For most people, it seems, the takeaway from James Franklin’s introductory news conference on Saturday was his cute daughters, his enthusiasm for college football, and/or his pledge to “dominate the state” in recruiting. But this is what stood out to me:
Someone asked Franklin about what his message to Penn State players would be, and that caused Franklin to launch into a tale about how hard he’ll be working—and when. He said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do in a very, very short period of time, and it’s time sensitive because of the recruiting process as well. Basically when we leave here probably until 2 in the morning, and we’ll be back up at 3 or 4 in the morning getting going again. Luckily, I’m fortunate I’m not a guy that needs a whole lot of sleep. My wife does. We always have those discussions. She’s amazed that I can get by on five hours sleep. That’s just kind of who I am.”
This caused me to listen closer because I had just put the finishing touches on a feature for our March/April issue—a Q&A with Alan Derickson, professor of labor and employment relations and history, about his new book: Dangerously Sleepy: Overworked Americans and the Cult of Manly Wakefulness. I love the title, and better than that, the topic is really interesting. Derickson traces hundreds of years of American history, looking to explain how sleep deprivation came to be seen as a virtue. Among the culprits: Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Charles Lindbergh … and football coaches.
Derickson focuses on steelworkers, Pulllman porters, and long-haul truckers to explain, in real terms, the problems of insufficient sleep. Stay tuned for the upcoming Q&A. In the meantime, you can check out this Harvard Business Review piece to get a sense of Derickson’s research.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Two of the running jokes around the office involve me: (1) Every time I go on vacation, big Penn State news breaks and (2) Every time it’s my turn to do The Daily, there are scandal and/or legal-related updates. I was wine tasting in Sonoma when when Bill O’Brien left to coach the Houston Texans, and today, my first day back on Daily Duty, there’s so much scandal-related news that there’s barely any coverage of what’s probably the most interesting part of it—the judge’s decision in the NCAA lawsuit, released late afternoon Tuesday. I hate to be a cliche, but I guess there is a pattern.
Paterno lawsuit going forward: More than two months after retired Potter County judge John Leete heard arguments as to whether the lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the Paterno family along with some faculty, trustees, former lettermen, and former coaches should go forward, he released his decision—a nuanced, detailed 25-page document that I had to read twice before I began to fully understand it. The upshot is this: the legality of the consent decree (breach of contract) will not be litigated unless Penn State itself joins the lawsuit because Leete ruled that the university is an “indispensable” party, but other parts of the lawsuit, including several defamation claims and a civil conspiracy claim, will go forward. Wrote Leete: “Penn State’s absence does not require dismissal of the entire Complaint. Plaintiffs’ tort claims stand on a different footing than the contract claims because they do not require rulings affecting Penn State’s rights in any significant way.”
I don’t know anyone who thinks that Penn State is suddenly going to change its mind and sue the NCAA, so don’t expect any movement on the consent decree. But this decision does mean that the discovery phase will begin, and that means that subpoenas could be forthcoming. In a statement, Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers called the decision a “significant victory” and added, “With this ruling the bright light of legal discovery will finally shine on the facts and records of all parties involved.”
Coverage of this has been scant so far, but my friend Mike Dawson ’02 of the Centre Daily Times did a nice job, getting NCAA reaction, as well, and Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann has some quickie analysis on his Twitter feed (you have to scan down and expand to see the conversations). Among McCann’s observations: “My instinct is NCAA now pursues settlement w/Paterno family, but I could see family saying no deal unless NCAA publicly says sorry.”
Sandusky pension hearing: Jerry Sandusky ’67, ’71g testified via video link for about three hours Tuesday in an attempt to get his Penn State pension restored. He lost it because of a state law that allows for the forfeiture of pensions for people convicted of certain crimes, but he is maintaining that he was not a Penn State employee when the crimes occurred. Mike Dawson ’02, who had a really busy day, has the strongest story, which details how much of the testimony weirdly recounted Sandusky’s performance as a defensive coordinator.
