Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Confusion reigns as Spanier cancels Paterno's press conference (posted 11.8.11)

Confusion reigns in Unhappy Valley
PSU president Graham Spanier cancels Joe Paterno's scheduled press conference today

This post was supposed to be about Joe Paterno's previously scheduled press conference today. About how he faced the national media, about what he said, etc.

It was going to be the next phase in this ongoing disaster. But it took the disaster to new levels.

Less than an hour until start time, PSU president Graham Spanier canceled Paterno's press conference. Reportedly he didn't tell Paterno, and he gave no reason.

There is only one acceptable reason at this hour, at this time, and in these extraordinary circumstances for Spanier to cancel: Because he's going to hold a press conference himself.

Except there has been no such announcement. In fact, Spanier - the heretofore media-friendly Penn State president - has only been heard from once the past few days, indirectly, when he released a statement Saturday offering his unconditional support for the accused perjurers, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who have since left their jobs.

Apparently some media reached Paterno today, because he expressed disillusionment and disappointment at the cancellation. According to ESPN, Paterno allegedly had a statement planned, and was going to field questions at the press conference.

Was Spanier afraid of what Paterno might say? Did he demand to see JoePa's statement first, and was rebuffed? Did he feel as if PSU wasn't equipped to handle this sudden onslaught of media. (If so, he needed to say so). Did he think it was unfair for Paterno to have to stand up and represent the university before the national media throng, when he should be doing so? Is this the first real sign that Paterno will be removed as coach soon?

Penn State football legend Matt Millen, speaking on ESPN a short time ago, said Paterno would be determined to explain himself, explain his side of the story and express his feelings about it all. And that the University must not want him speaking at this time, in effect representing the school. So they muzzled him.

Joe Paterno is a strong, towering figure, though not as much as he used to be, mainly because of his age. There's simply no way the 84-year-old Paterno of today wields the same clout, same influence, same power, he did 10-20-30 years ago.

He carries the highest profile at PSU, by far, of course. But he is not the most powerful person on campus, and he of course does not have ultimate authority. Spanier reinforced that a short time ago by canceling the press conference.

But where is Spanier? Why is he not out front? If he won't take the lead, then perhaps the PSU Board of Trustees needs to appoint someone who does. Soon.

On ESPN right now, Matt Millen is in tears.

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