Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually assaulting eight young boys, twice was poised to become an ACC head coach.
Sandusky interviewed at Maryland in 1991 and reportedly turned down an offer, prompting the Terps to hire Holy Cross’ Mark Duffner. In 2000, one year into his retirement from Penn State, Sandusky was a leading candidate to succeed George Welsh at Virginia.
The primary reason U.Va. officials turned to then-New York Jets coach Al Groh instead: They questioned Sandusky’s commitment to coaching given the considerable time he spent running The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youth.
Today, Sandusky stands accused of molesting eight boys he met through The Second Mile. He is charged with 40 counts, 21 of which are felonies, for alleged assaults that occurred from 1994-2009.
Unspeakable and chilling don’t begin to describe, and Penn State’s scandalous mismanagement of the case has led to perjury charges against athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz, both of whom resigned late Sunday after an emergency meeting of the school’s governing board.
Inexplicably, no Penn State official informed police after a graduate assistant coach told head coach Joe Paterno in 2002 that he witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy the graduate assistant estimated to be 10 years old in the football locker room showers.
Virginia turned to Sandusky in 2000 after its primary target, then-Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt, accepted the Georgia job. A 1966 Penn State graduate, Sandusky had coached All-America linebackers such as Jack Ham, Shane Conlan and LaVar Arrington. He wrote “Developing Linebackers, the Penn State Way,” and proceeds from the book went to The Second Mile.
“Since 1977, The Second Mile has followed the path of its founder, Jerry Sandusky, to help Pennsylvania's children achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing them with opportunities to develop self-esteem,” the organization’s website states.
Then-Virginia athletic director Terry Holland interviewed others, including Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, but Sandusky was appealing not only because of his 32 seasons under Joe Paterno at Penn State but also because of the staff he planned to hire.
Jim Caldwell was going to be associate head coach and accompanied Sandusky on one of his Virginia interviews. A former Penn State assistant, he had just been fired as Wake Forest’s head coach. Today he’s the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach.
Al Golden was going to be defensive coordinator. He had just completed his first season as Penn State’s linebackers coach after three seasons in the same position at Boston College under Tom O’Brien.
Golden landed at Virginia anyway. Groh hired him as a defensive assistant, and after five seasons Golden left to become Temple’s head coach. This is Golden’s first year as Miami’s head coach.
According to stories written at the time by the Daily Press’ Dave Johnson and Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Jeff White, Sandusky interviewed twice in Charlottesville with Virginia officials, including then-president John Casteen. Moreover, a Cavaliers delegation that included Casteen and Holland later flew to Pennsylvania to meet with Sandusky.
Still unconvinced Sandusky’s heart was in a return to football, Holland and Casteen then flew to New Jersey and met with Groh, whom they hired within 48 hours.
After Groh’s appointment, White reached Sandusky at his Pennsylvania home and told him Virginia questioned his commitment to coaching. Sandusky did not object.
“I'm a very complex person,” he told White. “I couldn't deny the importance of Second Mile in my life. I could have played a game and said I was something different than I am, but that's not me.”
Sandusky said coaching the Cavaliers “would have been neat in a lot of ways, but I've got a lot going on here, and I'll be OK.”
Today those words ring creepy and tragic.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP