Sources close to the team report to FightOnState.com that during a squad meeting Tuesday, head coach Joe Paterno announced defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor had been dismissed earlier in the day. According to the sources, Paterno said the dismissals were permanent.
"Joe said he was fed up with both players," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A third source said the dismissals were the result of a recent off-field incident, but did not have further details.
Local law enforcement officials report that neither player has been charged with a crime in the past 10 days. Penn State football spokesman Guido D'Elia was in Pittsburgh on business Tuesday and could neither confirm nor deny the dismissals.
Even if the accounts of another off-field incident are true, without any sort of formal charges or academic issues, it's going to be very difficult for the football program to spin this as anything less than a knee-jerk reaction to the Outside The Lines story. It looks really bad, even when you consider that because practice starts next week, the time to dismiss players from the team is right now.
And yes, speaking of that story, David Jones has another excellent column on the topic, including a quick conversation with Centre County District Attorney, Michael Madeira, and the relatively unspoken controversy about what ESPN didn't broadcast during the OTL segment:
In Sunday's column, Brian Gelzheiser was referenced. In 1991, he was tossed off the team and out of school for a year for attempting to use the lost credit card of another student, a charge for which he maintains innocence even today.
Gelzheiser told me he spoke to someone at ESPN. I assumed it was reporter Steve Delsohn. In fact, Delsohn e-mailed me on Sunday night that it was a producer helping to report the "OTL" story. In any event, Gelzheiser said he was annoyed by the producer's perception that recent teams are full of "bad kids" while mentioning the broadly held assumption that PSU players in Gelzheiser's day and prior rarely got in trouble.
Later on, I asked Gelzheiser, who is white, if he thought there is subtle racism present in this dichotomy and perhaps subconsciously in the "OTL" story. "Oh, there is," he answered.
I'd have to agree to at least some extent. (Incidentally, it's an issue ESPN's increasingly irrelevant carnival barker, Stephen A. Smith, could have raised after one of Sunday's "OTL" telecasts rather than the trite diatribe he loosed on Joe Paterno and what he repeatedly called "The University of Penn State.")
In our Sunday column, Gelzheiser and Nittany Lions predecessors Keith Dorney, Matt Millen, Dave Opfar and Jim Litterelle -- all white -- recalled the many fights and drunken escapades they took part in decades past. All asserted they were far from "choirboys."
They also didn't show any of the interview with PSU captain, A.Q. Shipley. A lot of people both here at BSD and elsewhere were nipping around the same issue. Not that anyone is proud of either incident, but why give the kids at the Meridian apartment such expansive airtime, allowing them to comically reenact the melee (in front of a "Snakes On A Plane" poster, no less) but barely mention the incident at the HUB, which involved a victim from a black fraternity?
Still, that's just a grating footnote to the ordeal. Hopefully, we can begin to focus on how Penn State will replace two defensive tackles, and not why they have to replace two defensive tackles. But given recent history, we won't hold our breath.