What will happen to the Penn State defense now that some of its prominent members are in deep shit? I don’t know. No one else does, either. Maybe Joe knows, but he isn’t talking—yet. He needs to say something soon and it needs to be strong.
Six players were arrested, including two starters, Anthony Scirrotto and Justin King. They were charged with various and sundry felonies and misdemeanors relating to the April 1 party invasion they allegedly conducted. (Yeah, they’re innocent until proven guilty, so I say “allegedly,” but let’s be realistic about this.)
The other players were Christopher Baker, Jerome Hayes, Lydell Sargeant, and Tyrell Sales.
As you know by now, the incident arose out of someone dissing Anthony Scirrotto and his girlfriend. (Here we go with the “apparently” and “allegedly” journalistic crapola again.) Apparently, Scirrotto called in the cavalry, who then allegedly charged into the apartment in question and kicked the shit out of a bunch of people, and a computer, too.
The batteries were allegedly, apparently, possibly conducted with fists, boots, and beer bottles. This was a street brawl moved inside. (The computer battery involved fists and beer.)
The big question is: What the hell will we be doing for defense? Defense on the football field, I mean, not in the courtroom. What will Paterno do? Remember that he backed Rashard Casey all the way when RC was in trouble in New Jersey. However, the Casey incident was one emotional guy having a problem in a bar; whereas this ruckus was a premeditated, organized reprisal attack. Allegedly. Remember that Joe set Dan Connor down for three games for merely making prank phone calls, albeit to an old coach. This Turkey thinks that we’ll see at least some of these guys kicked off the team. And there goes the defense.
Scirrotto, who allegedly precipitated the attack, led the Big Ten in interceptions last season. He was showing great promise at safety. Justin King was settling into his starting cornerback role. At the other corner, Sargeant and A. J. Wallace are vying for the position. With Paul Posluszny and Tim Shaw gone, Sales should be stepping up to make a contribution at linebacker.
Now, their future is uncertain, as is the future of the team.
Here’s the rundown on who was charged with what (felonies in bold):
Scirotto: Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Solicitation, Simple Assault
Baker: Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Simple Assault, Criminal Mischief
King: Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, Harassment
Hayes: Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, Harassment
Sales: Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, Harassment
Sargeant: Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, Harassment
Tyrell Sales was a madman—he even hit Scirrotto (allegedly) as Hayes was reportedly trying to get Scirrotto out of the apartment. From the complaint: “During the incident, Hayes stated [that] he was trying to get his friends out of the apartment. When Hayes was trying to get Scirrotto out of the apartment, Sales apparently thought Scirrotto was one of the guests/residents and tried to attack him. Hayes told Sales to calm down.” So add friendly fire to the list of charges against Sales.
And what of the computer? “Witness Tom Walsh reported that he was present during the incident in [the] apartment. Walsh reported that he observed a man punch a laptop computer and spill a beer on top of it. Walsh said that he only saw this man from behind at that point but he felt that the man may have been Christopher Baker. McGarrity reported that his computer was damaged during the incident and that it is no longer operating.”
In other words, a typical Saturday night in State College. All except for one thing. This one involved the football team—the great experiment. The conduct of this team has been in a steady decline for many years now. We used to pride ourselves on the cleanliness of our program, but no longer. We seem to be running a veritable Cincinnati Bengals organization, in which every time one turns around someone is being arrested for something or other. Others find solace in the fact that Penn State is not alone in the increase of serious criminal incidents among its athletes, but that is no comfort to me. We used to scorn Miami and Florida State for their players’ transgressions but we’re now in a glass house and we can no longer throw stones. This just plain sucks.
This shit has got to stop. If kicking these guys off the team is what it takes to send the signal to their teammates and future Nittany Lions, it should be done. To hell with the season. If we have to employ hired scofflaw thugs to be competitive, then to hell with college football.
Paterno needs to get on top of this situation post haste and at least issue a statement that he’ll deal with players harshly if they commit crimes. He needs to assure us that the University is taking the matter seriously. He needs to tell us that if these guys are convicted of any of the crimes they’re charged with, they’re off the team; moreover, in the meanwhile, they’re suspended from competitive play pending adjudication of the matters. Perhaps he can let them continue to practice with the team. Perhaps not. Whatever Paterno decides should be strong, decisive, and sooner rather than later.