By Alan Truex
Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, is a hard-edged look at Penn State during and after the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. It depicts Joe Paterno doddering in his 80s, becoming ever more detached from his football program, disconnected, literally, no headphones on, as the game rages around him and Sandusky lurks in the shadows and the showers.
It’s easy to believe JoPa knew little about the pedophilia of his former defensive coordinator.
The book, due out next week, is written by John U. Bacon and is published by Simon & Schuster. It poignantly portrays the Sandusky scandal from the viewpoint of the players, watching their world collapse around them, struggling over whether to go or stay, as the NCAA offers an immediate transfer to any other school that wants them. A lot of schools want them desperately.
The players’ attitude toward Sandusky is bluntly enunciated by senior linebacker and captain Michael Mauti: “They used to hang people at the Centre County Courthouse. And frankly, I would have been OK with that. Hell, give us the rope and we’ll do it for you.”
As much as it plausibly could, the story had a sort of happy ending, as Coach Bill O’Brien rallied the shattered team to an 8-4 record in 2012. “You are free to go anywhere you want, with no penalties,” O’Brien addressed the team. “However, if you stay, I promise you, you will never forget it.”