Repost: UA faced Penn St. in ’99 after charges were not filed against Sanduskyby Javier Morales on Jul. 23, 2012, under Sports
RELATED LINK: Penn State coach, administrators let us all down — Andy Morales, TucsonCitizen.com
EDITOR’S NOTE This is a repost of a blog written by Javier Morales of TucsonCitizen.com and WildAboutAZCats.net on Nov. 8, 2011. Morales’ blog reflects on what Arizona’s loss in 1999 meant to the Wildcats’ program, which is miniscule in scope to what happened to the victims in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse case, but it was worth publishing. The NCAA announced this morning sanctions placed on Penn State because of the lack of institutional control. Among those sanctions is Penn State vacating wins from 1998 to 2011. One of those victories was the season-opening rout of Arizona, which was ranked No. 4 in the nation entering the game. Sandusky was on the sideline as part of Joe Paterno’s staff in that game. Although the win is vacated by Penn State, it does not mean Arizona is granted the victory. However, if justice was served before this game — as we have learned it should have been — it would have impacted this game between Penn State and Arizona.
“Jerry Sandusky admitted to my face, he admitted it. He admitted that he lathered up my son when they were naked and he bear-hugged him. If they would have done something about it in 1998, and then again in 2002 — there was two chances they dropped the ball and I think they should all be held accountable.” — Mother of one of the alleged victims in the Sandusky case as quoted by CBSSports.com
If law authorities decided to press charges against Sandusky, after concluding an investigation of the alleged 1998 sexual-abuse incident involving him and this mother’s son, the future of Arizona football and coach Dick Tomey could have been altered.
Penn State, with Sandusky as defensive coordinator, and Arizona played in the Pigskin Classic to open the 1999 season. The Nittany Lions, ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, routed No. 4 Arizona 41-7 before a national television audience and 97,168 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.
“It’s terribly damaging to them and for the conference,” former Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen was quoted as saying in an Associated Press story after the game.
After the UA posted the 12-1 record in 1998, it appeared that Tomey could have the Wildcats on the brink of finally making a Rose Bowl run and be a mainstay national power. The Wildcats, however, never recovered after that embarrassing loss to Penn State with Sandusky on the sideline coaching the Nittany Lions’ heralded defense, led by All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington.
Arizona running back Trung Canidate, mentioned as a Heisman candidate entering the game at Penn State, finished with only 37 yards on 10 carries. The Wildcats suffered an underachieving 6-6 season, losing their last three games.
Tomey was forced out following the 2000 season after the UA lost five consecutive games to finish 5-6. The mystique of the Desert Swarm and victory over Nebraska was — poof — gone.
John Mackovic was hired to replace Tomey and the Wildcats plummeted to the depths of college football finishing 2-10 in 2003. Mackovic stepped down halfway through that season and the UA’s program was basically in recovery mode the rest of the decade under Mike Stoops.
The Wildcats’ woeful turn of events can all be traced to that long afternoon at Penn State on Aug. 28, 1999.
This begs the question: What if former Centre County (Pa.) District Attorney Ray Gricar made the decision to press charges against Sandusky regarding the 1998 incident?
The developments would have possibly rocked the Nittany Lions’ program, much like we are seeing now with Sandusky’s other alleged sexual-abuse cases involving boys becoming public following the recent release of a grand jury report.
Sandusky ended 32 years as a Penn State assistant after that 1999 season. He abruptly retired from football although he was only 55 years old at the time. He left after Paterno, 73 then, reportedly informed him that he was not retiring until he was at least 75. Sandusky turned down three head-coaching offers to succeed Paterno, who remains as Penn State’s coach, although tentatively following this scandal.
Is it a coincidence that Sandusky retired a year after the investigation of the alleged incident in 1998? A year after Penn State beat Arizona, in 2000, Sandusky was allegedly seen by a janitor performing oral sex on a boy in a shower at the Penn State football facility.
According to the CBSSports.com report, Gricar disappeared in 2005, and has been presumed dead since then. Gricar never publicly spoke about why he declined to press charges in the alleged 1998 incident, but the mother has said she was told “it was all a big mistake,” according to PennLive.com.
If charges were pressed against Sandusky, he possibly would not have been the defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions as they prepared to face Arizona. A cloud would have been cast over the Penn State program. It’s anybody’s guess how that would have affected the Nittany Lion program and perception of Paterno, who entrusted Sandusky for 32 years as a lead assistant.
We now realize that Sandusky may have been protected in 1998 as he was after the alleged incidents in 2000 with the janitor as a witness and 2002 with Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant, catching Sandusky having sexual intercourse with a boy in a shower at the Penn State football facility.
The likely reason for this protection of Sandusky, who Penn State officials never turned into law officials? To avoid embarrassment for the legendary Paterno and the storied Penn State program. This appears to have backfired for Paterno and Penn State’s administrators.
The argument can be made the lack of action against Sandusky, starting with the alleged incident in 1998, indirectly affected the Arizona football program. Far more importantly, it has adversely left a mark on at least eight alleged victims and their families.
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category. Don’t forget: For all the links, Twitter feeds and news feeds related to Arizona and its opponents, go to Morales’ site WILDABOUTAZCATS.NET. No other Arizona sports Web site is like it!