The Jerry Sandusky scandal has continued to permeate the Penn State campus and football program, and on Tuesday the story took a dramatic turn. Joe Paterno’s regularly scheduled press conference was cancelled just 40 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Assistant Athletic Director Jeff Nelson exited Beaver Stadium and informed the hundreds of media personnel on the scene that the press conference would not be held today and would not be rescheduled. At this point Nelson fought through 40+ photographers to walk from Beaver Stadium to the Bryce Jordan Center across the street. Paterno was never seen around Beaver Stadium, and it is uncertain whether he ever made it to the stadium.
This decision to cancel the mid-week press conference is a prime example of the program withering away from the scandalous situation. The Penn State football program had the opportunity to get in front of this issue and produce a live public statement from the legendary coach himself. However, because the press conference was cancelled, and especially because it was cancelled just 40 minutes before it was scheduled to start, this was the event that truly turned Tuesday into the crazy day that is has been.
Scott Paterno, Joe’s son, has been the most vocal member of the Paterno family through social media and to reporters. Scott said that Joe actually wanted to hold the press conference at 12:30, and it was later found that the decision to cancel was made from university executives and President Spanier. The fact that there was no press conference increased the media frenzy tenfold. National media has descended on Penn State from all over the country, and these relentless media sources will not allow their reporters to come back empty handed. Therefore, these reporters resorted to interviewing students, waiting outside Joe Paterno’s house (before and after practice), and drawing their own conclusions about the Penn State situation without proper evidence. With a press conference by Paterno, some of the sensationalist media coverage would have subsided.
Instead, the New York Times published an article that claimed Penn State is now producing an exit plan for Joe Paterno. This theory, while it is believable, is unsubstantiated by any other major news source. Paterno needed to get in front of this issue by making a statement about it, and the university didn’t allow him to do so.
At 2:30PM EST, Paterno left his house to go to football practice at the Lasch Family Football Facility on campus. Paterno was greeted by over 50 reporters on his lawn that were looking for a statement from Paterno. Joe said that, while he wants to make a statement, today would not be the day that it would come. After practice, around 6:00, with media waiting outside the football facility, Paterno was able to sneak out the back and return to his home. Once home, Paterno spoke from his window to many students waiting outside and offered his prayers for the victims. It was a very short statement, under 2 minutes, but the news of Paterno’s speech drew hundreds of students to his home. After about 30 minutes of students chanting on the street in front of Joe’s home, the front door opened and Joe offered to speak once again. Paterno thanked the students for their support, and stressed that everyone should stay unified. He even started a “We Are…” chant, to which the crowd responded “…Penn State!”
That interaction with Joe Paterno ended what was a trying day for Paterno and the rest of the coaching staff. The next focus for the students and media is the emergency Board of Trustees meeting, which is to be held Tuesday evening at 8PM at Old Main. The results of this emergency meeting will tell a lot about the future of the leadership at Penn State. Jobs that are potentially on the line include: President Graham Spanier, Coach Joe Paterno, Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, and more. Bob Long Sports will continue to cover this story in the utmost depth, keep checking Bob Long Sports periodically for updates, and follow @boblongsports on Twitter for Breaking News updates.