Book sheds light on Paterno's reaction to firing, Sandusky

Posted: August 19, 2012

Joe Paterno had to be prodded by his family to read the grand jury report regarding Jerry Sandusky and did not understand some of its graphic terminology, according to a new book.

The book, Paterno by Joe Posnanski, was purchased Friday by the Associated Press in advance of its release next week.

In Paterno, Posnanski describes a scene at the coach's home two days after Sandusky had been charged with child sex abuse last November. Paterno's family and a close adviser were trying to explain to the Penn State coach that there was a growing sentiment Paterno must have known for years about the accusations against Sandusky.

The book quotes Paterno as shouting, "I'm not omniscient!"

The book also indicates Paterno didn't comprehend all the terms in the report, asking his son what sodomy meant.

According to the book, later that night Paterno's son Scott told his mother that she should brace herself for the possibility that Joe could be fired.

Sue Paterno responded, "Scotty, that will kill him."

Paterno was fired by school trustees two days later, on Nov. 9. He died in January at age 85 of cancer.

Sandusky, Paterno's longtime defensive coordinator, is jailed and awaiting sentencing after being convicted in June on 45 criminal counts involving 10 boys.

Former athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired school administrator Gary Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report the abuse allegations against Sandusky.

Paterno was not charged, though the NCAA last month slammed his beloved football program with a range of tough sanctions. Among them, the Nittany Lions were forced to vacate 112 wins from 1998 to 2011, meaning Paterno no longer has the most coaching victories in major college football.

Paterno had granted access to Posnanski to write a biography in 2011, well before Sandusky was charged.

"Nobody would argue - and certainly my book does not argue - that the good Joe Paterno did in his life should shield him from the horrors of his mistakes," Posnanski wrote in a column for USA Today earlier this week. "Some would argue, especially in the white-hot emotion sparked by the latest revelations, that Paterno's role in the Jerry Sandusky crimes invalidates whatever good he might have done. My book does not argue that, either. My book, I believe, lets the reader make up his or her own mind."

The book also details the long and frosty relationship Paterno had with Sandusky while they worked together at Penn State.

According to the book, the two were never friendly and late in Sandusky's tenure, Paterno felt the defense was not performing well and neither was Sandusky.

Paterno did not want to fire Sandusky because he was so popular in the community and with fans, according to the book. The book indicates that Sandusky showed interest in taking an early retirement in 1999, and Paterno encouraged him to do so and let his assistant know he would not be the next head coach at Penn State.

Smith at Marshall. Wide receiver Devon Smith, who left Penn State in June, transferred to Marshall, the Huntington, W.Va., school said.

"Devon is a great young guy, has tremendous talent, and is one of the fastest players in the country," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said in a statement on the school's website Thursday.

Smith, a senior, left the Nittany Lions for personal reasons, Jeff Nelson, a spokesman for Penn State, said in an e-mail. Two websites, Fight on State and Blue White Illustrate, reported in June that Smith had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

Smith was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in April following a search of his apartment in March. It's not clear whether the arrest and his departure from the team were related.

He is eligible to play this season because the NCAA waived its provision that would have required Penn State transfers to sit out a season as part of sanctions related to the Sandusky case.

Smith caught 25 passes for 402 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games last season. As a sophomore, he had 27 catches for 363 yards and one touchdown, and ranked second in the Big Ten with a 12.9-yard punt return average.

Lions get transfer. Akron redshirt freshman wide receiver Jared Fagnano has transferred to Penn State, according to

Fagnano, whose brother Jacob is a senior safety with the Nittany Lions, said the recent transfers in the wake of the sanctions handed down in the Sandusky case opened an opportunity for him at State College.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pound receiver is not on scholarship and will have to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.

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