Spanier v. Freeh: As if that weren’t enough legal news, there was another hearing Tuesday morning about whether Graham Spanier needs to file more than an intent to sue Louis Freeh for defamation. Spanier’s attorney contends that’s enough given that the criminal case is proceeding. Freeh’s attorneys said more details about the potential lawsuit are required.
No coach yet: And, yeah, the search for Penn State’s next football coach continues. The Patriot-News has a ton of coverage, ranging from an interview with Bill O’Brien’s right-hand guy, Jim Bernhardt, by Audrey Snyder ’12 to David Jones’ column on why Penn State needs stability in its next coach. For the latest rumors and hand-wringing, of course, go to Twitter.
RIP Mary Jo Haverbeck: Like all of my friends and colleagues who cover Penn State sports and/or women’s sports, I’m mourning the death of Mary Jo Haverbeck ’76g, retired associate sports information director and the first woman inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America’s Hall of Fame. Mary Jo worked behind the scenes, but she’s one of the main reasons that Penn State’s women’s sports teams became so prominent, as Centre Daily Times sports editor Walt Moody points out in a lovely tribute to Mary Jo. I’m one of the many, many people Mary Jo went out of her way to mentor, and I can’t say enough how much she taught me and what a nice person she was. I’ll try, though, in another blog post within a day or two.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Back in November, I spent a terrific day at Discovery-U, listening to some of Penn State’s faculty in science, technology, and engineering discuss their research—and, equally interesting for me, as a Liberal Arts kind of girl, why their research matters. I was really impressed that so many of the professors and researchers were able to discuss their work in a way that I understood. It was a fascinating day.
One of the talks that jumped out at me was the one given by Khanjan Mehta ’83g, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program. It was called “The Problem With The Potential Solution,” and it addressed why technological solutions don’t always—perhaps “rarely” is a better word—make the lives of people in developing countries better. By about three minutes into the 15-minute talk, I was emailing my colleagues at the office, telling them how this talk was making me think and wondering if we could find a way to cover it in the magazine. Within two weeks, we had adapted Mehta’s talk into a piece that you’ll find in our January/February issue. We called it Why Ideas Fail, and we hope it will make you think, as well.
You can watch Mehta’s talk by clicking here for a video produced by WPSU. Discovery-U had a lot of other speakers, too, and the organizers are hoping that videos of the TED-style talks will reach an even wider audience than they did in the HUB Auditorium. For the entire Discovery-U YouTube channel, click here. And enjoy.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Playing for a … six-peat? The women’s volleyball team pounded Washington—and I mean pounded Washington, which was basically playing a home game—late Thursday night, 25-14, 25-13, 25-16, in the NCAA semifinals. The Nittany Lions will play conference foe Wisconsin (which upset top-ranked Texas) for the NCAA title at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The Nittany Lions have won five national titles, their last when current star seniors Deja McClendon, Ariel Scott, and Katie Slay were freshmen. Safe to say, those ladies want to go out as they came in—as NCAA champs. In this Centre Daily Times story, McClendon said, “This is the fire I think that you need to win it all.” Play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins called Penn State’s performance “one of the most dominant we’ve seen in the NCAA semifinals.” But Coach Russ Rose, named national coach of the year for the fifth time before the game, was, as usual, a little more laid-back: “I believe the seniors have a pretty good handle on what we need to do. We’ll see if we can do it one more time.”
And a big wrestling match, too: It’s a good thing my in-laws are awesome and my husband is a sports writer, because otherwise I’d be in trouble Saturday night, when I need to watch not only the NCAA volleyball title match, but the wrestling team, which will be competing at Iowa at 9 p.m. on Big Ten Network. If you remember, the match was “scheduled on Twitter” after the Big Ten schedule didn’t have these two powerhouses wrestling a dual. (Iowa coach Tom Brands has tweeted once since the early September scheduling flurry, and that tweet was two words: Tony Ramos.) Iowa would like to regain the NCAA dual attendance record, but even if it doesn’t, it’ll be a raucous Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Get ready with this match preview from Jim Carlson for PennLive.com.
Semester’s end: Graduation is Saturday—5,133 people will be receiving degrees, including one student who will travel about 6,000 miles to receive her degree—Hiroko Tanako of Japan, who has earned a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction, children’s literature, from World Campus. Tanako said: “I have watched American university graduations on television. I would like to experience commencement with the cap and gown. It will be my first time wearing it.”
Happy Holidays: The university will close for the holidays at the end of business today. We’ll be back publishing The Daily on Jan. 2, 2014.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Legal update: Here’s the short story: Tuesday’s pretrial hearing produced no clarity on whether Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, Penn State’s former general counsel, will be able to testify in the trial of Graham Spanier, Tim Curley ’76, ’78g, and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g. The judge said that rather than hear testimony from Baldwin, he will make his ruling based on the documents. You can see links to some of those documents here in a Patriot-News story. The basic issue is whether Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege when she testified to the grand jury and, therefore, whether her testimony is admissible in court. But the question is complicated. This Centre Daily Times story, based on additional documents, explains that Penn State waived attorney-client privilege, allowing Baldwin to testify. If you’ve got the time and have been following this case closely, the documents are really worth your time to check out.
Behind the scenes of Lunar Lion: If you read our November/December cover story or any of the other coverage, you know a little about Lunar Lion, its goal to land a spacecraft on the moon by 2015, and the giant university effort involved in the project. Those stories went big. Here’s one that goes small and shows what Lunar Lion is doing on a micro scale. Bobby Chen of Onward State tells the story of Philip Chow, a sophomore who is leading the procurement of parts for the effort. Yeah, a sophomore. Buying parts for a mission to the moon. In between classes. That’s likely unprecedented, and it’s a great story. Full disclosure: Bobby originally wrote this for my news writing class.
O’Brien watch: If you’re still obsessing over Bill O’Brien’s potential NFL opportunities, Dave Jones of the Patriot-News breaks down his options here.
Relax, says Mike the Mailman: According to Mike the Mailman—and, really, who do you trust more?—you’ve got until Saturday, Dec. 21, to get packages mailed in time to get there by Christmas. At least, that’s the case at Mike’s post office. Christian Heilman has the video story for Penn State’s Centre County Report. If you want faster service, Christian says, there’s a solution—bring cookies. Again, at least at Mike’s post office.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
At the November meeting of the Board of Trustees’ governance and long-range planning committee, everyone seemed to agree on one thing: There were ways that the process of electing alumni trustees could be streamlined and clarified.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know for this next election cycle, which runs from mid-January to early May 2014:
—Getting a ballot: Anyone who is a member of the Alumni Association, who has donated to Penn State within the past two years, or who has requested a ballot for either the 2012 or 2013 election will automatically receive an election ballot by email in April. They’ll also receive a nomination ballot by email on Jan. 15. One caveat: You must have a valid email address on file with Penn State (see below).
—How to nominate: When you get the email on Jan. 15, go to the link provided in that email and name whoever you want to nominate. If you do not submit your names, you are able to update your list of names until the nomination period ends on Feb. 25. (Once you hit the “submit” button, though, you won’t be able to add any additional ones.) Alums who receive at least 50 nominations will be contacted by the Board of Trustees office and asked if they are interested in running. If the answer is yes, and if they meet the qualifications to serve on the board, those alums will be added to the ballot.
—How to cast a ballot: The candidates will be announced by Penn State in late February. The election starts Thursday, April 10, and ends at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 8. You will receive a ballot automatically by April 10 if you meet the above criteria. If you get a nomination email, you will get a ballot email.
And here are a couple of procedural details that can make the process easier:
—If you don’t get a nomination form or ballot: If you’re an alum and you don’t get the nomination email on Jan. 15, you can request one in one of two ways: (1) Go to psu.edu/trustees/2014election or (2) call Votenet toll-free at 866-307-0041.
—Update your email: The nomination and ballot emails will go to the latest address on file. Make sure yours is correct by going to alumni.psu.edu/about_us/contact_us/update_info.
To see the official Penn State news release on the process, click here.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
“Academic Heisman” to Urschel: What else is there to say about John Urschel? The “mathematician/guard,” as the headline on this USA Today story called him, received a particularly prestigious honor Tuesday night—the William V. Campbell trophy, given to college football’s top scholar-athlete by the National Football Foundation. (If you need a refresher, one of the earlier long profiles about Urschel, by Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record, is good reading.) Steven J. Hatchell, president and CEO of the National Football Foundation, said that Urschel “represents everything that is right about college football.” At this point, let’s just hear from Urschel ’12, ’13g himself: Click here for this acceptance speech. It is, of course, terrific.
Workin’ on the railroad: I’m not a huge fan of Google alerts, but I will admit that when they work, they are amazing. I did not know that Penn State Altoona is the only university in the country offering a four-year degree in rail transportation engineering until I read this piece from Progressive Railroading, which details the program and why it’s important: “Penn State launched the degree three years ago at the urging of railroad and transit executives who noted the need for more education and training designed for future railroaders.” Three years ago, the program enrolled its first nine students, and with a little word of mouth, they’ve got 19 more freshmen and sophomores.
Health care back in the news: The Faculty Senate met Tuesday, and the hot topic was Penn State’s health care program, which received national attention this fall, first because it used sticks rather than carrots to spur employees toward healthy habits, then because of the controversy over whether employees were required to disclose too much personal information. That program was modified, and the university has appointed a committee to examine the issue, but the Faculty Senate still isn’t thrilled with how the committee is constituted.
Nearing the end: President Rod Erickson seems to be doing a series of end-of-semester interviews; he spoke with with Christian Heilman of the Centre County Report, and an interview with him is the top story in today’s Collegian. He says his final semester as president will be “bittersweet.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
For some people, getting ready for a wrestling match in the Bryce Jordan Center probably meant some changes in routine. The ticket office, for instance, had more than double the number of tickets to sell compared to regular old matches in Rec Hall. And the fire marshal apparently had to determine if enough people to break the NCAA record for dual match attendance could fit safely into the BJC.
For the wrestlers and coaches? No big deal, unless you count weighing in at Rec Hall and then taking vans to the match across campus. “A wrestling mat’s a wrestling mat, wherever it is,” coach Cael Sanderson said. “Whether people are watching you or not, you should be the same person.”
That said, Sunday’s 28-9 victory over Pitt at the BJC was hardly routine.
It did have an NCAA atmosphere, with a the mat on a raised platform (“It makes a pretty sweet sound when you pick the guy up and slam him down on it,” said 184-pounder Wes Phipps, who knows because he did it), the wrestlers being followed by a spotlight as they ran onto the mat, where the Nittany Lions’ names were beamed onto the mat (last names except for Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford, who were apparently too long), and athletic trainer Dan Monthley wearing a tie, the kind of wardrobe adornment he saves for the biggies.
The weather likely kept some fans home—not every seat was filled—but the announced attendance, 15,996, not only broke the NCAA record for a dual-meet crowd (15,955, at a 2008 match between Iowa and Iowa State), but it was also (more…)
Road to Seattle: Senior women’s volleyball players Deja McClendon, Katie Slay, and Ariel Scott began their Penn State careers with a national title—they were freshmen when the Nittany Lions won the last of their four consecutive national titles in 2010. They’re hoping to end their careers in the same way. The Nittany Lions open NCAA tournament play in Rec Hall at 7:30 p.m. tonight against LIU-Brooklyn. The winner of that game will face Yale or Utah, which play tonight at 5, on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are seeded No. 2 overall, and they’re a blast to watch.
Art and football: What is it with Penn State football players and the art world? Former defensive end Matthew Rice is making a name for himself as a mural painter, and now here’s former defensive end Aaron Maybin, whose NFL career never really took off after he left Penn State early in 2009 with an exhibition at Art Basel, a big-deal festival in Miami that’s going on right now. In this video, Maybin discusses the relationship between football and art, saying he gets the “same joy” creating art as he gets from athletic competition, that he believes an artist is “the truest version of a storyteller that still exists,” and that he’s ready to paint when “I’m tormented by an idea.” There’s some adult language, but it’s an interesting conversation. And you can check out some of his work here.
