I’ve read the comments on the Freeh report by Spanier’s attorneys and this Turkey is here with his ever ready opinions. So, without further ado, let’s go opining.
I don’t see a lot of particularly startling revelations. The report merely captured what we’ve been seeing in other analyses and used some strong language to rebut specific findings and conclusions.
We don’t yet know what Spanier will say; that will come out later today. It’s pretty predictable, though, now that we know what his mouthpieces have written and what he said in the interview with The New Yorker. He’ll say that the 1998 investigation was dismissed by authorities, and later, in 2001, no one mentioned anything sexual. So, barring any off the wall happenings during the ABC interview — which would have leaked out by now — we’re going to hear a reiteration of the same old mantra from the ex-president.
Where does that leave us?
I have to say that if a majority of the board of trustees wanted to put this behind us last week, they’re not going to be swayed by a couple of Philadelphia lawyers and Spanier, whom they probably hoped would just fade away with his Washington consulting job for Homeland Security. (I’d still like to know who arranged that gig for GS — I think it would fill in some blanks.)
The BoT will just stick to its oft stated position of wanting to put the whole thing in the past and keep their Peetzian “laser focus” on the future. They have the votes to do that even in the face of withering excoriation and regardless of what dissenters such as trustees Lubrano and Clemens have to say. After all, the University accepted the Freeh report without question.
Well, how about the NCAA and its sanctions?
Nah, forget it. Emmert has a laser of its own, and it is aimed away from Penn State now. I believe that the NCAA position will continue to be that although the Freeh report contains factual inaccuracies and faulty conclusions, there is nevertheless sufficient “evidence” to prove the basic allegation of lack of institutional oversight. If the pressure on the NCAA is amped up, then Emmert will fall back on the trump card: the children. With the victim card up its sleeve, the NCAA won’t be losing any sleep over this.
What about the vacation of 111 wins?
This Turkey thinks the NCAA can use that as another bargaining chip but only in the direst of circumstances, if the organization is backed up against the wall by negative sentiment from its members and the public. Nevertheless, this was a purely vindictive penalty that is now naked and exposed for what it is. The punishment makes no sense at all given that the 1998 incident was dismissed by authorities. If the NCAA wants to launch a pre-emptive strike, this would be the nuke to hurl. Giving Paterno and his players back their victories would assuage the bitterness of lots of people — for a while.
What about Spanier himself? What does this do for him?
It covers his ass. He might want to work again for some university, but at the very least he wants to avoid prosecution and clear his name.
That having been said, I think this could go even farther than a mere ass shroud. Spanier’s formal rebuttal of the Freeh report appears to this Turkey to be laying the groundwork for a dubious dismissal and defamation suit against Penn State and possibly Freeh, as will his professing utter and complete innocence to a national audience on ABC tonight. In Penn State’s own “Night of the Long Knives,” Spanier and Paterno were summarily relieved of their duties based on a document with more holes in it than all the cheese in Switzerland. Just mull that one over for a little bit.
Just my opinions, folks. I’m sure you have some yourselves. Please let us hear them!
Things that make you go hmmmh!
Well I’ve got to give Spanier credit-he’s not taking this lying down and at least he’s fighting back.
From what’s in the summary report issued by his attorneys, there was nothing that anyone with a clear eye who read the Freeh report had not already questioned, except now it’s in black and white. Unless Freeh comes back with counterpoints to Spanier’s assertions some of this may stick to the wall and start to raise some questions.
So who does what now?
The BoT will stay locked in their Upper Room, afraid to answer the door in their fear that it’s the Romans coming to crucify them. In reality what can they do at this point? Disavow the contents of the whole report and say it was not as thorough and complete ($6.5 million dollars worth) as they originally said it was (Peetz & Frazier). They’ve let too much time pass since it was released without making a statement, so if they do anything now it makes them look even more incompetent than they already have shown they are.
Emmert? Hah! As you said, he’s moved on. He did his duty at the beck and call of the media and will now focus on doing nothing at UNC, Miami, Oregon, Montana and the latest incident at Mankato State University (head football coach arrested for possession of child porn). Nothing will happen here unless this somehow gets in the courts and the Freeh report is shown to be non-admissable for any punitive actions by any parties (if that’s even possible). Again he can’t go back and say “Well I acted in haste and we’re really only going to vacate wins starting in 2001.”
No, I think today is the first brick in the foundation (or through the window).
Spanier is showing there is something rotten in Denmark and I believe that the Curley/Schultz trials will provide further information into email context and who said what to whom when (although I have heard that Curley is pretty sick with his LC-here’s hoping he makes it to the trial and we don’t end up with another funeral to go to before January). And if their cases are dismissed or they are found not guilty (the better outcome), then look out. Posnanski’s book, while not producing any new evidence of Paterno’s level of complicity, does show some additional depth of the complexity and morality of him as an individual and does paint a picture that his covering-up this whole incident to protect the football program and his legacy is bordering on preposterous.
So in the near term nothing is going to change.
I keep going back to a few things.
1. Why has no one bothered to talk to Dranov? Seems his impressions of what he was told by McQueary on that infamous night in November and why he recommended the course of action he did would shed a whole spotlight on this theory that no one did more than they did at PS because it was not perceived to be significant from an actual sex act standpoint by any of the parties.
2. Why has no one bothered to question Raykovich from the 2nd Mile? It would appear that he was told of the 2001 incident by Curley (Voldemort would no longer be able to bring boys on to the PS campus) yet he was allowed to continue having contact with boys in a 2nd Mile capacity.
3. Was Freeh given a hint as to where his conclusions should point? I can’t believe the BoT was that daft to to tell him they wanted this pinned on Spanier and the other three. Or was Freeh just so appalled after reading the GJ presentment that he went off on his own and decided he would be the avenging angel and pin this on the four principals because that was the easy way out. It also allowed him to reach some conclusion (even though it is extremely suspect based on the evidence he produced) without having to dig in to any outside parties.
So a lot of words without any compelling conclusions.
I am beginning to think about swallowing that conspiracy pill though. It may not provide direct answers, but it sure as hell would help me to understand on a 25,000 foot level how this got to the point it’s at!
Yowzaa! I just read the full New Yorker transcript of the Spanier interview and all I can say is why didn’t this guy say something sooner.
From what he says, he sure puts a different light on 95% of what’s been reported.
I especially found his answers to the Paterno questions extremely informative and totally in contradiction to the media narratives.
And if Curly and Spanier are found not guilty? Well I don’t even want to think of the direction this thing will turn.
The Nittany Turkey says
I think he didn’t say something sooner because he needed time for him and his lawyers to develop a safe set of responses to anticipated questions. He had written a letter to the BoT earlier, as you might recall.
One thing his open conversation with the New Yorker does is reveal the extent to which the national media are willing to distort facts to sell a box of soap, or just as likely, to earn a feather in their cap for salary extortion.
Spanier has asserted that he wants his name cleared at some point in the future. I don’t think that’s likely to happen by him merely talking to ABC and the New Yorker. Neither do I think it will happen by spontaneous action of the BoT, as long as the prevailing majority philosophy of “moving on and maintaining a laser focus on the future” exists. No way is this board about to take any of the blame for this mess on its oft shrugged shoulders. Something revolutionary will be required to shake the board up. Yeah, if Curley and Schultz are found not guilty, that will shatter some Waterford pitchers. Failing that, if Spanier has the goods he thinks he has, or that his lawyers think they have, he should sue Penn State.
Interesting that Spanier remains a faculty member. His contract had a “terminate without cause” clause as far as the president position was concerned, but he’s a tenured faculty member so it will require provable misconduct to dump him.
In any event, with PS4RS rabble rousing, this weekend’s Board Retreat should be an interesting spectacle indeed. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a circus.
After reading the NewYorker report you actually believe anything that comes out of spanier’s mouth? He talks about how Joe was in charge, only to back track and say, but I was in charge of PSU. He talks several times about how PSU was one big family, everyone was intertwined, professionally and personally, so how well did you know Sandusky? Only talked to him once in my life!!! I also love the way he swears the retirement conversation in 2004 never went down the way the “media” portrays it, apparently he didnt get an early copy of “Paterno” where Joe, who Spanier himself has the greatest memory of anyone he has ever met, describes in detail how he rebuked the retirement plan. How about his explanation of using the word “Vulnerable” in the email about not reporting Sandusky in 2001 “it was a reaction to the possibility that we didn’t want this to happen” what does that even mean??? He tells us how he stood behind Shultz and Curley cause he had worked with them so long he new they were telling the truth but asks us not to think he or Joe would have felt the same way about Sandusky. His argument is exactly what I would expect a guilty person to say. This guy is as shady as the day is long. Reminds me so much of the other sweater vest wearing moralist over in Columbus! Both fail to practice what they have preached.
Water boarding all parties may be the only way to get to the truth!
Line them all up; the Governor, BoT members, the PA AG, DPW, Harmon, 2nd Mile President and their legal counsel, Big Red, Baldwin, Dranov, and Moe, Larry and Curly.
The only one exempted would be Paterno as we all know dead men tell no tales.
I live in Florida so I don’t hear much about how the voters of Pennsilvania feel about the Governors involvement. It certainly looks from a distance like he may have more explaining to do than anyone. Is there an out cry for answers from him? Is there any chance he gets re-elected after this???
The Nittany Turkey says
Oh, yeah. There’s an outcry. Corbett has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do, like about the $600,000+ campaign contribution he got from The Second Mile. There’s lots of intertwining there between Corbett and sundry other major figures in the scandal, from the time he was attorney general.
I’m in the Orlando area, too.
I thought the biggest pile of crap was Spanier’s selective amnesia juxtaposed with uncanny recollections. For example, two emails in 1998, he didn’t recall what they said, he was just copied on them, but he remembered that they were five weeks apart.
Lots of things ring untrue about his interview.
The Nittany Turkey says
I heard about that Mankato State thing. Emmert must be shitting bricks right now wondering what the hell he’ll do with all the sanctionable entities out there. The NCAA giveth and the NCAA taketh away.
It was interesting in reading Paterno’s book about how pissed off he would get at the NCAA rules way back when he started coaching PSU. For example, that a 1.6 GPA was all that was required for academic eligibility had flames coming out of his nostrils.
Spanier is a smooth, cagey guy. I don’t think he said anything I didn’t expect him to say, except perhaps for the revelation (in the New Yorker interview) about the way the 2004 Paterno so-called firing went down. If what he says is true, then the media made a huge mountain out of that molehill, and I would say that 99% of us believed what we heard and read. That says mountains about the media’s agenda.
Spanier seems to have a curiously selective capability for memory loss. Some of his “I can’t recall” responses were very smooth, but a paragraph or two later he would recall something else in great detail. I’m not saying he’s totally full of shit, but I’m sure his lawyers told him what he could say and what he couldn’t. And maybe what he shouldn’t, if he wanted to avoid prosecution and keep his ass covered.
As Posnanski writes, early on in his tenure Joe courted the press and made special accommodations for them, but in the final 15 years of his career it somehow turned into a bitter cold war. He left this planet with that cold war still raging behind him, and with him gone, they jumped on his case with wild abandon.
The questions you brought up, except #3, are the open questions in most of our minds. I’ll add one more. Do we just spin the wheel and pick a version of McQueary’s story to believe?
As for #3, you and I have both done a considerable amount of consulting work, and have managed consulting jobs. You know that sometimes it’s a straight fact-finding and recommendation job and other times it is a hidden agenda under the guise of a straight-on project (usually to fire some bigshot or lop off a whole department). We used to call that “Solving for x” — it was all there for us, but we just had to interpret the subtle clues. From then on, the job was on autopilot. The “outside experts” became hired guns.
Well, who’s to say that Freeh wasn’t given that sort of assignment? Spanier’s lawyers said that Freeh was conducting the investigation as if he was a prosecutor. Elsewhere, they mentioned questioning that sounded as harsh as cross-examining hostile witnesses (e.g., starting with something like “You know Graham Spanier, do you not?”)
So, yeah, the Freeh report is obviously tainted, and beyond that lies the possibility that the BoT engaged a “hired gun” to nail the four scapegoats. That the conclusion was arrived at in advance and supported by the subsequent sham of an investigation wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
You and I better leave a letter with our respective attorneys, just in case the conspirators — including Corbett — decide to make us disappear like Ray Gricar.
The NCAA almost seems trivial now, doesn’t it? We’ll see how far this goes. And speaking of Cynthia Baldwin, why the hell is she so mum? Last I heard, she was lawyered up and not talking.