New IU National Sports Journalism director: young writers have advantage over veterans in market

Teaching sports journalism at the big U these days would seem to be as valuable as starting classes on how to make a typewriter.

Journalism is a dying industry, we’re told. Read about it in the papers. What’s left of them, that is.

Malcolm Moran is here to say don’t believe everything you read and hear. And listen to this: He contends in many respects the market never has been better for young journalists. So are the opportunities to make an immediate impact.

Moran has seen it up close as the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism since 2006. And it isn’t just about young equaling cheaper.

“For the first time in the history of the industry, a 20-something journalist could have an advantage over a 40-something candidate,” Moran said.

In January, Moran will be molding those young writers as the new director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana. He takes over a program launched in 2009 by my old Tribune boss Tim Franklin. Moran said there are 100 students affiliated with the NJSC. Those students recently participated in compiling the hiring report card for the Black Coaches and Administrators Association, yet another example of the opportunity to make an early impact.

Moran obviously has the credentials with distinguished stops at the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today. He has covered more college bowl games and Final Fours than he cares to count.

Now Moran is making his presence felt on the academic side during a time of great transition for the profession. Here’s my Q/A.

What makes you say 20-somethings have an advantage over 40-somethings?

For the first time in the history of the industry, a 20-something journalist could have an advantage over a 40-something candidate. Graduates as recent as the class of 2007 have told me they feel as though they missed out on having the new technology included in their course work. If a younger candidate can meet all the timeless expectations of the industry, and demonstrate that he or she can tell stories across platforms, the assumption is that the candidate will handle the technology more easily than the more experienced veteran. Media outlets are willing to sacrifice institutional memory – and the higher salaries that comes with that – for more cost-effective, techno-savvy candidates. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying it’s happening.

But what about the job cuts in the market. Aren’t there diminished opportunities?

Yes, there is a distribution problem on the print side, but think about how many outlets that didn’t exist 10 years ago. There are staffers from our program at Penn State who are working at the Big Ten Network. When I started, the Big Ten Network was on the drawing board. was a small core of writers and a lot of wire copy 10-15 years ago. Now look at it.

In the spring of 2009, it seemed like there was no movement. The students who were graduating had a hard time finding jobs. But now we’re seeing more opportunities.

At Penn State, we had a student, Mark Viera, who wound up covering a lot of the Sandusky story for the New York Times. If you opened up the paper, you would assume he was a staff writer. He and Pete Thamel won the APSE award for breaking news. Those kinds of places would rarely use a free lancer 10-15 years ago. Now they do. The opportunity to make a name for yourself now is much greater.

Why would somebody want a sports journalism program as opposed to a regular journalism program?

Part of it is the nature of the industry and the changes we’ve seen. It’s so much more fragmented. Can a journalism major succeed in sports? Of course. However, last year, the students at Penn State covered the men’s Final Four, the BCS game, and the Olympics. If you’re 22 and have that on your resume, you’re in good shape.

We had nine students at the Olympics in London. They produced the digital newsletter daily for the USOC. There were only 15 U.S. media outlets that had more people in London than we did.

You can’t replicate what we did in London in a classroom. When we first got there, they were, ‘OK, what do we do now?’ By the end, they were veterans. It was fun to watch them discover that they can do this.

How is teaching sports journalism different now than 10 years ago?

It’s different than even three or four years ago. I guarantee you the word ‘tweet’ was nowhere to be found in my syllabus. Now I do a class on tweeting and how to use it in an intelligent way. We stress the same standards apply to a 140-character tweet as they do to a 2,000 word story.

Tweeting wasn’t on our radar three years ago, but if you don’t do it now, you’re not doing yourself justice.

What is the key for a young writer to get a job today?

You have to be able to cross every platform. You have to be able to tell your story in more ways than you used to. You can’t show up with a notebook in your pocket and expect to be relevant. You have to market yourself by demonstrating you can work across all the platforms. If you can do that and retain your core values, then you’re marketable.

What are your hopes for NSJC?

I’d like to grow the program and identify people who can make a difference. I have relationships with people they have relationships with. They’ve done a lot in a short period of time. I hope to be able to build upon it.








Costas interview with Posnanski: Author believes Freeh report flawed; wasn’t going to write a takedown book

Perhaps this is why Joe Posnanski is not doing a big media tour to promote his book Paterno. It would take too much out of him to repeatedly defend a coach nobody wants to hear being defended.

Posnanski appears Wednesday on Costas Tonight (NBC Sports Network, 9 p.m. ET). The 90-Minute Show Includes Costas’ full November 2011 interview with Jerry Sandusky from Rock Center with Brian Williams with never-before-seen footage.

Posnanski has done limited interviews since release of the book last week. You can see why from the Costas interview. There are tough questions to be answered.

Here are some of the more interesting segments.

On the Freeh Report being flawed:

Costas: “Without getting bogged down in the particulars, this is the essence of Louis Freeh, former FBI director‘s report. The conclusion: In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, Paterno, among others, but again Paterno is the figure that the public gravitates toward here, repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from authorities, the university’s trustees, the Penn State community and the public. If that is true, as Freeh concluded, it is indefensible.”

Posnanski: “Absolutely”

Costas: “You don’t believe that though.”

Posnanski: “I don’t believe that, no. I honestly don’t. I honestly believe that what Louis Freeh did, and I have no qualms with the Louis Freeh report, he had his goals and his role in this thing.”

Costas: “Well if you don’t think that’s true, you must have qualms with his report.”

Posnanski: “He didn’t talk to Tim Curley; he didn’t talk to Gary Schultz; he didn’t talk to Joe Paterno; he didn’t talk to Jerry Sandusky; he didn’t talk to Tom Harmon; he didn’t talk to Mike McQueary. He didn’t talk to any of the major players in this and I think, I understand why he went to those conclusions, and he did, but I believe the report is very incomplete and I do believe that as things come out, it’s going to emerge that some of the people who wrote some of the emails and so on are going to say that everything has been misspoken.”

“My feeling again is, and I’m really not looking to dodge because there are so many things that we don’t understand and hard to know, but I have many of the same facts that I reported on my own that are in the Freeh report – he jumped to conclusions that I cannot jump to. I mean, I jump to definitely there was a sense that Joe Paterno knew more than he suggested; there’s definitely a sense that Joe Paterno should have done more. But the cover up, the idea that he was actively following it, these sorts of things, I think they’re still, to me, they’re still up in the air.”

On the tough reviews for the book:

Costas: “Obviously there has been mixed reaction to the book. Among the reviews we’ve seen so far, this is the most extreme, Paul Campos at, ‘Paterno is a disgraceful book and a minor literary crime. To say Posnanski botches his journalistic and literary opportunity is akin to saying that the Titanic’s maiden voyage might have gone more smoothly.’ Let’s concede that that’s at one end, what criticism somewhere towards the middle of that, do you concede correct or fair?”

Posnanski: “I kind of felt like those guys in Spinal Tap there when you were reading that review. I think this is a book that as people get away from this, and are less emotional about it; they’ll see what I was trying to do in this book. I think that some people see it now, fortunately. But I think as time goes on and as people get less emotional about it, a lot of people who have written reviews, frankly, came in with the same opinion that they went out with. I’ve been, as you know, taking a lot of hits long before the book came out.”

On his feelings about Paterno:

Costas: “(According to public opinion) the only acceptable take is that Paterno was fully culpable in the most extreme interpretation, and that he was, prior to that, a fraud and a hypocrite and this doesn’t just invalidate the good he may have done, it exposes that good as a fraud.”

Posnanski: “Exactly, and I think that’s what certain people wanted. That’s not the story, that’s not the book. I wasn’t going to write THAT book. Somebody else can if they want. I wrote the honest book, the book that I believe is true. I believe that I had better access than I’ll ever get again for a book and I believe that I used it as well as I could.”

Costas: “What did you come away thinking? What is your bottom line on Joe Paterno?”

Posnanski: “I think really what I come away with is what a complicated life it was and what a big life it was.”

Costas: “Do you view him as a good man who made a tragic mistake, be it of omission or commission? Or is he less of a good man because of that mistake?”

Posnanski: “It’s somewhere in the middle. That’s a tough one. I don’t want to dodge it. I think he did a lot of good in his life and I think he did make a tragic mistake.”

Costas: “At his best, was he a good man?”

Posnanski: “Definitely. At his best, I think it’s too long and too distinguished and too many achievements to think that it was worth nothing.”

Paterno reviews aren’t kind: Time says ‘Bad timing’; Atlantic cites ‘failed defense’

I’m not the only one. The reviews have been tough on Joe Posnanski’s new book Paterno.

