Penn State Football: Questions Continue To Surround Upcoming John Bacon Book
John Bacon's book "Fourth and Long" has been one of the more anticipated works on college football for Penn State fans since Joe Posnanski published "Paterno". The book largely tells the story of the 2012 season as seen through the eyes of Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern football but provides interesting insight into the Nittany Lions final season under Joe Paterno.
On the Penn State side of things, Bacon uses a couple of first-hand sources including Nittany Lion favorites Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich. Excerpts that have been released early have led to plenty of conversations between Penn State fans prior to the book's official release in September. While no bombshells seem to grace the pages of Bacon's retelling of that historic season in Happy Valley it appears to provide readers with interesting insight between coaches, players and the administration in the final year of the Paterno era.
But as David Jones of the Patriot News has pointed out, some of these excerpts have already brought with them questions in terms of the accuracy of the stories told within the pages of the book. Most notably for Penn State fans the alleged recruitment of former running back Silas Redd by USC that included a limo ride with rapper Snoop Dog. USC strongly denied that claim in an official statement as well as Redd's father who Jones spoke with. (David Jones' report can be read here)
These are not the only known areas of dispute.
- A speech by Navy SEAL team member and former PSU walk-on player Rick Slater given to the Penn State team last summer has also come under fire after transcripts of the speech reportedly did not match the retelling of the story in Bacon's book.
- "But that only jacked us up, like we needed to get ready for the news, to prepare ourselves," recalled starting defensive lineman John Urschel."- John Urschel is on the offensive line.
Some issues with the stories have been fixed such as a the mention of former quarterback coach Jay Paterno sitting in the press box for a game he was on the sideline for. Early excepts read "Nebraska" where the game in question was actually against Illinois.
While some of these issues could be the result of material released early and not yet fully vetted, a reading of a longer excerpt of the book Thursday brings to light additional questions.
In a passage regarding a team meeting, one that was reported here by StateCollege.com in December of 2011, Bacon tells a story of athletic director David Joyner convincing the Nittany Lions to attend their bowl game.
The passage reads as follows:
"..Joyner made an ill-advised argument that, because the school had to pay the NCAA $60 million, the bowl payout was a good way to get some of that back. This elicited more sounds and comments from the players, and the meeting devolved from there. Players complained that Joyner had gone AWOL while the program was getting ripped by the national media, and Joyner repeated his list of accomplishments before becoming the acting athletic director."
Joyner's mention of the NCAA fine imposed on Penn State would have required Joyner to have known about the sanctions seven months prior to the NCAA's announcement in July of 2012. While conspiracy theories on the internet place Penn State's administration in bed with the NCAA, it seems unlikely that those theories are correct and that Joyner would let such a massive piece of information so casually slip out.
Ultimately the stories told by Mauti and Zordich quoted and first hand are insightful and paint a more detailed picture of some aspects of the winter of 2011, but as it stands today this highly anticipated work is currently not without its imperfections. The fully released excerpt can be read here.