Yoga with Doug: I love that Onward State decided to write about Doug Hayward, teacher of the only Penn State fitness class that has a name attached to it—yes, Yoga With Doug, which is not to be confused with any other yoga classes around here. I was lucky enough to take an on-campus class from Doug a couple of summers ago, and it is truly an experience. I spent half the time in awe of the way he contorted his body (and he didn’t need a mat!) and the other half learning that my body was capable of way more than I’d realized. If you’re in town, you can always check out the offerings at his State College studio, too.
Big stage: One of the cool things about covering Penn State’s wrestling team is the atmosphere in sold-out Rec Hall, which is always packed with fans who know the sport and who can be loud when the occasion calls for it. We’ll see this weekend what that fan base can do in a larger arena—the Bryce Jordan Center, which is sold out for Sunday’s match against Pitt. That’s 15,000 wrestling fans. This also gives me the chance to quote the most entertaining two paragraphs I’ve read this week, from the last item in the weekly notebook by Centre Daily Times wrestling writer Travis Johnson ’09:
“The plan is to have our guys running out like they do at the nationals and just kind of having fun with it,” Sanderson said. “There’s been talk of fireworks and cannons and those kind of things. I’ve kind of lost track of what they’re doing. We talked about it a couple of months ago. I think that’s the plan.”
A Penn State spokesman said pyrotechnics would not likely be used.
The wrestling team is warming up for that spotlight match in an awesome way—competing tonight at Boston University, which is dropping its team at the end of this season. When Sanderson, who’s been an ambassador and advocate for the sport asked the BU coach if there were anything to he could do to help, the coach asked if Penn State could come up and wrestle them. So Penn State is, and it’s hoping the attention will help to save the program.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Underdogs? 24-point underdogs? I’ll admit it: I was one of the doubters. I was the lector at Saturday night Mass, and I never dreamed that when I came out of church, the Nittany Lions would be on the verge of defeating No. 15 Wisconsin. I missed the entire second half, so I had a lot of catching up to do when I got home. Here’s what I did: watched this video from the locker room, this video of Bill O’Brien’s news conference, read this piece by Dave Jones of The Patriot-News about freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed 21 of 30 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns and is racking up all kinds of recognition, and checked out John McGonigal’s game story in the Collegian.
Looking to the future: Can’t wait for next football season? Get ready now by checking out this analysis by Mark Wogenrich ’90 of The Morning Call and this New York Times story about the future of the Big Ten, which adds Maryland and Rutgers—and a new division configuration—next season.
In other sports: The men’s soccer team lost 2-0 to New Mexico in the Sweet 16, but it finished the season with a 13-6-2 record and with a long road trip—nearly 5,000 miles in the air, 600 on the road in the NCAA tournament. … The women’s volleyball team finished its regular season with a four-set victory over long-time nemesis Nebraska in a match-up of two Top 10 programs in Lincoln, and it will, as usual, open the NCAA tournament at home, 7:30 p.m. Friday against LIU Brooklyn. … The men’s basketball team advanced to the final of the Barclays Center Classic but fell to Ole Miss, 79-76, despite 23 points from D.J. Newbill. … Tournament MVP Maggie Lucas led the women’s basketball team to the championship of the Junkajoo Jam in the Bahamas, where the players also scored some quality time with some friendly dolphins.
Legal update: A couple of months ago, former president Graham Spanier requested “a bill of particulars,” regarding the charges he is facing in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. The prosecution answered last week, and although most of Spanier’s requests were denied, the lawyers did provide a list of what they called Spanier’s false statements in his April 2011 testimony before a grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky ’67, ’71g. Charlie Thompson of The Patriot-News does a nice job here summarizing the legalese. Next up in the case against Spanier, Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g, and Tim Curley ’76, ’78g: a hearing on several pre-trial matters, including the defense’s motion to quash the testimony of former university council Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, is scheduled for the week of Dec. 16.
“Mom away from home:” That’s what the two-time national champion Lionettes dance team members call Sue Cacciotti Sherburne ’95g, ’09g, their director, who’s also assistant director of the Morgan Academic Support System for athletes. Chris Rosenblum of the Centre Daily Times writes that Sherburne “gives the Lionettes tools for moving through life as well as they do through space.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor