Of course it would and why not? Lots of things going on at the University from the first national reports about Jerry Sandusky allegedly molesting children to school officials losing their jobs to coach Joe Paterno being fired, then the campus riots, followed by the first Nittany Lions game without the coach in more than 45 years. It’s been quite the whirlwind.
Writers Jon Wertheim and David Epstein investigation one particular accusation from an alleged victim and how the mushroomed to this point.
The preview of this week’s Sports Illustrated’s issue is below. It promises to be a rather explosive one. Plus, there are previews of other stories in this week’s issue both in print and in tablets.
A Special Report on the Failure and Shame of Penn State University
San Francisco’s Band of Misfits Has the 49ers Sitting Pretty at 8–1
He’s an NBA Champ with a Former Miss Universe for a Girlfriend; What’s Next for J.J. Barea?
Why Today’s Up-Tempo NHL May Spell Extinction for the Slap Shot
Before She Tries to Save Women’s Golf, Lexi Thompson Just Wants a Date to the Prom
(NEW YORK – Nov. 16, 2011) – The main headline on the cover of this week’s Nov. 21, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated (on newsstands now) reads The Failure and Shame of Penn State University. The cover story, co-written by senior writers L. Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) and David Epstein (@SIDavidEpstein), is an all-encompassing look at the fallout from and the events preceding the most explosive scandal in the history of college sports (page 40)
As part of their investigative work, Wertheim and Epstein spoke with the two coaches whose testimony set the scandal in motion. Steven Turchetta and Joe Miller were the coaches of the football and wrestling teams, respectively, at Central Mountain High in Mill Hall, Pa., when Jerry Sandusky started volunteer coaching for the football team in 2002. (Turchetta was also Central Mountain’s AD.) After Sandusky became a full-time volunteer in ’08, Turchetta had noticed that Sandusky got into yelling matches with students, and Turchetta would have to defuse the conflicts. He also found Sandusky to be “clingy” and “suspicious” with a freshman boy whom he had met through The Second Mile when the boy was 11 or 12. In 2009, the boy’s mother became suspicious when her son asked her about “sex weirdos.” When the boy met with Central Mountain’s principal shortly thereafter, he said that Sandusky had been sexually assaulting him. In addition, Miller had once seen Sandusky lying on a weight room floor, face-to-face with the same boy, with his eyes closed. When asked by investigators, both Turchetta and Miller gave precise and independent accounts of what they saw and heard.
Some residents in State College told Wertheim and Epstein that rumors of Sandusky’s alleged behavior had been marinating for years, long before the allegations from Central Mountain High. Says Rebecca Durst, who owns a barbershop near campus and says that her long-term clients include prominent Penn State administrators: “When [Sandusky] left, there was speculation about his behavior and young boys. This is a small town. It’s been in the rumor mill for a while.”
Wertheim and Epstein also describe how the isolation of Penn State from conference rivals and major cities benefited the football team’s image. Even in the years before Sandusky’s alleged misdeeds, a raft of Nittany Lions players were being charged with crimes ranging from public urination to murder—but the stellar reputation of Penn State remained untouched. Karen G. Muir, a State College attorney who represented several Penn State football players in legal trouble, says she has seen firsthand how the team will sacrifice an individual for the sake of the program. She says: “My experience is that Penn State football closes ranks and their focus is on the program as opposed to the individual. The program didn’t care as much what was best for my kid.”
To read the full online version of Wertheim’s and Epstein’s story, click here.
On the Tablets: Wertheim discusses his and Epstein’s story in a podcast interview. Plus, video of the on-campus vigil for the alleged victims and “Penn State: A Campus Divided.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: THE THRILL IS BACK – JIM TROTTER (@SI_JimTrotter)
The 49ers are 8–1 behind the efforts of a collection of misfits and NFL castoffs. Much of that success can be traced to their intense new coach; running back Frank Gore says that in sharp contrast to his predecessors, particularly Mike Nolan, Jim Harbaugh has imbued his team with confidence. Gore tells senior writer Jim Trotter (page 54): “[Nolan] just wanted us to stay in the game instead of saying, Let’s go attack them and see what we can do. It ain’t about them, it’s about us—that’s the attitude you have to have. Coach Harbaugh? That’s how he and his coaches are. Look at his swag. I love it.”
On the Tablets: Senior writer Peter King’s (@SI_PeterKing) “Last Word on the NFL” and his weekly podcast interview, this week’s edition of which features Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
J.J. BAREA: HOW I SPENT MY LOCKOUT – ALEXANDER WOLFF
J.J. Barea spent years trying to prove that his herky-jerky, change-of-direction style of play was more than enough to make up for his lack of size. It’s almost cruel that the league is locked out when he’s primed to capitalize on his breakout performance in the NBA Finals. For now Barea is more than satisfied to compete for the Puerto Rican national team and spend time with girlfriend—and former Miss Universe—Zuleyka Rivera. Says Barea’s cousin Pedro (page 68): “I tell José, ‘Man, what else can you do? You’ve won an NBA title. You’re having a kid. You’re dating Miss Universe. You should retire, man!’ ”
Barea plans to keep busy during the lockout lull. He tells senior writer Alexander Wolff: “I’ll definitely play somewhere this season. I’ve got to play. If not in the NBA, probably in Spain. If I get in one year there, I can get a passport and then I could play anywhere in Europe. You just have to be patient.”
On the Tablets: Barea’s Puerto Rico commercial for T-Mobile and video of his girlfriend being crowned Miss Universe in 2006.
GOODBYE TO THE SLAP SHOT – MICHAEL FARBER
The slap shot used to be the NHL’s signature play, thrilling for fans and menacing for goalies. But in today’s high-octane league, there’s rarely enough time or space to unleash one. Says Flames winger Jarome Iginla, owner of one of the more powerful slap shots in the NHL (page 60): “When I started in the league [in 1996], you could skate down the wing and sometimes see a hole. Now we go down the wing and don’t see anything. Even when we do slap it, it’s just hoping. If I’m skating over the blue line, I’d rather carry it into the corner and try to work something out of there. Or maybe try a wrister.”
The lack of consistent slappers in today’s game doesn’t stop people from rhapsodizing about them. Predators left winger Blake Geoffrion’s grandfather, Canadiens legend Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, is widely believed to be the “inventor” of the slap shot. Blake recalls: “When I was five or six, I was shooting pucks in the backyard. Pappy comes out, takes my lefthanded stick, flips it [Boom Boom was a righthanded shot] and starts firing away. One misses the net, and it actually tears a hole in the fence. He gives me my stick back, says, ‘That’s how you shoot a slapper,’ and goes back into the house.”
On the Tablets: Video footage of Guy LaFleur of the Canadiens beating Bruins goalie Gilles Gilber with a 40-foot slap shot in the 1979 semifinals. Plus, a gallery of the best slap shots in hockey history.
LEXI THOMPSON: SPORTY AND COOL – ALAN SHIPNUCK (@AlanShipnuck)
The youngest winner in LPGA tour history after her victory in September’s Navistar LPGA Classic, 16-year-old Lexi Thompson has the game, the drive and the charisma to be the next megastar in women’s golf. For now Thompson and her family are intent on her leading a somewhat normal teenage life. Says Thompson’s mother, Judy (page 76): “We want people to know she’s a nice, normal girl. Hopefully, this story will help her get a date to the prom.”
Other anecdotes from senior writer Alan Shipnuck’s story include:
- Judy, on the drive Lexi displayed early age: “The kids would go play every afternoon, and at some point the boys [brothers Nicholas and Curtis] would come home and relax, but Lexi would always stay on the range. I’d tell her, ‘Dinner is at seven, and that’s not negotiable.’ But after dinner she’d often want to hit more balls. She’d say, ‘Mom, I won’t be able to sleep tonight if I don’t fix my swing.’ So when people say Lexi was pushed into this, we can only laugh.”
- Tiffany Joh, the runner-up at the Navistar: “It’s a testament to what a good head she has on her shoulders that she’s friends with so many of the other players. She has brought the same excitement to our tour that Tiger Woods brought to his. Lexi has that kind of charisma. It would be easy to be jealous, but she’s such a sweet person you have no choice but to like her and hope she succeeds. Golf may be a selfish sport, but I think all the players understand how great Lexi is for the LPGA.”