They cite many of the same themes I had in my review.

The Atlantic’s Allen Barra writes:

It’s not enough to say that Posnanski does not do well relating the facts of the Sandusky case and Paterno’s role in it. The truth is that he doesn’t really try. “Joe Paterno was fired,” he tells us at the end, “why and how the board [Penn State trustees] made its decision is not my story to tell.” If not Paterno’s biographer’s, one wonders, then whose story is it? And what is so complicated about that story?

Time and again, Posnanski writes as if it was his intention to make clear issues cloudy.

Like me, Sean Gregory of Time wasn’t all that interested in details of Paterno’s life prior to the scandal hitting last November:

As for the rest of the bio, the material not related to the Sandusky scandal and its fallout, covering the first 84 years, not the final couple of months, of Paterno’s life: I can’t speak to that part, because I haven’t read it yet. And I’m not sure I will any time soon.

That’s nothing against Posnanski, one of the best sportswriters in the country. It’s simply a timing issue. Posnanski started this project well before the scandal broke, and he in large part stuck to his original plans. “What follows is the story of Joe Paterno’s life,” he writes at the beginning of the book. But on the heels of the Freeh Report, which contained evidence that Paterno did know about the initial, 1998 allegation of Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior – he previously denied being aware of it – and that Paterno had more influence on Penn State’s handling of the allegations that he had previously let on, Paterno’s life story, familiar to most sports fans to begin with, doesn’t seem very germane.

Guy Cipriano of the Centre Daily Times writes that Posnanski failed to take full advantage of the access Paterno gave him:

The legal drama of the past nine months altered Posnanski’s project, which he reportedly received a $750,000 advance to pursue. But Posnanski, it should be noted, received access to Paterno that no other journalist had in the later stages of the longtime coach’s life. Paterno died of lung cancer on Jan. 22.

He did little with the access beyond rehashing Paterno’s on-field results and offering anecdotes from former players. The “Joe did this for me” stories add no additional layers to the book.  Besides timing, nothing separates “Paterno” from other biographies about the coach. The final stages of Paterno’s life are among his most fascinating yet the book offers few visuals of last season other than scenes outside his house after his firing.

Anybody who covered Penn State football in the past 15 years wanted nothing more than 15 exclusive minutes with Paterno. Many beat writers loathed the access Posnanski was granted. Few will envy what the access produced.

Dwight Garner of the New York Times:

“Paterno” doesn’t shy away from whatever truth is behind any of this stuff. But the author talks to many, many former players who felt lucky to know this man, who say he taught them about decency and hard work and changed their lives forever.

Was Paterno a phony? Someone once suggested something similar about the longtime Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden. Mr. Posnanski reprints a sportswriter’s response to that insinuation here: “Well, to do it that long, it’s one hell of an act.”

Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly:

Despite all of the man-hours Posnanski poured into his book and his unbelievable access to Paterno — the long heart-to-hearts with the ailing coach over his beloved handmade kitchen table — Posnanski doesn’t really unveil anything about the case that hasn’t been reported elsewhere. There are no scoops here. No “A-ha” moments. No dramatic, teary Barbara Walters-style confessions.

Paterno review: Posnanski book disjointed; hardly was objective observer

Clearly, this wasn’t the book Joe Posnanski wanted to write.

Posnanski wanted his version of Paterno to be an inside look at a legendary coach who did it the right way. The coach who was beloved throughout the country. Black turf shoes, rolled up pants and white socks. That Joe Paterno.

Posnanski would spend an interesting and insightful year in State College, Pa., hanging out with the coach and his family. Then he would channel all that research into a thoughtful writing process with Paterno hitting bookstores in time for Father’s Day in 2013.

That was the original plan until Jerry Sandusky became a household word.

Everything changed on that fateful November weekend. For Penn State, Paterno, and for Posnanski.

The end result is a hastily-rushed to market book that is disjointed at best and apologetic at worst. It probably couldn’t be anything else given the circumstances that Posnanski faced.

For starters, Posnanski wants us to view Paterno’s life in full. So after an opening chapter in which his introduces the Sandusky scandal, he veers in the coach’s life story, beginning with his roots in Brooklyn. There are tales of working with Rip Engle, his early days as a coach, and his quick rise to the top.

Under ordinary circumstances, it likely would be fascinating reading. And Posnanski is a terrific writer, one of the best in the business.

