Posts tagged ‘Tom Bradley’
I walked from my office to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday, thinking I might be early enough to beat the crowds. I wasn’t close.
Heading toward the tail end of a line that snaked back and forth through the Pasquerilla courtyard, Disneyland-style, stretched east on the sidewalk along Curtin Road, and at times extended north onto Shortlidge Road almost to Park Avenue, I got a sense of the crowd that already had turned out for Joe Paterno. This was in the first hour of a 10-hour viewing window on Tuesday, with four more hours scheduled Wednesday morning. This was no surprise.
I joined the crowd and spent two hours in line, all but the last 10 minutes of it outside, before the final stretch. We entered the spiritual center through a side door, shuffled down a hallway and entered the main lobby, where a few more turns of the line finally led us into the main auditorium. The clumps of people thinned into a slow but steadily moving single file, which continued down the aisle on the left side of the large, high-ceilinged room. At the front lay a casket, adorned with flowers.
We turned right, the casket on our left, the already indelible black-and-white image of Paterno, arms crossed and smiling, the only other adornment. On each side of the casket stood a large young man—former Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark ’08 and a current player I didn’t recognize—part of the “honor guard” of lettermen who took turns aside their coach on the stage. The line had moved much more slowly in the early going, as some of those who’d come to pay their respects paused 15 or 20 seconds for prayer and reflection, a practice that must’ve been discouraged by funeral officials mindful of the tens of thousands still to come. By the time I got there, it seemed instinctive for each of us to stop for just a beat before moving on.
Jay Paterno ’91 stood for a time not far from the exit, shaking every hand presented him. I’m told his brother Scott ’97 did the same at other times during the 10-hour public viewing. I don’t know if their other siblings or Joe’s widow, Sue ’62, met the crowd, but it seems safe to assume they did. The Paterno family has made no secret of their appreciation for the public support they’ve received over the past few months.
A friend who was an hour or so behind me in line texted me later to tell me that Tom Bradley ’78, Paterno’s former player, longtime assistant, and interim replacement, had made his way down the line on Curtin Road. As far as my friend could tell, Bradley shook the hand of every person in the line and offered the same words to each of them: “Thanks for coming out for Coach.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor
First impressions won’t help Bill O’Brien win a single football game — not directly, anyway — but Penn State’s 15th head football coach knew there was much more at stake Saturday morning. In his introduction as the Nittany Lions’ new coach, O’Brien looked and sounded like a man who understood those stakes. He also didn’t look the least bit intimidated.
Greeting a packed Nittany Lion Inn ballroom with the words “This is unbelievable,” O’Brien came off intense, confident, and fully aware of what he’s gotten himself into. With his wife, Colleen, and the younger of his two sons sitting in the front row and roughly 100 media members crammed in behind them, O’Brien offered a statement and took questions. He covered a lot of ground. Among the highlights:
—He acknowledged the unrest regarding the coaching search among fans and former players, reading from a letter he’d written in which he asked for the chance to earn Penn Staters’ respect: “There is so much pride in Penn State, and we will never take that for granted, ever.” (It’s worth noting that LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short, former players who were most critical of the search that led to O’Brien’s hiring, have begun walking back their comments, and the Football Letterman’s Club on Saturday released a letter welcoming O’Brien and pledging support.)
—He spoke of growing up admiring Penn State’s program and image, and Joe Paterno in particular. Of his fellow Brown alum, O’Brien said, “I can’t wait to meet him at some point.”
—He said he planned to complete his coaching staff in the next “two or three days,” and while not ruling out any other members of the current staff, announced that Nittany Lion defensive line coach and ace recruiter Larry Johnson Sr. will be retained. (Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley released a statement Saturday all but confirming his time at the program has come to an end.)
—He spoke briefly of his football philosophy, promising a “game-plan offense” — a phrase that immediately had the message boards buzzing, and which seems to imply innovation and adaptability to what opposing defenses present — and a continuation of Penn State’s reputation for dominant defenses.
There’s much, much more, and if you missed it, you can watch O’Brien’s press conference — including introductory remarks from University president Rod Erickson and acting athletic director Dave Joyner — in its entirety on BTN.com. I imagine we’ll be writing about Coach O’Brien once or twice in the coming days and weeks as well.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Nearly 24 hours after his hiring was reported by the media, and nearly two months after Joe Paterno’s six-decade tenure came to an end, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien on Friday was officially announced as the 15th head coach in Penn State football history.
