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Nitt Picks Has A Sore Throat Today

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Joe Paterno's contract situation is quickly becoming like the 90 year old senile aunt living in the basement. Everybody knows she's there but nobody wants to talk about her. Well put another setting at the table because David Jones is bringing old aunt Ethel to dinner tonight.

Jones is suggesting a clash of epic proportions is about to take place in the back rooms of Old Main and Lasch Building. And things may get ugly.

I've always been under the impression until recently that certain of Penn State's trustee emeriti -- such as, say, Paterno's good friend and business partner, Bill Schreyer -- could exert significant force upon Spanier to make certain the school's football coach gets pretty much what he wants. Like maybe a couple of more years on his contract.

I don't think that's the case anymore.

A canvassing of a few of the school's 30-some trustees and other significant influence peddlers in the State hierarchy indicates Spanier finally has enough power to make this Paterno's last season in Happy Valley should he so choose, and whether the coach likes it or not.

Contrary to recent rumors that have been raging around the state and beyond, Spanier and Paterno have not yet met to talk about the future and, no, Joe did not up and quit when he was supposedly informed by Spanier that there would be no extension after 2008. None of that has happened.

A knowledgeable school source said the two were scheduled to meet shortly after the Alamo Bowl. But that was cancelled when Paterno came down with a debilitating two-week bout with the flu that effectively flattened him for much of the home stretch to Signing Day.

Moreover, there were legitimate fears that, should Paterno at 81 hit the recruiting trail while already sick -- as he might have done 15 or 20 years ago -- that fatal pneumonia could follow.

So the meeting was rebooked for sometime after Signing Day, which was last Wednesday. Spanier left on a trip to California last week. He said via e-mail that he won't be back until Wednesday, is quite busy here for two days, then is back on the road Friday. I asked if he'd had a chance to meet about the coach's future. His e-mail response:

"All I can say is that Tim Curley, Joe Paterno, and I plan to get together before long but we have not been able to do so yet due to our collective scheduling commitments. [We have seen each other at university events, of course, such as the Hall of Fame induction and associated events.]"

As for whether Paterno could possibly be back beyond 2008 or whether his successor would necessarily be chosen from the current staff, Spanier refused comment.

Mediocre success on the field and downright embarrassing behavior off of it have led to this. Joe's contract will run out after the 2008 season, and it does not appear that he is coming back. How do you ask a man who has won 372 games and two national championships it's time to go? How do you tell a man who has devoted over 50 years of his life and $5 million of his own money to your school it's time to hit the road? It seems that's what Graham Spanier is tasked with doing, and it looks like the Board of Trustees is looking the other way and washing their hands of the whole thing.

Here is an interesting tidbit from the article.

Regardless, 2009 recruits need to know who the coach will be when their careers begin and end.

According to a source close to Jeannette High's Terrelle Pryor, when the blue-chip quarterback asked that question in their recent face-to-face meeting, Paterno responded that his successor would certainly be someone on the current staff.

Really? News to Spanier. He wouldn't make that commitment when I asked him:

His e-mail response to my question about that issue was only: "I would not wish to speculate."

So Joe is telling recruits the next head coach is on the current staff. This isn't the first time I've heard a recruit mention this kind of statement. I believe Paterno is out there telling kids the next head coach is on the current staff. If that's the case, why is this information being held from the public? Or is this just Paterno thinking his last task as head football coach before cleaning out his desk will be to appoint his own successor? Clearly Curley and Spanier cannot be happy if they are being left out of the hiring process. It's going to be interesting to watch what unfolds in the coming weeks.

Terrelle Pryor Should Probably Read This

In the next few weeks Terrelle Pryor will pick a school. Beano Cook will predict he'll win the Heisman the year after Jimmy Clausen graduates with three of them. Fans in either Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania will rejoice while the other two curse under their breath and say they didn't want him anyway because he wasn't smart, didn't have any class, was too indecisive, or whatever.

The conventional wisdom for the past several months was that Pryor was Ohio State's to lose. If that is indeed the case, then I would suggest he read this.

IN SIX academic quarters at Ohio State, Maldonado had earned a decent number of credits (his 57 were the equivalent of about 40 at a semester school). He compiled a 2.3 GPA and had never lost his eligibility. But his coursework included four credits for playing football, three for Tressel's Coaching Football class, 10 for remedial reading, 10 for remedial math and three for Issues Affecting Student Athletes. Six other credits wouldn't transfer because he earned D's in two classes. Maldonado couldn't understand how he had earned only 17 transferable credits in two years. Even today the number pinballs around his head. "What kind of degree can you get from Ohio State if none of your classes count at other colleges?" he asks.

Not much of one, according to The Drake Group, an NCAA watchdog. Members of the organization refer to schools like Ohio State as "football factories" that offer soft courses designed to keep players on the field. "The purpose isn't to educate and graduate," says Drake Group associate director David Ridpath. "They're eligibility mills."


(Friedgen) had seen his share of transfers over the years, but none with such a barren transcript. "It wasn't his fault," the coach says. "They had him in a bunch of classes that he shouldn't have been in."

Maldonado says the curriculum was not his idea. "Over there, they just put you in classes," he says. "I let them take care of my schedule. I wish I wouldn't have."


Did You Even Interview The Guy?

When Indiana hired head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson from Oklahoma they knew he came with some baggage. He got caught making 577 impermissible calls to recruits landing himself on probation. Indiana hired him away from Oklahoma and placed him on probation for his first year, but they announced back in October that he had made even more impermissible calls during that time.

Well, today Sampson finds himself in more hot water.

Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff violated telephone recruiting restrictions imposed because of his previous violations at Oklahoma, then lied about it to the school and NCAA investigators, according to an NCAA report released Wednesday.

The NCAA listed five major violations against Sampson, saying he gave "false or misleading information" to investigators.

Sampson "failed to deport himself ... with the generally recognized high standard of honesty" and "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the men's basketball program," according to the report.

This is like hiring a bank robber to guard the royal jewels. How dumb can the head coach of a Div I basketball program be? He got caught making illegal phone calls and got put on probation. He got caught making more illegal phone calls while he was on probation. Now he's been caught a third time, and caught lying about it at that. Brilliant.