But nothing is ordinary since last November. All those details seem meaningless in light of what has transpired.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to cut to the chase. In reality, the book begins on page 247 with a chapter simply titled, “Sandusky.”

Really, does anything else matter?


Posnanski details the animosity between Paterno and his long-time defensive coach. There are some interesting revelations there. Long before any of the allegations hit, Paterno viewed Sandusky as being extremely immature and to have lost his drive and focus in the 90s.

Shortly thereafter, the name of Mike McQueary is introduced and the story of the incident he witnessed in the showers. And it all begins.

In the last section of the book, titled “The Final Act,” Posnanski does take readers into the Paterno home during those November days when everything exploded. He writes about how Paterno only wanted to focus on the upcoming Nebraska game, a game his children soon realized he never would coach.

Paterno is portrayed in this episode as old and out-of-touch. Perhaps he didn’t fully comprehend what was going on? He asks, “What is sodomy?”

However, the timing of the book’s release never allowed Posnanski to delve completely into the Freeh Commission findings that Paterno knew of Sandusky’s problem as early as 1998 and that he was part of a Penn State cover-up. The report certainly seems to suggest that Paterno lied even to his family.


Posnanski says he wanted to write “a truthful” book about Paterno. Perhaps in his mind, he did.

The last chapter, titled “Encore,” shows the disjointed nature of the book. It features vignettes of people recalling their memories of Paterno. They tell of the impact he had on their lives.

Posnanski, though, included a kitchen table conversation he had with Paterno after he had been fired. He writes:

“What do you think of all this?” he asked me again.

I had not intended to include this in the book. It was a personal moment between writer and subject, but as the story has played out, I decided it was important. I told him that I thought he should have done more when he was told about Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy. I had heard what he had said about not understanding the severity, not knowing much about child molestation, not having Sandusky as an employee. But, I said, “You are Joe Paterno. Right or wrong, people expect more from you.”

He nodded. He did not try to defend or deflect. He simply said, “I wish I had done more,” again.

I’m not sure why Posnanski questioned whether he should write that passage. It definitely needed to be included, although not necessarily in this section.

I also think Posnanski wanted to show everyone that he had confronted the coach about not doing more to stop Sandusky. To show he also came down on Paterno.

But didn’t it all seem a bit gentle to you? And what other conversations did Posnanski have on the subject of Sandusky and crimes? He had the access. How hard did he push the coach for the truth?


Posnanski hardly was an impartial observer. Clearly, he admired Paterno. And the family obviously liked him. If they didn’t, he wouldn’t have gotten access to the coach almost until the day he died.

At the end of the book, Posnanski quotes Paterno as calling him “Giuseppe.” That’s a term of endearment.

Clearly, there was a relationship here, a deep relationship. It comes through not only in Posnanski’s words, but also in pictures. I thought it was telling that the back inside cover photo showed Paterno being carried off the field by his players.

That picture, that’s the book Posnanski wanted to write. Unfortunately, the end of Paterno’s life changed everything.




Today Show interview: Posnanski says Paterno story, ‘very, very complicated’

After much anticipation, Joe Posnanski’s biography, Paterno, hits the bookstores today. I received my copy yesterday. There’s a lot of stuff to digest, and I’ll post a review tomorrow.

After being silent for so long, Posnanski is making the rounds. This morning Matt Lauer interviewed him on the Today Show.

From the interview, Posnanski said:

On how the book changed in mid-course: “The mission statement from the start was to write the most honest book I could about Joe Paterno. Obviously, the story changed dramatically at the end.”

On being inside Paterno’s home when the scandal hit: “It was such an odd place to be. I wanted to put the reader there.”

On how Paterno should be remembered: “I wrote 125,000 words on how he should be remembered. It is very, very complicated. If you read the book, you see how many people’s lives were changed by him. You can’t ignore those people. At the same time, you can’t ignore the evil of Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno, among others, was in position to stop him and didn’t. You can’t ignore any of that. To me, the book is the book, and the life is the life.”

Paterno book: Early reviews mixed; Full excerpt on GQ show coach being out of touch

The Paterno book hits the bookstores tomorrow. But thanks to an excerpt on GQ and some early reviews, feedback is starting to come in on Joe Posnanski’s effort.

Rich Hoffman of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote a column after reading the book. The headline for the piece reads: “Paterno bio is insightful and incomplete.”

He writes:

The book – I bought “Paterno” in a bookstore on Saturday, ahead of its  Tuesday publication date – is not a prosecutor’s brief against Paterno, and no  one should have expected one. Neither, though, is it a full-throated defense.  Given extraordinary access to the man, literally until his dying days, Posnanski  does what Posnanski always has done best as a writer: context and texture. As  everything around Paterno shook and then fell, you see a man and his family and  his confidants at the epicenter.

Whether you like the portrait or not, and whether you can even definite it  concisely – the best word here might be complicated – is beside the  point. The truth is that it is a portrait very much in three dimensions. In that  sense, Posnanski succeeds.

However, Hoffman believes Posnanski came up short in describing how Paterno handled the Mike McQuery situation and whether he knew about Jerry Sandusky’s crimes in 1998.

Hoffman writes:

To me, the key is 1998. If Paterno did know about those allegations, as the  Curley emails suggest, and he still did not act to alert authorities in 2001 (or  even recommended against contacting authorities), it changes everything – and  everybody knows it.

Posnanski makes a couple of passing references along the way but essentially  deals with those 1998 emails in one paragraph in the middle of the book. It does not seem enough.

Deadspin’s Dom Cosentino writes about the final chapter.

The book’s final chapter is a collection of unrelated anecdotes about Paterno as told by his children and several of his former players. Much of the chapter is light.

Cosentino then writes that during a session at Paterno’s house, the coach asks Posnanski his view on what he should have done.

From the book:

I had not intended to include this in the book. It was a personal moment between writer and subject. But as the story has played out, I decided it was important. I told him that I thought he should have done more when he was told Jerry Sandusky was showering with a boy. I had heard what he had said about not understanding the severity, not knowing much about child molestation, not having Sandusky as an employee. But, I said, “You are Joe Paterno. Right or wrong, people expect more from you.”

He nodded. He did not try to defend or deflect. He said simply, “I wish I had done more,” again, and then descended into another coughing fit.

Curiously, that passage wasn’t in the GQ excerpts. If you recall, Sports Illustrated passed on running the excerpts. The magazine felt the material in the book didn’t measure up.

I disagree with SI’s decision, because the excerpts have been quoted everywhere. However, the GQ excerpts don’t foreshadow that there will be any new startling revelations in the book. If anything, they portray the coach as a rather out-of-touch old man who stayed around way too long.

When his son Scott first confronted his father about the charges against Sandusky on that November Saturday, Paterno’s reply was to say, “I’ve got Nebraska (the next game) to worry about. I can’t worry about this.”

There was this telling passage in which Paterno had to be persuaded to read the presentment.

On Monday, the family tried to persuade Paterno to read the presentment. He objected that he already knew what was in there, but they told him there was no room left for illusion. D’Elia would remember telling him, “You realize that the people out there think you knew about this? They think you had to know because you know about everything.”

“That’s their opinion!” Paterno shouted. “I’m not omniscient!”

“They think you are!” D’Elia roared back.

Later, D’Elia described watching Paterno read the presentment: “What did he know about perverted things like that? When he asked Scott, ‘What is sodomy, anyway?’ I thought my heart was going to break.”

I love access and I believe the best and most relevant part of the book will be about the access Posnanski had to Paterno and his family during those final days.

However, the book is about Paterno’s entire life and career. The brutal end is just a part of it. It will be interesting to see how people view all the “positives” that took place during his long tenure.

Much more to come on this story.






Why isn’t Simon & Schuster doing more to promote Paterno book on its site? Posnanski not listed for any appearances

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but I find it interesting that Simon & Schuster is doing minimal promotion on its site for Joe Posnanski’s Paterno book.

All that really exists is a separate page about the book. You have to do a search to find it on the site.

There is no mention of Paterno on Simon & Schuster’s home page. Curious, but maybe that’s because the book hasn’t been released?

Then I saw a tab for “Coming Soon.” Certainly, Paterno would be mentioned there, considering the book is coming out Tuesday.

However, under the “Coming Soon” highlights for Aug. 21, there were three books being promoted under non-fiction. None of them were named Paterno.

Simon & Schuster might have its reasons for not doing more to promote Paterno. I don’t know for sure because I’m still waiting to receive a return phone call from the book’s publicist.

However, it certainly seems strange, doesn’t it? This is a highly-anticipated book in which the high-profile author received a huge advance (reportedly in the $750,000 range). You usually pound the drum pretty hard for these kind of projects.

If the Sandusky crimes never happened, and the book was indeed about the legendary life of a beloved college coach as was first intended, I would imagine Paterno would be splashed all over the Simon & Schuster site.

Indeed, you could tell the publisher initially had big hopes for Paterno with this opening line to the blurb.

Joe Posnanski’s biography of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno follows in the tradition of works by Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio and David Maraniss on Vince Lombardi.

All the ingredients were there for a bestseller, but it didn’t turn out that way. Instead, Simon & Schuster now is looking at a controversial book that could get panned big time. The backlash against Paterno is severe.

My local bookstore owner doesn’t have high expectations for the book. “Nobody wants to read about Paterno,” the owner said.

By going low-key on the site, it certainly seems as if Simon & Schuster is hedging its bets on Paterno. Perhaps, the publisher doesn’t want to get too far out in front if the book turns out to be a bust.


Here’s another interesting twist. Simon & Schuster has an alphabetical listing for upcoming author appearances. For instance, Nick Faldo is going to be at a bookstore in New Jersey on Nov. 14.

One name is conspicuously absent from the list. You guess it: Joe Posnanski.

In July, a New York Times story quoted a representative of the Philadelphia library, where Posnanski was supposed to appear, as saying Simon & Schuster decided to hold off on a tour.


Actor Joe Mantegna is the reader for the audio version of the book. He’s an avid sports fan and a long-time Cubs sufferer. It would be interesting to get his view of the book.


I have said several times that I am a big admirer of Posnanski’s work. If anyone can pull this off, it would be him. For his sake, I hope he does.

I guess we’ll know more on Tuesday.








Q/A with BTN President: A regret and bouncing back with 4-plus hours of coverage today

The Big Ten Network did what it is supposed to do today. Cover the big news and cover it hard.

The BTN was on the air for 4-plus hours this morning covering the fallout from the NCAA handing down harsh sanctions to Penn State. The network had reporters in State College and Indianapolis, numerous phone interviews, and the studio team of Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith offered clear and measured analysis.

All in all, it was quite a contrast to what occurred nearly two weeks ago when the BTN was hammered from not airing live coverage of the explosive Freeh Commission press conference. Instead, the network ran a replay of an old football game.

What changed? I just did a Q/A with BTN President Mark Silverman.

Why didn’t the network cover the Freeh press conference?

We wanted to have covered it. Frankly, it was human error. There was an internal communications issue. We regret not having shown that press conference.

What went into the decision behind today’s coverage?

We need to cover the story as well as any other news entity. We knew this was going to happen, and it allowed us to get ahead of the game.

I like we have such experts on the Big Ten. You have Howard, who was a former player; Gerry was a former coach; and Dave brings the journalistic integrity. You bring it all together and try to provide as thorough coverage as possible.

When you didn’t cover the Freeh press conference, there was a perception that the BTN, which is owned by the conference and member schools, doesn’t want to handle negative news. How do you address that perception?

That couldn’t be further from the truth. The conference wants us to be credible. We’re going to be honest and candid in our coverage. It’s not in our best interest to sugarcoat things.

I wanted to bring in reporters from other entities today. I didn’t want it to be only our announcers. I wanted to have a cross section of people to have the debate and discussion. These are difficult topics, and we want to handle them carefully. But we have to be candid.

Since November, we haven’t shied away from this topic. We had a big miss which we regret, but other than that we’ve covered the story well and have been a service to our viewers.

DiNardo was a friend of Paterno and has spoke of his admiration of the coach. Yet he has been critical about what transpired. What’s been your reaction to how DiNardo has handled this situation?

Gerry is a professional. He brings a candid view. But if you look closely, you could see the emotion he’s experiencing over someone he considered a close friend.

Going forward, if the Penn State football team falls from the weight of the sanctions as expected, what will be the implications for their games from a ratings standpoint?

That’s a difficult question to address. What kind of impact will it have on ratings remains to be seen. I just don’t know the answer.






No longer marquee: ESPN, Big Ten Network losers with Penn State sanctions

Regarding the NCAA’s announcement, since this is a sports media site, I’ll discuss the TV aspect:

Make no mistake, when the Big Ten added Penn State as its 11th school in the early 1990s, a major component was television. The addition of the school delivered the large Eastern TV market to the conference. It led to marque match-ups with Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions going up against Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, not to mention attractive non-conference games against Alabama, etc.

