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Craig James Holds a Grudge

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Craig James
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I've never liked Craig James. I always thought his analysis was weak and I wrote him off as another talking head paid to stir up controversy. But it always seemed like he never had anything nice to say about Penn State. During ABC's coverage of the Purdue game James flat out said something like, "I'm not a big fan of Penn State." Ok. Fine. I brushed it off.

On Saturday, James crossed the line at halftime of the Wisconsin game. In commenting on Brett Bielema's Rule 3-2-5e stunt right before halftime James had the following to say.

JoePa goes in at halftime, and I mean the camera crew is following, and JoePa's Geritol that he had too much of this morning kicks in. Must have, must have had some bad beans in his soup last night. Man, JoePa's fired up ready to get after him. Way to go, coach Bielema, give it to the old fart.

The Penn State message boards went into a frothing rage. Internet email campaigns were organized. It worked. Later in the evening ABC forced James to issue an apology.

Earlier today, during our halftime show, I was trying to show compliments and admiration for coach Paterno and his intensity. I inadvertently used an expression about coach Paterno that I apologize for. Hey, man, I've supported coach Paterno for years, and I'm going to continue to be a big fan of his. The guy's been great for all these years, and I certainly hope his leg's OK.

Supported Paterno for years, huh? This is a guy who was highly critical of Penn State in the early part of the decade. When asked if he wanted to apologize for some harsh remarks he made toward Paterno at the time he responded, "I don't think anyone owes him an apology, because they stunk."

Is this a matter of sensational journalism at its best? Or is there something deeper behind this? There has been a hint in local Pennsylvania newspapers and internet message boards that perhaps James holds a personal grudge against Penn State and Joe Paterno.

In 1982, James was a running back at SMU (Southern Methodist). Teamed up with Eric Dickerson as the famed "Pony Express", SMU had a great season and beat Dan Marino and Pitt in the Cotton bowl to finish 11-0-1. They were the nation's only unbeaten team. But Penn State, who earlier in the year lost to Alabama, beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Penn State was awarded the MNC by the voters and SMU was denied.

James is still bitter over this. He still resents Paterno and Penn State for what happened almost 25 years ago. It's a shame he still holds this personal grudge. It's an even bigger shame he has the opportunity to spew his garbage opinions on national television.