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Sean McDonough's Penn State musings are misguided

McDonough's words in support off Penn State interim Coach Tom Bradley during broadcast of Penn State-Wisconsin game veer off the tracks. Somebody at ESPN should have waved him off the subject.

November 26, 2011|By Mike Hiserman
  • Penn State Coach Tom Bradley watches as the Nittany Lions get beat, 45-7, by Wisconsin on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Penn State Coach Tom Bradley watches as the Nittany Lions get beat, 45-7,… (Jeff Hanisch / US Presswire )

Sometimes announcers need to be saved from themselves, so you have to wonder why ESPN producers at the Penn State-Wisconsin game Saturday weren't whispering — or screaming — in Sean McDonough's ear.

With less than five minutes to play and the Badgers routing the Nittany Lions, 45-7, McDonough — and we're giving him the benefit of the doubt here — sought to fill air time. Unfortunately, he did it by turning Penn State apologist in trying to make a case for interim Coach Tom Bradley taking over the program on a permanent basis.

McDonough started by noting that new university President Rodney Erickson had "worked alongside" Graham Spanier, the president the school purged when it also fired iconic football coach Joe Paterno.

McDonough continued: "So if the argument against Tom Bradley is … he was there, he must have known. Why doesn't the same apply to Rod Erickson? Or why doesn't it apply to [acting Athletic Director] Dave Joyner? He's been a trustee for more than a decade.

"It's a small town. People talk. Why didn't he know? If we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt and not holding that against him, why would it be different from Tom Bradley?"

McDonough went on, but for these purposes we'll stop him there and answer his question.

Why would it be different for Tom Bradley? Because neither Erickson nor Joyner were working at Penn State's football facility, side by side, every day of the week for years, with a person who has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing children — at least one of the alleged acts taking place in a shower not far from the coaches' offices.

Bradley and other members of the Penn State staff have said they knew nothing about former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's alleged unlawful acts, but that's not the point. The point is that Penn State, in order to be taken seriously, needs to clean house. Before Sandusky retired and Bradley replaced him as coordinator, Bradley was a defensive assistant working under his direction.

Later, McDonough added: "I wonder if people will be concerned about what the investigation might reveal about who else in the football program might have known about this, and if that's a factor."

Gee, ya think?

Golden boy

Miami made a couple of predictable moves this week.

On Friday, about 12 minutes into the Hurricanes' final game of the season, a 24-17 loss to Boston College, the school announced it had awarded first-year head coach Al Golden with a four-year contract extension.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it will keep Golden at Coral Gables through the 2019 season.

The timing was odd and the move itself was a bit of a head-scratcher considering Golden's team was 6-6 this season. But it was also not a tremendous surprise because Miami clearly feared that Penn State or another prominent program might come after its coach unless it sweetened the pot.

No one could blame Golden if he was looking elsewhere after only one season at The U. Given the bomb the NCAA dropped on USC for far less, Miami's sanctions could be nuclear. Former booster Nevin Shapiro allegedly bestowed 72 Hurricanes players and recruits with rule-breaking extra benefits from 2002 to 2010.

Which takes us to Miami's first predictable — and ridiculous — piece of strategy: recently announcing it was keeping its football program out of a bowl game this season.

School officials no doubt were hoping the NCAA Committee on Infractions would view that as an act of contrition, but it wasn't much of a sacrifice. The only bowls that might have taken the Hurricanes are low-level ones that probably couldn't offer a guarantee large enough to cover expenses.

Zip it

Somebody at Akron needs to cut the cord to Notre Dame. The Zips on Saturday fired coach Rob Ianello after two seasons that produced a 2-22 record. Ianello, a former Notre Dame assistant, went 1-15 in Mid-American Conference games.

That brings to mind another failed Notre Dame-to-Akron experiment: Years ago, the Zips hired Gerry Faust after he was fired as head coach by Notre Dame. Faust went 43-53-3 at Akron and was demoted to school fund-raiser after going 1-10 in 1994.

Quick kicks

North Carolina State's 56-41 win over Maryland marked the second-biggest comeback in Atlantic Coast Conference football history. The Wolfpack trailed, 41-14, with 5 minutes 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter, then scored on its next five possessions and tacked on a 59-yard return of an interception.... Kentucky ended a 26-game losing streak against Tennessee. It was the longest active streak among major-college opponents.... Houston, which averages a nation-high 53 points per game, hasn't given up more than seven points in a fourth quarter this season.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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