NBC’s exec producer defends tape-delay strategy; surprised by strong ratings for Olympics

Jim Bell, NBC’s executive producer for the Olympics, appeared on Chris Russo’s afternoon show on Mad Dog Radio Tuesday.

Here are the highlights.

On the strong ratings:

Bell: They are well above what we had expected. Those expectations were largely based on the Athens Olympics, which were the last European-based Olympics, which is a situation where you know you’re going to be taping things to air them in primetime because it’s obviously in the middle of the night [in Europe] during primetime in the United States. And in Beijing, as you know, we had just the incredible advantage of showing all those great swimming races and some of the gymnastics live because the time difference was so extreme. And so we thought if we can kind of keep it where we did in Athens that’s going to be a big win. Well, we’ve gone well beyond that and we’ve still got a long way to go here but the early results have just been hugely, hugely satisfying.

On tape delay in primetime:

Bell: When a company invests the kind of money that we have in the Olympics we have absolutely every right to protect that investment. It’s the video, it’s the sports, it’s those kinds of things. We’ve tried to utilize new technology to stream everything live, all the events live for the hard core sports fan. But the fact is, and the numbers would seem to bear this out, there’s still a huge audience out there of people who want to watch this stuff at a time when it is convenient for them, when there are mass audiences, when people can gather around and watch TV, and one of the last great family viewing events out there.

You’ve got a family, Chris, you know what it’s like. I’ve got young kids. One’s on the Xbox, the other’s on the iPad, the other’s on Facebook, you’re watching the Giants game. This is one thing you watch together. And if you kind of end up giving it away, some of the stuff, on TV you’re not protecting your investment and you’re not serving the audience and you’re not serving the affiliates and you’re not serving the advertisers.


Russo asked Bell about the report in today’s New York Daily News that NBC flew Hoda Kotb to London to take part in the Today show’s Olympic coverage because the network felt the show needed a ratings boost.

Bell: “Absolute nonsense. That’s a garbage story. Anybody who watches the show knows that we’ve been running a thing with Kathie Lee and Hoda for weeks talking about why Hoda should go to the Olympics. So I have no idea. It was pathetic reporting.”

Bell responded specifically to a source quoted in the Daily News who said, “they’re just shoehorning her into the show to help bring it alive. They called Hoda on Thursday begging her to go to London because they said it wasn’t working like they thought.”

Bell: “That’s a lie. That’s a flat-out, made-up lie. It’s a lie. Again, you look back, you go to Kathie Lee and Hod

Twitter apologizes; reactivates NBC critic’s account

The Olympics causes you to do strange things. I never thought I’d write this much about Guy Adams (or Guy Lewis as I originally called him before making a quick correction; remember the old Houston hoops coach?)

Anyway, we all can breath a sigh of relief because Lewis, er Adams, is back on Twitter. His account has been reinstated. It had been taken down after he posted the email address of an NBC executive. Adams has been critical of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

I felt Adams stepped over the line by posting the email address. However, Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray did a post explaining it was wrong to suspend Adams’ account. It seems Twitter personnel encouraged NBC to file a report, a no-no.

He writes:

We’ve seen a lot of commentary about whether we should have considered a corporate email address to be private information. There are many individuals who may use their work email address for a variety of personal reasons — and they may not. Our Trust and Safety team does not have insight into the use of every user’s email address, and we need a policy that we can implement across all of our users in every instance.

That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other.

As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are.  This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is — whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.

Twitter actually did Adams a huge favor. By suspending his account, he received more attention than he ever could have imagined. He just did a tweet about going on CNN soon. Oh joy.

As for Guy Lewis, the former coach is 90 and still lives in Houston.




Doug Gottlieb jumps to CBS; Will anchor afternoon show for new radio network

Doug Gottlieb now will be one of the key players for the new CBS Radio Network.

CBS has lured Gottlieb away from ESPN with a package that includes his own 3-6 p.m. (ET) radio show. The network debuts on Jan. 2.

From Gottlieb’s perspective, he got other terrific goodies, such as working college basketball and the NCAA tournament as a game and studio analyst for CBS. He’s also going to be a show on the CBS Sports Network.

However, the radio component is the big one for CBS. A statement from Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio, was listed first in the release. He said:

“This is the first of many prominent personalities we will be adding to the CBS Sports Radio lineup,” said Mason.  “Doug is well-versed in today’s sports landscape and for years has entertained audiences with his unique blend of wit, honesty and outspokenness – traits essential for creating great radio programming.  We are thrilled to provide this exciting show to our new and soon-to-be announced affiliates across the country.”

Indeed, CBS wanted a recognizable name and someone who knows how to play the radio game. Gottlieb is hosting an afternoon show for ESPN Radio.

Gottlieb obviously had a good deal at ESPN, but I’m sure the chance to work the NCAA tournament pushed him over the top in making this move.

Here’s the release:

Among the platforms that Gottlieb will be featured on are:

  • CBS SPORTS RADIO – Gottlieb will host afternoons (3:00-6:00 PM, ET) on CBS Sports Radio, the newly created 24-hour, seven-day-a-week network featuring national programming from premier entities CBS RADIO and CBS Sports.  He will debut onJan. 2, 2013, the same day CBS Sports Radio launches.
  • CBS SPORTS –Gottlieb will serve as studio and game analyst for CBS Sports’ coverage of regular-season college basketball and the Network’s joint coverage with Turner Sports of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
  • CBS SPORTS NETWORK –Gottlieb will host a new show airing weekdays on CBS Sports Network beginning this fall and will be an analyst for regular-season college basketball.
  • CBSSPORTS.COM –Gottlieb will be an exclusive contributor to CBSSports.com, including columns, podcasts and College Basketball 360.

“With his ability to host both radio and television shows plus his studio and courtside analysis on college basketball, Doug is a triple threat, and the perfect fit across CBS Sports’ many platforms,” said McManus.  “Doug brings a wide fan base and a fresh take on sports, and we are excited to develop a unique show with him on CBS Sports Network.”

“CBS has among its portfolio the most powerful assets in all of sports and is home to arguably the greatest championship event – the NCAA Tournament,” said Gottlieb.  “Thinking about the reach of CBS Sports Radio and the continued growth of CBS Sports Network, coupled with quality online reporting and the overall distinguished reputation of CBS Sports, this was an easy choice to make, and an opportunity I couldn’t resist.”

“Listeners of my radio show will enjoy a fast, highly opinionated program that will challenge and engage sports fans nationwide.  And I’m looking forward to developing a new television program, following in the steps of my former colleague and friend Jim Rome,” added Gottlieb.

Olympics-sized goofs: Today promo spoils Franklin race; NBC right to file Twitter complaint

What happened prior to the Missy Franklin race during primetime was a goof of Olympic sized proportions.

From Richard Sandomir of the New York Times:

As viewers waited to see her in the 100-meter backstroke final, NBC carried a promo for the “Today” show that said: “When you’re 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with. We’re there when Missy Franklin and her parents reunite. A`Today’ exclusive.” The promo showed her holding her gold medal in the backstroke and embracing her parents. The result known—again, this was on tape so news of her victory was available for hours to whoever wanted to check—NBC returned from a commercial break and Dan Hicks said: “Missy Franklin just moments away from her first Olympic final.”

Really, how does this happen at a major network during a major telecast?

NBC said, sorry:

“Clearly that promo should not have aired at that time. We have a process in place and this will not happen again. We apologize to viewers who were watching and didn’t know the result of the race.”


There has been much written about Guy Adams, a British journalist who had been ripping NBC for its coverage of the Olympics. However, NBC believed Lewis crossed the line when he printed the email address for NBC executive Gary Zenkel, telling disgruntled viewers to send complaints to him.

NBC responded by filing a complaint to Twitter, which reacted by suspending Lewis’ account.

Adams responded via email to a British paper:

But I don’t see how I broke them in this case: I didn’t publish a private email address. Just a corporate one, which is widely available to anyone with access to Google, and is identical [in form] to one that all of the tens of thousands of NBC Universal employees share. It’s no more “private” than the address I’m emailing you from right now. Either way, [it’s] quite worrying that NBC, whose parent company are an Olympic sponsor, are apparently trying (and, in this case, succeeding) in shutting down the Twitter accounts of journalists who are critical of their Olympic coverage.

Totally disagree. I don’t think it is that easy to find the address of a top NBC executive. Most people aren’t reporters, and even they have trouble finding email addresses.

I’m a right to privacy person. Zenkel conducts important business with that account. How is he supposed to find essential emails among the potentially thousands of emails he will receive from viewers?

Also, plenty of people are ripping NBC and still have their Twitter accounts. Adams shouldn’t believe he is that important.

Adams would have his account if he didn’t step over the line.



Stop complaining: NBC tape-delay strategy delivers huge ratings

Here are a couple things you need to know: NBC does not operate as a not-for-profit. And a large portion of the massive Olympics audience is made up of non-traditional sports viewers who could care less about watching tape delay in prime time.

So go ahead and complain all you want about NBC saving the best stuff for primetime during the Olympics. While you whine, NBC is laughing all the way to the ratings bank.

Nothing validates NBC’s tape-delay strategy more than the huge ratings for its primetime coverage. The network is breaking all sorts of records.

From NBC:

Through the first three nights of the London Olympics, NBC is averaging 35.8 million viewers, the best through the first weekend for any Summer Olympics in history (since the 1960 Rome Olympics, the first televised Olympics), 1.4 million more than the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (34.4 million), and five million more viewers than 2008 Beijing Olympics (30.6 million).

Keep in mind, NBC expected ratings to be off from Beijing, which did have live coverage of events in primetime. With such a strong start, this could be a highly successful Olympics for the network

NBC received a valuable endorsement for its primetime approach from CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves. From Broadcasting & Cable:

“They had no alternative to do that. What are they going to do in primetime? They would have had to show events at 5 o’clock in the morning,” Moonves told B&C. “They don’t happen that way. If you don’t want to know the result, don’t go online. If you want to know the result, go online. But I don’t know what people expected of them and I think they’re doing a very good job of balancing it. I really do.”
Moonves also said that if the Olympics aired on CBS, he would most likely employ the same tape-delay strategy to preserve the primetime viewership.
“I’m sure it took a lot of thought went into it, but I think almost definitely we would have done the same thing,” he said. “I think they’re handling it very well, I really do, I think they’re doing a good job.”

As I wrote last week, according to NBC’s statistics, nearly half of the overall viewership of the Olympics is made up of people who never watch one minute of ESPN during the year. These aren’t typical sports fans who are scanning the various sites looking for the latest news and results in baseball, football, etc.

They are mostly women who tune in to watch the stories and drama of this once-every-four-years phenomenon. They couldn’t tell you Derek Jeter from Russell Westbrook, but they were heartbroken for Jordyn Wieber Sunday.

As long as the ratings keep coming in, NBC has no reason to shift from its strategy. And if you want to complain. Go ahead. It’s an Olympic tradition.




Technical glitches from NBCOlympics.com shouldn’t be unexpected

My friend, Ira, who has way too much time on his hands, was watching Michael Phelps compete in a heat Monday afternoon on his cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S2. As the race was about 10 yards from the finish, the screen went blank. A message then appeared: “Exit app. Start over.”

Ira was ticked off. “It could have at least let me watch the end of the race,” he said.

Ira, though, has a computer background. He’s not surprised.

Clearly, the technology isn’t there yet to support such a massive on-line extravaganza at NBCOlympics.com. Unlike television, there still are too many variables when it comes to Internet providers, mobile devices, individual computers, etc. It all adds up to plenty of room for error.

My computer seized up on me Sunday morning. I never got to watch the end of that badminton match. By the way, I’m not kidding: Check out the badminton. Some amazing points. Not like you played in your backyard.

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir did a piece on the streaming problems. He writes:

(People) want what they want when they want it — and they don’t want the video to freeze, skip, pixelate or buffer excessively. Some who wanted to watch Phelps race Ryan Lochte live (many hours before they raced, on delay, on NBC) were disappointed when the live streams seized up as if hexed by an NBC rival.

Twitter has lit up with similar complaints — some satisfied customers have tweeted, too — from fans who don’t want to hear that the trouble might be on their end: their broadband service’s bandwidth; the age of their computers and mobile devices; thunderstorms; the number of people in an apartment building also streaming; or interference in the ionosphere from Ryan Seacrest’s Freedom Tower-size pompadour.

And he has this quote from NBC’s Greg Hughes:

We’re enjoying tremendous success with our digital offerings. And yes, there have been some difficulties. Some on our end; some on the users’ end. And we’re working around the clock to give everyone a good digital experience. A small number of complaints, relative to the huge number of users, is a very positive early sign.

Memo to Greg: It’s is 4:29 Central Monday, and NBCOlympic.com is freezing up on me for beach volleyball. By the way, my Internet provider is Comcast, which just happens to own NBC.

As I said, it’s not perfect.



Illinois fans might boycott; ESPN adds Pearl to GameDay

I know some of my fellow Illinois fans likely will tune out ESPN’s College GameDay show for basketball this year. The network just hired Bruce Pearl to be one of its analysts.

Even though it’s been more than 20 years, the folks in Champaign haven’t forgotten how Pearl got the Illini in major hot water with the NCAA. Then an assistant coach at Iowa, he accused Illinois of offering $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer to sign Chicago high school star Deon Thomas. The NCAA never found Illinois guilty of the charge, but it still slammed the program with penalties.

I covered the messy story for the Chicago Tribune, and it was one of the more interesting years of my career.

Much has happened since then. Pearl went on to have considerable success before he ran into his own NCAA problems at Tennessee. Now he has found refuge at ESPN.

All I can say is the bitterness over Pearl still runs deep at my former school. If I’m ESPN, probably not a good idea to do a College GameDay live from Champaign if Pearl is on the panel.

From the release:

Former college basketball coaches Bruce Pearl and Seth Greenberg have joined ESPN as men’s college basketball analysts and ESPN’s Jalen Rose will be added to the college basketball commentator team, it was announced today by Mark Gross, ESPN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, Production. Pearl and Greenberg will each serve as studio analysts throughout the season and will call select games from various conferences. Rose will be a featured analyst on the weekly College GameDay as well as other college basketball studio programming, and will work as a game analyst for a series of matchups. Additionally, all three will contribute college basketball commentary to ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and other ESPN outlets.

“Both Seth and Bruce bring a contemporary coaching perspective and a great ability to break down the action in an entertaining style,” Gross said. “Jalen’s NBA analysis has been insightful and engaging and that style will translate to the college game where he’s remained closely connected since the ‘Fab Five’ days.”

Greenberg, who served as a guest ESPN studio analyst during the 2012 NCAA Tournament, most recently coached Virginia Tech for nine seasons (2003-2012). While there, he compiled a 170-123 record. Prior to that, Greenberg had head coaching stints at South Florida (1996-2003) and Long Beach (1990-1996). He was previously an assistant coach at Long Beach, Miami, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Columbia. He is a 1978 graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson with a Broadcast Journalism degree.

Greenberg said, “I am excited and honored to be joining ESPN. I look forward to using the relationships I have developed over 35 years of coaching college basketball to bring unique insights to the ESPN viewing audience.”

Pearl has worked as a college basketball commentator for Sirius XM Radio this past season after coaching the University of Tennessee from 2005-2011. While at Tennessee, Pearl led the team to 145-61 record and NCAA Tournament berths each of his six seasons there. Prior to that, Pearl coached at UW-Milwaukee (2001-2005) and Southern Indiana (1992-2001) after working as an assistant at Iowa and Stanford. Pearl is a 1982 Boston College graduate where he served as a student assistant coach and earned a degree in Business.

Pearl said, “I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to bring ESPN the same sort of knowledge, passion and intensity that I tried to have as a basketball coach. I’m anxious to get started and contribute to ESPN’s great college basketball coverage.”

Rose has been an ESPN NBA analyst, primarily for studio coverage since 2007. He will continue to provide NBA studio analysis during the Playoffs. Rose had a successful 13-year NBA career which included playing with the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 Finals. He was a consensus high school All American and team captain of the University of Michigan’s famed “Fab Five” that played for the National Championship in 1992 and 1993. Rose and his production company Three Tier Entertainment served as executive producer of ESPN’s critically acclaimed documentary about that team.

Rose said, “I’m eager to join College GameDay with Rece, Digger, Jay, and the amazing fans across the country! Calling games courtside feeling the spirit and electricity of the crowd plus hearing the gym squeak will be a treat.”


Going into a media bubble to watch NBC tape-delay; can’t do it for remainder of Olympics

I made the decision Sunday afternoon. I wanted to watch the Olympics in primetime without knowing the results of the big swimming races.

So I literally went into a media-proof bubble. Twitter definitely was out. I sent out a tweet apologizing to my thousands (tens?) of followers, who hang on my every word. No classic 140-character gems from me for the remainder of the day.

ESPN? Nope. I definitely would find out the results via the ever-present crawl. Obviously, I stayed away from the Internet.

I even carefully avoided the television at the bar when I picked up carryout at P.F. Chang’s.

Ultimately, I watched the men’s relay and other swimming races as if they were airing live. And I enjoyed NBC’s tape-delay telecast.

But I can’t do this every night. That’s the difference with the concept of tape-delay now compared to 1996 or even 2000. Back then, you didn’t have to work as hard to avoid hearing the results.

However, in the new media age, there are too many places where you can find out what happened, even by accident. And we’ve become creatures of habit. We need our Twitter, Facebook, sports sites, and all the other wonders of the Internet.

I can’t silence my computer and iPhone every afternoon just so I can experience the drama of the vault in women’s gymnastics in the evening. Not going to happen. The addiction is too strong.

I’ll watch primetime, because that’s what I do. But I won’t enjoy it as much if I know who won and lost.

Here’s a thought: Perhaps somebody can develop an app that blocks your brain from hearing Olympics results. I’m sure work already is taking place on that concept.







Newspaper Olympics coverage varies: Philly papers cut back; LA Times, USA Today all-in

Special Report:

Staffing the Olympics used to be a no-brainer for major newspapers. The Games are a major worldwide event and you air-mail as many reporters as possible.

I was among 15 staffers for the Chicago Tribune during the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Obviously, times, priorities, and most importantly, economics have changed. It’s no longer automatic to send an army of staffers to cover an Olympics.

In fact, the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer initially decided skip the trip to London. They returned the five credentials issued to the papers. However, at the last minute, the editors decided to send Phil Sheridan.