O’Brien, who reportedly signed a five-year contract, will be introduced Saturday morning in a press conference at the Nittany Lion Inn. The press conference will be carried live at 11:30 a.m. on Big Ten Network and BTN.com.
O’Brien, 42, is wrapping up his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Patriots, his first NFL team after 14 seasons as a college assistant. (There’s a nice career summary here.) His first coaching gig was as an assistant at Brown, his alma mater. Of course, Brown is Joe Paterno’s alma mater, as well.
Chima Okoli didn’t see the fight. He was graduating. For the second time.
This was Saturday, when a post-practice altercation between starting quarterback Matt McGloin and receiver Curtis Drake ended with McGloin suffering a concussion and apparent seizure after his head hit the concrete floor of the Nittany Lion locker room. Even under normal circumstances, this would’ve been big news for a high-profile, bowl-bound team. But under current circumstances? The sizable media scrum around McGloin during Monday’s pre-bowl media day told the story as well as anything.
The fight was the story Monday, a figurative black eye (McGloin’s faced appeared unscathed, for what that’s worth) on a program that doesn’t need any further blemishes. All involved, including McGloin and interim coach Tom Bradley ’78, ’86g, downplayed the incident Monday, with Bradley referring to “an activity in the locker room” that differed little from countless other instances of competitive young men losing their cool. That didn’t stop reporters (more…)
The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything.
That’s been the smart observer’s mantra regarding Penn State’s search for a new head football coach, a title Tom Bradley ’78, ’86g has held on an interim basis for more than a month. Bradley coached the Nittany Lions in their final three regular season games, and is expected to coach the team at least through its appearance in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2. Beyond that? Virtually no one seems to know anything. Since late November, when the University announced the formation of a search committee to find Joe Paterno’s replacement, the rumors have been torrential—and the actual news non-existent.
Acting athletic director David Joyner ’72, ’76g heads the search committee, and he’s said little publicly about the search. The rare exceptions have been shooting down rumors of interviews or pending hires when asked about them by reporters, or the couple of video Q&As he’s done on GoPSUSports.com. The second of those was posted Thursday, and you can see it below.
The emotions of those following the search range from curious to increasingly panic stricken—one recent post on a Penn State football message board was dedicated to counting the days fans have been “held hostage” waiting for a new coach. In the video, Joyner is asked, essentially, what’s taking so long. His response? “We’re about exactly where I wanted to be at this point in time. We may be conducting our search a little different than other people; not saying they’re not, but we’re being very methodical and precise about what we’re doing and who we’re talking to.”
Joyner also says “We don’t have a lack of people to look at,” and indeed, the list of coaches who, without any confirmation, have been connected to the Penn State job is lengthy. Blue White Illustrated maintains a “hot board” (subscription required) of potential candidates, and essentially every Penn State and national college football writer has dedicated column inches to the speculation. Thursday brought what might’ve been the steadiest stream of rumors that the job had in fact been filled; the fact that the Wikipedia entry for Boise State coach Chris Petersen was briefly tweaked to claim he’d been hired by Penn State only added to the lunacy.
What seems clear is that Joyner and the rest of the committee are focused less on soothing the curiosity (or panic) of fans than they are making the right hire. When, and how, that happens remains anyone’s guess, but we’ll end with one fact we find instructive: The more informed media speculation has focused on Joyner and fellow committee member Ira Lubert ’73 as the key figures in this search. That matters (or seems to) because Joyner and Lubert—former Nittany Lion wrestling teammates—are widely credited with convincing Cael Sanderson to leave his alma mater and take over the Penn State wrestling program. Sanderson, of course, is the biggest name in collegiate wrestling, and he led the Lions to a national title last spring.
Is there a comparable hire for the Penn State football job? Probably not. But there is a right one, and in Joyner and Lubert, there’s a precedent for finding it.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Most of the news media that swarmed all over town in early November are gone—at least for now. I do see a big truck marked “Court TV In Session” parked along College Avenue on my way to work each morning, but for the most part the frenzy seems to have subsided.
(I’m sure the media will descend again as Dec. 13, the date of the preliminary hearing for Jerry Sandusky, approaches. See this story from the Centre Daily Times about the expected influx of reporters and cameras on the 13th.)
Meanwhile, at the magazine offices we’re focused pretty intently on trying to finish the January-February issue, which will be devoted almost entirely to the crisis and its fallout. And we’re also trying to keep up with online coverage of the scandal: Penn State may not be the lead story on the TV news anymore (thank goodness), but there’s still a steady stream of newspaper and magazine coverage on the Web.