Penn State’s presence then gave the conference a wide enough national footprint to launch the wildly successful Big Ten Network.

The Big Ten will continue to cash in on a TV deal with ESPN that runs through 2016-17, and the BTN isn’t going anywhere.

But both of its broadcast outlets will feel the pain of the NCAA’s sanctions. Gone for many years is the idea of Penn State football being a marquee draw for television.

Frankly, I think Penn State would have been better off with a one-year “Death Penalty.” The unprecedented long-term penalties for bowls and scholarships are devastating. Unless new coach Bill O’Brien pulls off a miracle, the Nittany Lions are doomed to be 2-10, 1-11 for several years. Or as one tweeter said, “Penn State just became Indiana.”

Penn State had been a showcase team for the Big Ten, with several of its games playing in primetime. In fact, it has two on the schedule for 2012: an Oct. 20 game at Iowa, and Oct. 27 at home against Ohio State.

Will those games be moved back to afternoon starting times? Probably.

Suddenly, Penn State-Ohio State, Penn State-Iowa, or Penn State-anything no longer looks attractive. Perhaps there might be a curiosity factor at first to see how the Nittany Lions and their fans react to the sanctions. But if the product on the field suffers, as expected, viewers won’t watch for long. Those 40-0 blowouts can get boring fast.

Also, bowl TV will be impacted by the four-year postseason ban. Penn State always delivered solid ratings in the bowls.

The brand of Penn State has been diminished, if not decimated. The program was one of the great TV draws throughout the years. Now it is the object of national scorn.

Last fall, I attended the Northwestern-Penn State game. After the Nittany Lions won in what turned out to be Paterno’s final road game, its faithful fans marched through the streets of Evanston, proudly chanting “We are Penn State, We are Penn State…”

Looking back, I wonder what those fans are thinking now.













Sports Illustrated’s Wertheim: Posnanski book may be ‘literary version of Matt Millen fiasco’

Yet another post in the continuing saga of the Paterno book:

Jon Wertheim appears on The Sports-Casters podcast this week. Wertheim has been part of Sports Illustrated’s coverage of Penn State and spent time with Joe Posnanski in State College.

When Sports-Casters’ Steve Bennett asked about the growing controversy over Posnanski’s upcoming book about the now tarnished coach, Wertheim emitted a large groan.

Clearly, he didn’t want to weigh in about a sensitive subject regarding his former colleague and somebody greatly admired in the sportswriting fraternity. However, years of enduring athletes and coaches duck the tough questions made Wertheim feel compelled to comment.

Like others, Wertheim, the author of seven books, thinks Posnanski and Simon & Schuster are making a mistake by rushing the book to market in August. He said:

My better instincts are telling me to say “no comment,” but there is something terminally lame about a journalist whose whole job it is to advance stories and get people to talk to play the no comment card.

It is just an impossible situation for Joe. Impossible. I suspect that if he knew any of this, he never would have ever taken this book deal. There is no way to put a good face on this. Whether we want to admit it or not, there are commercial pressures. I think that I would have not have gone along with my publisher’s wishes to capitalize on the timeliness and rush the book out for late this summer. There is no way that was going to end cleanly; it just couldn’t be done. We all knew that this Freeh report was coming; we know there is going to be civil litigation; and more stuff is going to come out.

There is a business decision and I get that. There is a publisher that has made a significant investment. But I think sometimes you need to just fold at the poker table. Joe did not want to be Sara Ganim. Joe had a certain book in mind and his research was geared toward that and this was a huge hairpin turn. He did not want to own the story and start competing with Sara Ganim.

I’m not sure how anyone benefits with rushing a book out. It takes advantage of the timing, but it’s awful timing. It’s timing that basically just obliterates Joe Paterno. If I’m (Posnanski), I may have just cut bait. I also might have said let’s really take a step back and wait…I have a feeling this is not going to be pretty.

The great lesson that Paterno may have taught (a player) pales in comparison to the cover-up. People who read the book will say they don’t care about (his great deeds). I worry this will be the literary version of the Matt Millen fiasco.

It all seems really insignificant in the face of this horrible story. I like Joe (Posnanski) personally. I like Joe professionally. I would love to see him do this book in 2014 when all the facts come out. In 2012, boy, how do you release a book about a guy when bombs are going off? I don’t envy him, but I have a hard time seeing how this plays out when you have a book six weeks after such a damming report comes out.