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Penn State Football: Some Players Stand by Paterno; Others Take Wait-and-See Approach to NCAA Sanctions

by on July 14, 2012 9:12 AM

Here they were again, dressed in their blue and white, left answering questions about a scandal they had nothing to do with.

Members of the Penn State football team showed up at their annual Lift for Life event, their signature charity weightlifting and conditioning event that raises money for kidney cancer research, having been saturated with media coverage on TV, in print and online regarding the latest development in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Friday’s event came one day after former FBI director Louis Freeh’s independent investigation into the scandal laid blame on former football coach Joe Paterno and three top university officials for concealing allegations of Sandusky’s abuse out of fear of bad publicity for the university.

Few players commented on the 267-page Freeh Report or whether calls to tear down the bronze statue of their former coach are justified.

“It was the whole content that was just disturbing,” senior linebacker Gerald Hodges said. “I’ve got six nieces and nephews, so that’s very disturbing. I don’t even want to read it. I don’t want to think about it.”

It was not so easy avoiding comment on two issues that are more relevant to the team.

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1. Does Paterno’s involvement in the cover-up change their opinion of the coach?

2. Are they worried about the possibility of sanctions, be them self-imposed or from the hands of the NCAA, cutting short or, just maybe, eliminating their season?

“My opinion of him hasn't changed at all," senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. "I'm still a big supporter of Coach Paterno. He's one of the reasons why I came here. Nobody's perfect. No man is perfect at all."

Said junior running back Silas Redd: "He's the best college football coach of all time. That's all that matters, really. They didn't know him like we knew him. Opinions are opinions. Everybody is going to have one."

In terms of sanctions, senior quarterback Matt McGloin, among others, said the team wouldn’t concern itself with speculation.

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said.

“I’ll worry about if it comes,” sophomore defensive back Adrian Amos said. “I’m not too worried about it. I’m just playing and working out and getting prepared for the season.”

Remember, this is a team that was in uproar last December when multiple bowl committees passed on selecting the Nittany Lions because of the Sandusky scandal. Imagine the reaction to shutting down the program.

"You hear the death penalty and you think it really can't happen." Hill said. "But you just don't know what's going to happen.”

PSU head coach Bill O'Brien and members of the coaching staff were not present at Lift for Life to discuss the possibility of NCAA sanctions.

Only two assistant coaches, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, were retained from the Paterno regime.



Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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