I’ve already posted two previous lists of articles that I think are worth reading (here and here). In case you haven’t reached the saturation point yet, here are 10 that I’ve read more recently that I’d also recommend:
1. “My Second Mile: How I Grew Up With The Now-Doomed Organization.” Thomas L. Day ’03, who first wrote about the scandal for the Washington Post, is back with a piece at Deadspin.com about his own experience as a Second Mile kid. It was a good experience and, he says, somehow the news media doesn’t want to hear about those.
2. “Missteps at Every Turn.” In this week’s Sports Illustrated, a harsh look at Penn State’s handling of the events, especially the naming of Ken Frazier ’75 to chair the Trustees’ special investigations task force and Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g as acting athletic director.
3. “Rich in Success, Rooted in Secrecy.” This ran in the New York Times more than a week ago, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until now. It’s a profile of former Penn State President Graham Spanier and the mixed (more…)
When I remember this game, I’ll remember the silence.
I was in the press box, as usual, and so I already knew that Penn State and Nebraska players had planned to meet at midfield for a pregame prayer. Not surprising, not at all, given the trauma of the week, which I know I don’t have to recount here.
But I was unprepared for what actually happened. The sidelines emptied. Everyone converged at midfield—including several hundred former Penn State football players who had come to stand on the sideline in support. They mingled, Nebraska players gripping hands with their Penn State counterparts. They knelt.
And as Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown led them in prayer, the stadium fell silent. More than 100,000 people, and you could hear the proverbial pin drop—and not because anyone had asked them to be quiet. (more…)
Tom Bradley ’78 is known among reporters and Penn State fans as a reliably jovial presence. He laughed just once on Thursday during the press conference to introduce him as Penn State’s interim head football coach. It was a short, ironic laugh, referencing how little there was to laugh about.
On Thursday morning, Bradley took a seat at the podium in a packed and sober Beaver Stadium press room. He was preceded by acting athletic director Mark Sherburne, whose introduction was mindful of the week’s events. “Families who entrust us with their children and their Penn State experience demand us to be stewards, role models, leaders and solid decision makers,” Sherburne said. “Tom fits that mold and will take that responsibility to heart.”
It’s well known that Bradley, the Nittany Lions’ longtime defensive coordinator and one of the most respected assistant coaches in the nation, (more…)
We’re back on campus after the University’s winter break, and there’s plenty to talk about. Naturally, football is at or near the top of a lot of people’s lists.
A loss in a winnable bowl game brought a disappointing end to an up-and-down Penn State season. Now’s when things get interesting. News and rumors have trickled out since the game, the most notable being reports that freshman quarterback Rob Bolden intends to transfer. Bolden was named the Nittany Lions’ starter in preseason but was ultimately replaced by sophomore Matt McGloin.
There’s also buzz that Bolden may not be the only prominent member of the Penn State program to leave in the coming weeks. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley ’78 was linked with the open head coaching jobs at Pitt and Temple, and is reportedly a candidate for the re-opened Pitt job and the head spot at UConn. Joe Paterno has even campaigned for Bradley’s candidacy — not that the coach wants to lose one of his top assistants. Speculation is that if Bradley leaves, he might take a couple of his fellow assistants with him, a migration that could impact Paterno’s future as well. For now, though, it’s just that — speculation. Expect much more of it, and maybe even some actual news, in the coming days and weeks.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
We’re working on wrapping up our March/April issue, included in which is a profile of Matt Marek ’98, the Red Cross’ man on the ground in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Marek has worked in Haiti for years, was there when the earthquake struck, and will likely be there for the next few years (at least) leading the Red Cross’ recovery and rebuilding efforts. I’ve had a chance to talk to some of his family and friends, and can tell you that Marek seems every bit the impressive guy you’d expect.
I’m also following the efforts of Margaret Trost ’84, whose work feeding some of Haiti’s poorest kids is more important than ever, and of the team of doctors and nurses from the Hershey Medical Center who have been treating quake victims over the past few weeks. But a name I didn’t expect to hear was that of Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley ’78. Last weekend—in the midst of the final recruiting week of the spring, when he certainly had his hands full at work—Bradley joined his friend Cliff Benson ’71 on a plane that left Pittsburgh loaded with 30,000 pounds of medical supplies. As Bradley told the Allentown Morning-Call, he went along to help load and unload the supplies, and the roundtrip took less than a day. “Eighteen hours,” Bradley said. “I think everybody can find that kind of time.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor