Great story in the Wall Street Journal, which I hope you all can read without having a subscription. I never know how long and how much of articles they leave open to public viewing there. This is an excerpt from a forthcoming John U. Bacon book with a lot of nitty-gritty details about life in the B1G. When last I looked, it was a top trending story in the WSJ.
To write his book “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football,” author John U. Bacon embedded himself with four Big Ten programs—Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Northwestern—in search of the sport’s old ideals as it is roiled by money, greed and scandal. In this excerpt, he offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Penn State’s team reacted to the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal last year.
Here is an excerpt from his excerpt, which will definitely suck you in. In response to the NCAA edict that allowed players to hop off Penn State for other schools, O’Brien had made a decision to impose a deadline of August 1, by which time players had to either agree to stay or go. But the two Mikes, Mauti and Zordich, opposed that plan.
“I’m thinking, Aug. 1?” Zordich said. “That’s one week. This dude’s got (guts).”
Zordich soon proved he had some guts, too. After initially agreeing, he said: “I don’t think that’s a good idea. The players here don’t know you well enough yet.”
As soon as Zordich said it, Mauti decided his teammate was right, and they explained why. They believed the more players got to know O’Brien and his program—which they viewed as a long-overdue step toward the future—the more likely they would stay.
And second, if O’Brien threatened them with a deadline, it might incite a rush to the doors. “You say, ‘Now or never,’” Zordich said, “you’re going to lose a lot of guys. They’ll get scared.”
“And make an irrational decision,” Mauti added. “If we’ve got a deadline, word’s going to get out to (opposing) coaches, and (players’) phones are going to blow up all over again the night before the deadline.”
At that moment, Zordich and Mauti might have been the only college football players in the country with the temerity to question the decision of their head coach. And O’Brien might have been the only college-football coach willing to listen.
After scanning their faces one more time, O’Brien started nodding. “OK,” he finally said. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
You’ve got to read this! Here’s the link.