We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Monday, Sept. 19. Let’s get started.
Smith is suddenly the man in the middle
Brandon Smith’s story is an uplifting one, but also one with potentially dire consequences for Penn State.
The one-time walk-on came on when starting middle linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White suffered a knee injury at the end of the first quarter of Saturday’s 34-27 victory over Temple. Smith played the rest of the game, contributing eight tackles.
That seemed to hearten everyone, because the redshirt junior had made exactly one stop while appearing in five career games before Saturday. Which is more, he is a serious guy – married for a year, 3.77 GPA, hoping to go to medical school — all incredible credentials.
“This is not big to him,” safety Marcus Allen said. “He was born for this.”
So, great story. Nobody’s denying that. Nobody’s selling the young man short.
At the same time, the Nittany Lions might be looking at the prospect of starting three backup linebackers when they visit No. 4 Michigan on Saturday.
Jason Cabinda missed his second straight game Saturday, and has a cast on his left hand. Brandon Bell was on crutches, and Wartman-White’s injury was to his right knee. He blew out his left against Temple in the 2015 opener and missed the rest of the season.
That left nearly all the snaps to Smith and sophomores Manny Bowen and Jake Cooper.
Penn State coach James Franklin does not address injuries, so there’s no telling how the Lions might line up this weekend. But it appears at this juncture that they are in for some tough sledding, and Las Vegas agrees. Michigan has been installed as a 16-point favorite in the game, a 3:30 p.m. (ET) start on ABC.
Standing up for Joe Paterno
The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader’s Derek Levarse, one of the more thoughtful writers on the Penn State beat, spoke with some former players from northeast Pennsylvania after the lettermen’s reunion and the tribute to the late Joe Paterno during Saturday’s game. The latter consisted of three Paterno-themed videos throughout the day, the appearance of the captains from Penn State’s 1966 team (Paterno’s first) at the coin toss and the introduction of several members of that club at halftime.
Levarse asked Jimmy Cefalo, a native of Pittston, Pa., and later a wide receiver with the Miami Dolphins, if his view of the former coach had changed in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal. Cefalo said it had not:
“Joe will always be someone who took me out of a very small town and he gave me a wonderful opportunity. I don’t know how many people would say, ‘He was my mentor and someone who gave me a great deal of my life,’ and then change (their) opinion about him. It doesn’t happen very often and it shouldn’t happen to any of us.”
Harry Hamilton, a member of PSU’s 1982 national championship team, later played for the New York Jets. He recalled Paterno visiting the family home in Wapwallopen and ensuring Hamilton’s dad, Stan, that Harry would get an education.
“No other coach had done that,” Harry Hamilton said. “No other coach seemed to have that on their mind. It was more football. Clearly Joe Paterno was much more than just football.”
His younger brother Lance, who followed Harry to Penn State, concurred.
“He shaped us during very impressionable years of our lives. The influence that he had, being the second father figure to many of us — I would say most of us — and now to come back and pay tribute, it’s the smallest way possible (to honor him). Because there’s so much more that we really owe him as a mentor, a leader and a coach.”
The human cost of child sexual abuse
Mike Wise of The Undefeated wrote a powerful piece about the trauma of child sexual abuse, having been abused himself by an uncle in his younger years. And because of that, he identified with Sandusky’s victims when covering the trial four years ago.
The man (a reference to himself) especially related to Victim No. 4, who eyeballed Sandusky with venom. “Because of you, I trust no one. I won’t leave my child alone with anyone. My only regret, I ask that others (who came forward) before me forgive me for not coming forward sooner.”
Wise as a result bristled at the thought of Paterno being honored over the weekend, and how he might be viewed in the future.
It’s not up to the Penn State community – the unaffected fan in the stadium’s third row – to decide how Paterno’s legacy should be treated. It’s not up to his widow, Sue Paterno, who persuaded the university to have this weekend.
It’s up to the men who were molested. They get to decide.
Elsewhere on the Land of 10
Analytics have Michigan the No. 1 team in the country |Former Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs, now with the Minnesota Vikings, enjoys a big night against Green Bay on Sunday Night Football | Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, a Wisconsin product became the second-fastest player in NFL history to reach 75 career sacks on Sunday