place in history – a career built with distinction, remarkable accomplishments and exploits no other coach can replicate in years – the revelations of the horrendous scandal tattered his legacy.

He is older now, and wiser, but he’s been criticized harshly when others are involved in this incident as well, just not being polarized simply because they are not the symbol of what Penn State represents. He is, no matter what the naysayers or cynics believe, the most accomplished coach in the history of college football, yet his place in history is battered by the recent allegations.

What more could he have done to protect the university’s identity? Why didn’t he report the alleged child molestation to police? What does he know??

As much as Paterno is the focal point — becoming the greatest curiosity in a small town that idolizes him — as much as we’d like to know the truth, we may never know if he had knowledge of what had happened. The scandal took another twist on Wednesday for which Paterno, 84, announced he will retire at the end of the season and said that he was devastated.

“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said in the statement while announcing his retirement, which was released Wednesday morning. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

It’s too late.

It’s been a half of century and Paterno has preached achievements, but his legend was damaged sadly by the poor judgment from trustees, the coaching staff and the university’s president. What is still uncertain is whether the school’s board of trustees will force Paterno out the door or allow him to coach Saturday’s game against Nebraska. While few people reserve judgment, others vilify Paterno and graduate/assistant coach Mike McQueary for allowing the sexual assault without reporting it.

The grand jury, regarding this case, said McQueary witnessed Sandusky naked and molesting a 10-year old in the shower in the university’s facilities. He saw him shove his penis into the boy’s butt, and refused to stop it and decided to walk out without coming to the kid’s aid.

By the next day, McQueary took it upon himself and told Paterno, and then Paterno told them, but they ignored it. In fairness, it is essential to hold everyone accountable for acting inappropriately and mishandling a sex crime that went unreported. The other night, while Paterno rested peacefully in his home, students demonstrated their support of the senior citizen and crowded his house at dusk.

Of all the hearsay, Paterno is lambasted strongly by the media, scrutinized and betrayed for not doing enough to resolve the sex issues. The media circus interrogated him and his son, Scott, on Tuesday as Paterno tried to leave his home in peace for an afternoon practice with his players. There’s even been criticism from the Philadelphia Daily News when the headline read “SHAME” with Paterno featuring on the front page.

The university must come forth and dismiss McQueary, and for everyone else associated with Penn State, they should all step down except Paterno. But for the sake of the university, Paterno should not be walking the sideline on Saturday to coach on senior day at Beaver Stadium as it will draw too much of a ruckus with swarms of reporters pontificating and seeking answers at a press conference that will turn into a circus to steal the senior’s moment.

Although this seems silly and Paterno did what he was supposed to do, only not informing the president or authorities, he should take time off and then come back. When he told athletic director Tim Curley, who ignored the allegations and failed to react seriously, he then needed to tell the vice president Gary Schultz and Penn State president Graham Spanier.

This case is agonizing, and now that the culture is distrusted and blameworthy, Spanier needs to have a sense of pride and courtesy and resign. It’s an absolute shame that the general public urges Paterno to carry himself with honor and graciousness and resign by the end of the week, though he’s guilty by association and for actions from his former defensive coordinator. There is no way, in our insane, tangled society, no way will parents send their children to Penn State if this current staff is still directing the football program.

It’s devastating that a fine football program in America, a recognized university has fallen from grace all because Penn State officials mishandled a situation involving children being sexually abused. These allegations are sickening to our stomachs, perturbing our senses, sadly burning our hearts and souls as we are disheartened, stunned and mad to learn that children were molested at an institution.

“I’m so upset,” said the mother of a now 24-year-old identified as Victim Six by the grand jury. “My son is extremely distraught, and now to see how we were betrayed, words cannot tell you.”

Now, I’m getting infuriated over this senseless act.

It would now, in hindsight, be a good time for Penn State to change the culture immediately. The disgraced Curley was shamed by all of this that he chose to take a leave of absence to prepare for his defense. If anyone deserves much of the blame, it’s Curley – which is why he stepped down Monday after being charged with perjury and he also failed to report an alleged incident of child sex abuse. Just as recently, Curley and Schultz were arraigned Monday in a South Paxson, Pa. District Court and each were released after posting a $75,000 bail bond.

Meanwhile, Paterno’s 46-year reign is nearing its end as Happy Valley is renamed Infamy Valley. In the wake of the sex scandal, it has raised questions on campus but away from campus people are devastated, requesting for JoePa’s resignation, roughly asking him to make the respectable decision by stepping down from his duties. The moral standard in 2002 would have been to contact the police, but nobody – not one Penn State official called to report the incident.

The Paterno era is nearing its terminal, all because the situation was handled cowardly. Nobody had morals — everyone was apathetic and negligent about the sex crimes. Nobody had respect or admiration for the program. Nobody. They all failed as a university, from the trustees to the athletic department and now they can only blame themselves for such failure and humiliation.

When a child is molested, common sense tells you to call the police. Paterno told and nothing was done. It would be interesting to see, if he is cleared to coach Saturday, how the partisan crowd in Happy Valley will react when he emerges from the tunnel onto the field. As we should expect, he’ll be given a standing ovation and cheered like a town hero, and he is worthy of warm receptions.

The question is, will his legacy ever remain intact and will there be a celebration for his departure after his longevity and distinguished coaching career? Who would have thought that the end was near?

It is only fair to hold everyone accountable. So far, no one is pushing him out the door for partly sabotaging Penn State’s football program. But sadly, he won’t leave on his own terms.

If he is dismissed real soon, he’ll be remembered for the ruination of a well-established football program, but will he be remembered as the most successful coach?