NFL PLAYERS POLL
Who would you want on the receiving end of a Hail Mary pass? (page 19)
1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR….29%
2. Andre Johnson, Texans WR….19%
3. Calvin Johnson, Lions WR….16%
4. DeSean Jackson, Eagles WR….6%
5. Randy Moss, free-agent WR….4%
[Based on 324 NFL players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: Jackson, the only player in the top nine under six feet tall, likely earned his spot on speed: He was voted the second-fastest NFL player in a previous SI poll…. Defensive backs, whose opinion should count for something here, overwhelmingly favored Fitzgerald, giving him 40% of their vote…. Jags WR Jarett Dillard, the active WR with the highest draft combine vertical jump (42 1/2″) since the NFL started keeping records in 2006, did not receive any votes…. Calvin Johnson dominated a similar poll of SI readers on Facebook, taking 66% of the vote—six times the haul of any other player.
POINT AFTER: HE CAN STILL BE LIKE MIKE – PHIL TAYLOR
Many players who grew up worshipping Michael Jordan are now speaking out against his resolve to shrink the players’ share of NBA revenue—a sharp contrast to Jordan’s playing days, when anyone who spoke ill of him invited on-court humiliation. Senior writer Phil Taylor says it’s unreasonable to expect sympathy in the labor battle from Jordan just because he is a former player. These days his goal is to be a moneymaking, championship-winning owner, and his best route to that goal is siding with David Stern. It’s the same ruthless Jordan fans have always seen in competition. The only difference now is that he’s playing for a new team (page 84).
SCORECARD: JUST DON’T CALL HIM COACH – AUSTIN MURPHY (@si_austinmurphy)
Until Nov. 9 there were two active, bespectacled, octogenarian Italian-American football coaches with 400-plus wins. One was Penn State’s Joe Paterno; the other is John Gagliardi, who might be in his final season leading Division III powerhouse St. John’s of Minnesota. Using a strategy called Winning with No’s—no whistles, no blocking sleds, no calling him coach (“Call me John”), no profane language, no tackling or cut-blocking in practice—Gagliardi has won an NCAA-record 484 games while displaying impressive zip for an 85-year-old. Says Johnnies running back Harry Awe (page 15): “He’s still out there yelling at the refs. He doesn’t want to be up in the press box. Unless, you know, it’s minus-30.”
THIS WEEK ON THE TABLETS
- SI Digital Bonus: “Lawdy, Lawdy, He’s Great” – The late Joe Frazier said that of Muhammad Ali. As Mark Kram points out in his story from Oct. 13, 1975, their Thrilla in Manila was so fierce and unsparing that the phrase could have applied to both fighters.
- Leading Off: John W. McDonough’s photo from the Carrier Classic is supplemented with a time lapse video of the court being assembled on the USS Carl Vinson.
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- College Football (page 28): Pushing Luck – The Stanford quarterback’s subpar game against Oregon opened the Heisman door, but should it have? (George Dohrmann, @georgedohrmann)
- Boxing (page 32): Third Time’s the Harm – Manny Pacquiao got another close win over Juan Manuel Marquez—but the loser exposed some flaws in the Filipino superstar’s game. (Chris Mannix, @ChrisMannixSI)
- NFL (page 34): How ‘Bout Them Bengals? – With a franchise QB surrounded by young playmakers and high draft picks waiting, the Bengals are reminiscent of Troy Aikman’s Cowboys. (Damon Hack, @si_damonhack)
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 22)
- Maddy Crawford (Minneapolis/The Blake School) – Soccer
- Kyle McGivney (Apple River, Ill./Luther College) – Football
- Catherina Li (Kent, Wash./Kentwood High) – Golf
- Nick Estevez (La Puente, Calif./Nogales High) – Water Polo
- Ali Crocker (Amherst, Mass./Cambridge Sports Union) – Orienteering
- Alex Manwaring (East Lyme, Conn./Ledyard High) – Football
That’s going to do it.