Said Josh Barnett, executive sports editor for the Philadelphia Daily News on the overall decision: “It’s exclusively a financial decision. It’s a significant commitment (to staff an Olympics). With dwindling resources, you have to make decision of how and where to best use your people. It was a choice we didn’t want to make, but it was something we had to do.”

Barnett added, “I hope this is an anomaly for us as opposed to the norm.”

The St. Paul Pioneer-Press also made the same decision, electing not to send a staffer to London. Meanwhile, the Pioneer-Press’ main competitor, Glen Crevier of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, has two writers and a photographer in London.

Mike Bass, senior editor/sports for the Pioneer-Press, explained:

“There’s the realization that our reporter/columnist would likely make a greater impact covering local teams and issues than at the Olympics. There is a risk in all this, of course. If a major story breaks that involves an athlete from our market, we wouldn’t be there to cover it. Then again, if the story is big enough, the wires would certainly cover it in some way and we could try to supplement it. With the size of staff we have, these are the decisions we have to make all the time.”


On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. The Times isn’t cutting back. It has 13 staffers in London.

Sports editor Mike James said the Olympics have been a staple of the Times’ sports coverage through the years.

“We think of the Olympics as one of our franchise opportunities,” James said. “It’s a chance for us to broaden our readership. You get a lot of interest from people who don’t normally read our section during the Olympics.”

James added, “I didn’t have to do a sales job (to upper management). They recognize the Olympics are an important thing we do during two-plus weeks.”

USA Today also is applying full-court treatment. Dave Morgan, senior VP for content and editor in chief for the USA Today sports media group, noted the staffing breakdown:

“We have about 48 reporters/editors, about 20 photographers, 11 attached to video and 5 for office administration and support (which includes circulation of our International edition). So 84 in all.”

That’s up from 60 in Beijing, he said:  “With the growth of the USAT Sports Media Group, we now include US Presswire (all-sports photo agency that we bought last year) and are fully coordinated with our Broadcast team on the video side so that’s where the growth is.”

However, even though it is increasing its digital presence, Morgan said the newspaper remains the prime focus.

“We see the newspaper as the sizzle reel for all the work appearing across our digital platforms,” Morgan said. “We will be creating much more content on a daily basis than we can hope to publish in print, and of course we don’t print every day, so the newspaper can’t be our only focus. But it is still our flagship product that best differentiates our content for the audience.”


Those appear to be the extreme cases of high and low. Most papers are somewhere in between, probably more on the low side.

For example, the Chicago Tribune has dropped from 15 staffers in 2000 to 9 in Beijing to 5 (all writers) in London this year.

The reason? “Economics. Like so many,” said Mike Kellams, the Tribune’s associate managing editor for sports.

However, Kellams stressed the Olympics remains a priority to the Tribune.

“I’m also trying to strike the balance between news (not just events) and analysis,” Kellams said. “For the first time, we’ll better exploit Phil Hersh’s Olympic expertise (covering his 16th Olympics) by allowing him to write columns each day from the Games. I expect those to be smart and insightful as we know Phil’s work to be. I also expect it will be the kind of Olympic stories that only someone with his vast experience can first recognize and then tell to our readers.”

Minneapolis’ Crevier said the modern newspaper has to play the role of looking ahead in its Olympic coverage.

“I think it is important for print publications to look ahead to what is happening today,” Crevier said. “With a five-hour time difference, results and game coverage will seem stale in the daily paper the next day.”


When asked about staffing for the games, Mark Jones, director of communications for the USOC, said interest remains strong in coverage for the Olympics.

“No one is immune to the changes that have occurred in the media landscape, but interest and coverage of the Games seems to continue to be a priority,” Jones said.

The difference, he said, is that more sports web sites are staffing the Games than ever before. FoxSports.com has a made a big commitment for the first time.

“We continue to see changes in the media landscape and certainly have more and more Internet-only news organizations accredited for the Olympic Games and covering the Games,” Jones said.






Schieffer can’t believe Ganim is 24; Face the Nation tackles Penn State

Interesting discussion regarding Penn State today on Face the Nation. Here’s the transcript:

Bob Schieffer:  And joining me now to talk about this situation and the impact it’s had on football in general and, kind of, the state of sports in America, Sara Ganim, who is a CNN contributor. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her work for the Harrisburg Patriot-News” on the Sandusky scandal. Sara, you are how old?

Sara Ganim: Twenty-four..


Bob Schieffer: And you’ve already got a Pulitzer. All right. Bill Rhoden is a sports columnist for the New York Times. Buzz Bissinger is a contributor for Newsweek and “The Daily Beast.” He wrote “Friday Night Lights,” one of the best books about football ever written. And our own James Brown, who’s here at the table with me; and out in Los Angeles, Jim Rome, both, of course, of CBS Sports. Sara, I’ve got to talk to you. You have heard the president. What — what struck you here? What are the questions we need to be asking now?

Sara Ganim: Well, I think the — the situation about the money and how they’re going to pay, not just for the fine that the NCAA imposed but the lawsuits that are inevitably going to come, the millions that they’re already spending and will continue to spend on crisis management. How will they ensure that this doesn’t come from the three key areas, from tuition money, from taxpayer money, and from donations from people who give to Penn State because they went to school there or enjoy the program? And the interesting thing about Penn State is that, unlike many state schools, it’s what we call in Pennsylvania “state-related,” so it gets state money, but it doesn’t have to open up its records. So we cannot — no one, no members of the public, no journalists, — can look and see the money trail. And while President Erickson is telling us what pot of money they want to take the $60 million from, we don’t know where that money was going before. So how do we know that — where that $60 million might have gone to, you know, build the new academic building or a laboratory? How are they paying for it now? How are they paying for the — the other sports programs? All of them, except basketball, are dependent on Penn State football. So where is that money coming from? And how do I know that my tax money isn’t going to that?

Bob Schieffer: Bill, let me just start with you, and just go around the table. A short question: Did the NCAA impose the right penalty here? Should it have been harsher or was it not harsh enough?

Bill Rhoden: Bob, absolutely not. They should not be playing football. The fact that — the fact that they are playing football is one of the greatest abdications, moral abdications, maybe, in the history of the NCAA. There’s no way that they should be playing football.

Bob Schieffer: All right. Jim Rome out there in L.A., what’s your take?

Jim Rome: Bob, I think they got it right. I think the NCAA actually had to come down the way they did. We’re talking about the worst scandal ever. The NCAA couldn’t just sit that one out. We’re talking about a head coach who knew and an athletic director who knew, a vice president and a president knew that they had a pedophile within their buildings. They had to do something. So I think that they got it right. I think it certainly was punitive. I think that it was just. And I think that they had no — no other opportunity or no other choice but to do what they did. And I think they got it.

Bob Schieffer: Buzz Bissinger?

Buzz Bissinger: Yeah, I mean, given the past conduct of the NCAA in which they literally never do anything, I think the sanctions were appropriate and correct. I think it’s going to have a severe impact on the Penn State football program. When you lose scholarships like that, when you’re restricted and you’re not going to bowl games, kids — it’s a business, and kids and their parents are going to say, “Don’t go to Penn State.”

Bob Schieffer: You know, my daughter went to SMU the year that they got the death penalty, no football. They canceled all the games the first year, canceled the visiting games the second year. SMU went ahead and canceled the home games. I remember going to the homecoming soccer game…


…. and it just wasn’t quite the same. SMU didn’t do nearly what happened at Penn State. Do you think the penalty was right, James? BROWN: I think, on balance, it was fair. I thought it was punitive enough. There’s no such thing as a penalty that will be fair with all parties involved, Bob. The current athletes, they had nothing to do with it. I hate the fact that they’re going to be impacted, but there’s always collateral damage when there’s a punitive measure put in place. And I think the right thing was done. Because, for me, it begins and it ends with the young people who were raped and abused. That says it all to me.

Bob Schieffer: Obviously, something like this can’t happen without consequences, but what the people in Penn State argue, some of them, and in the community, as well as some members of the board, is that the wrong people are being punished. The guys that did this have been fired. They’ve been sent on their way. And it’s the football players, it’s the fans who are being punished here, Bill.

Bill Rhoden: Oh, God. You have got to stop — I mean, that’s the whole problem. The only innocent people in this whole drama are the kids who were raped. You know, I don’t know if anybody has been the victim of abuse. But that’s something that’s forever. They’re the only people — and the fact that — if you listen to this whole thing, the only thing that Penn State wanted, the only thing it would listen to is, let us play football. That’s the only thing they wanted to do, let us in the game. Let us in the game, as long as we’re in the game, we can make a little money here, make a little money — if you shut it down, you’re sending a message that resonates to California, down to Alabama, up to the Northeast. But by letting them play ball, that’s the only thing they want to do, just let us play ball, and they play ball.

James Brown: The competitiveness of the program is going to be impacted. The reduction in scholarships for sure. No bowl money revenue will be disseminated at all, $60 million is a pretty significant hit, especially to the second-biggest employer in the state there, being the Penn State University, period. So I think it was very punitive for sure. I do hate that the kids won’t be able to pursue. But you know what? That’s life. I mean, Sara said it back in the green room. There’s nothing fair about that, but when you’re talking about a situation that is as egregious as this, the right thing was done.

Bob Schieffer: Well, Sara, talk to us a little bit. As a reporter, I’m interested, this must have been a very tough story to get.

Sara Ganim: Well, you know, it’s funny you say that actually. Because when you talk about — a lot of people have been talking about the culture at Penn State. As reporters in State College, there was a joke, we used to call Penn State “the Kremlin.” And it really was impenetrable. I mean, the Penn State practices were closed, the football program was incredibly secret. And when you talk about what happened and looking back in hindsight, these were things that were not really — these were known things. It was very difficult to get information out of Penn State, out of the administration, out of the football program. It was just impossible. And so that — you know, that has definitely carried through. And I — in some ways, I think President Erickson recognizes that and is trying to make things more open, but I do think Penn State has a long way to go before we really know what’s going on.

Bob Schieffer: What did you do? Did you get a tip? How did you find out about this?

Sara Ganim: Yes, I got a tip. It was kind of dumb luck in a way. I asked a source, anything else going on? What else should I know? And the source said to me, hey, you know, Jerry Sandusky has been accused. And this is the point where it’s just one child, one boy, a teen boy who had accused him. And six weeks later that person called me back and said, hey, remember that thing I told you, never mind, it’s not true. And that was the beginning of three years before we really could get a solid story to print.

Buzz Bissinger: You know, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I have a lot of questions about the conduct of Governor Tom Corbett, why this investigation took so long. Why was a grand jury impaneled, as opposed to arresting Mr. Sandusky and then you could have continued the investigation? I mean, he put other children at risk. This investigation took three years. He had one investigator, he says two, on the case for the first two years. A narcotics officer — and by the way, he was an attorney general running for governor, and you have to ask the question, was he scared of offending the Penn State base, which is enormous in the state of Pennsylvania?

Bob Schieffer: Jim Rome, I asked President Erickson, what about Joe Paterno, did he stay too long? I found him fairly forthcoming considering the circumstances, but he clearly dodged that question. He said, well, people have to make up their own judgment about whether he stayed too long. Is that what happened here? Was this an icon who just should have retired or been retired some years ago?

Jim Rome: Yes, Bob, I don’t think it’s a matter of him staying too long. I think it’s a matter of a man who had an opportunity to do the right thing and did not do so. I mean, the one thing that we could always believe in, in college sports, was Joe Paterno, a man of integrity, a man of virtue, a man that would do the right thing given the opportunity at the right time. But that’s not what he did. And a lot of Penn State fans are really upset about this, but the fact of the matter is, this is now his legacy. This went on under his watch. He knew about it, the A.D. knew about it, the vice president knew about it, and the president knew about it. And he did not do the right thing. And unfortunately, this is now what he’s going to be remembered for more than anything else, not that he stayed too long but that he had a chance to do the right thing and didn’t do it.

James Brown: Hey, Bob, if I could coat-tail on what Jim Rome is saying, that to me galls me the most. You have got adults who are in position of responsibility, there to be carrying the banner for honesty and integrity and transparency, and they failed miserably in that. And this — while this is the most egregious situation that I’ve seen, the tail wagging the dog, the athletic department wagging the dog at a big-time athletic program is nothing novel. I’m just hopeful — I’m not very confident that it’s going to happen, that there will be a significant change because this isn’t the only place where the tail is wagging the dog. Big-time college athletics is viewed through the prism of money and it runs the show.

Bob Schieffer: All right. We’re going to keep talking about this, but we have to take a little break and make a little money for FACE THE NATION.


Bob Schieffer: I want to go back to Sara. Do you think — you just heard Jim Rome say, and we all seem pretty much in agreement that Coach Paterno had to know something about this. Do you think he was just out of it, though? Was this a fellow who had had a great career but probably didn’t really know what was going on? Because it seems to me like the self-perpetuation of the Joe Paterno legend became even larger than the football program at Penn State?

Sara Ganim: I would say it was larger than Penn State. Joe Paterno and Penn State were basically synonymous. And I think that — when I talk to students there, and I’ve been talking a lot to students, I was a student not that long ago at Penn State, one thing that I really hope that people learn from this is that this was almost idol worship at this point to Joe Paterno. And it’s just not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to the person, to Joe, that we hold people to such a high standard on such a pedestal. I mean, really, honestly, to erect a statue, a larger-than- life statue of someone who is still alive on campus in front of the place where they work, can you imagine going into work every day with a 10-foot statue of yourself?


Bill Rhoden: Nick Sabin does. Nick Sabin does. Nick Sabin goes down whatever it’s called, and there’s a big statue of Nick Sabin because he now won a national championship.

Buzz Bissinger: Look, you know, we can use Joe Paterno’s age as an excuse. Joe Paterno was a dictator. It took five years and an appeal to the state supreme court to get his salary, which was public. He knew something was going on in 1998. He definitely, according to the Freeh Report, had an impact on the decision that was made in 2001. At the end of the day, Jerry Sandusky was a member of the football mafia family, and as long as you don’t rat, you’re a member of the family. And what is the most troublesome in all those e-mails we’ve read, not one word about any of the victims. Not a single word.

James Brown: You know what, I don’t begrudge the success of any college coach who wins and wins consistently and does it right. I don’t know all the story there. Time and distance from it will tell the full story. There’s a truth that says that which was done in the dark will ultimately come to the light. So I don’t begrudge the success. It’s just the degree to which we deify them and then they’re insulated, there’s no firewall between — the university is supposed to be running the show and that doesn’t happen many places.

Bob Schieffer: Well, let me bring Jim Rome back in to this. So we know how it happened at Penn State. Do we have this same kind of situation at other big universities around the country because football has suddenly become very, very big business — not suddenly but is very big business?

Jim Rome: You know, Bob, I’ve got a couple of thoughts on that. Number one, it will never be like it was at Penn State because we’re talking about somebody that was there for 40-plus years and we’re talking about a very small community that really derives a lot of its identity, both from that university and the football program. So it could never be like it was at Penn State with Joe Paterno. That was an anomaly in and of itself. However, I would say, and Nick Sabin’s name came up, you can’t tell me Nick Sabin is any less powerful right now than he was before this whole thing went down. To me that is what is so troubling. This is not going to change anything at all. The only thing this is going to change is the way Joe Paterno was seen. It’s going to change the way that football team looks on the field there. But it’s not going to change anything nationally because the stakes are always going to be what they’re going to be and people are going to want to win and that’s not going to change. I don’t think it changes anything.

Bill Rhoden: Do you think Les Miles has less power than the president at LSU? Are you kidding me?

Jim Rome: None of them do.

Bill Rhoden: And so I just want to make this very clear about this whole thing. I think that what we talk about here — and you mentioned mafia — we’re talking about death penalties. The NCAA itself should get the death penalty. They is — I want to get back to it — they took care of the member of the club, OK, Penn State is a member. They slapped them around publicly, $60 million — USC we were slapping them around a couple of years ago, USC is the preseason number one. And guess what — and USC may get one of Penn State’s guys. I mean, this business, the deeper you get into it, is incestuous and it’s coming to the point it’s immoral. And look what we’re doing here, we’re punishing a moral trespass with money. We’re saying, “okay, you raise a moral — but give us some money”

Buzz Bissinger: You are punishing with sanctions, you are punishing with significant sanctions, more…

Bill Rhoden: But it’s still money.

Buzz Bissinger: More than USC — yes, it was a PR move for the NCAA. Is it going to change the culture of college football? No. Should players be paid? Of course. But we have this myth, this ridiculous myth was whole man that never existed, that was perpetuated by Walter Camp and Grantland Rice. It’s a disgrace, and the NCAA is a disgrace. And part of it was a PR move.

Bob Schieffer: Sarah, how many of the football players — they can can now transfer to other schools without losing any eligibility. What’s your take? What are you hearing? Do you think many of them will?

Sara Ganim: No, I think many of them are going to stay.

Bob Schieffer: Do you?

Sara Ganim: Out of loyalty. And, you know, I think there’s really only one — correct me if I’m wrong, guys — but there’s only one who has been talking — openly talking — Silas Reed, to USC. And most of the players at Big 10 media day said, “look, we’re sticking together. This is a decision we’re making as a team. We’re going to play this season.” And I think a lot of them are standing behind Bill O’Brien. It’s the same kind of reaction in the community. People are saying, “I don’t care how much a football ticket, is I’m going to go to the games, even if I wasn’t going to go to the games otherwise to show, hey, you can’t beat me down. I’m going..”

Bill Rhoden: They don’t lose.

Sara Ganim: I’m going to support Penn State

Bob Schieffer: We’re about to go out of time. I want to go back to what buzz said. should we be paying our college athletes?

Bill Rhoden: No, I don’t believe in that. I do believe…

Bob Schieffer: Because they’re the only ones not making a whole bunch of money out of this.

Bill Rhoden: Well, that’s the rule of the NCAA. The only people who make money are the adults. But I don’t believe — I do believe that there is something to be said for going to these great universities and getting an education.

Buzz Bissinger: They don’t go there for that. They don’t have the time. They don’t have the wherewithal.

Bill Rhoden: I think that a lot do.

Buzz Bissinger: I think very few do. I think very few do. And Cam Newton probably made tens of millions of dollars for Auburn, tens of millions of dollars and gets nothing. It isn’t fair. It is a form of indenturement.

Bob Schieffer: All right, well, I’m sorry, that is where — we’ll probably continue this conversation after we go off the air, but we have to end this part of it. We’ll be back in a moment. Thank you all so much