Penn State football players say they "were protecting an image" under head coach Joe Paterno in the latter stages of his career and convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky was an "old guy who worked out here once in a while" in an upcoming book entitled Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football.
The book, written by author John U. Bacon, details four Big Ten football programs during the 2012 season, and the portion dedicated to Penn State reveals that Sandusky had left the program when players were in elementary school, but retained access to university property, and that Paterno served more as a figurehead for much of the last 15 years of his coaching career.
Here is an excerpt taken from the book that examines Paterno's relationship to his team in the recent years leading up to the scandal:
Sometime after Penn State's undefeated 1994 season, Paterno's passion for coaching began to wane. In 2006, after a Wisconsin player ran into him on the sidelines and injured his leg just below the knee, he hardly coached at all, watching games from the press box without a headset. After he recovered, he returned to the sidelines, but he still didn't wear a headset or carry a clipboard, and he rarely attended team meetings. Privately, the staff joked that the less the 84-year-old Paterno got involved, the better things usually went. When Paterno did weigh in, he often confused the situation, got players' names wrong or just yelled at them by their numbers.
Still, his assistants clung to certain symbols of the Paterno Way. "Shave your face, cut your hair," Mauti said, recalling the mantra. "If we weren't shaved for a practice, we would have to work out on Saturdays in the off-season. It got almost to the point where that's all that mattered."
The book is set to hit shelves Sept. 3.
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