By John Ruberry

Last week the NCAA agreed to restore the 111 victories it forced the Penn State Nittany Lions football team to vacate as part of its penalty for covering up the child sex abuse crimes of the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky. Once again Penn State’s College Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno, is the NCAA’s all-time winningest head coach at 409 wins.

Paterno, who died in 2012 two months after Penn State fired him, knew of two of Sandusky’s sexual assaults: a 1998 incident that led to Sandusky’s surprising (at the time) retirement the next year and Sandusky’s 2001 rape of a ten year-old boy in the showers of the football team. By then Sandusky, who received a cushy retirement package that included full access to the Nittany Lion athletic facilities, was also given emeritus status at the school.

I watched Paterno’s last victory–although no one knew that it would be so at the time–on television against Illinois, a dull and sloppy home game in the snow that Penn State won, or I should say, didn’t lose, 10-7. That 409th win was one of many landmark victories for Paterno–he passed Grambling’s Eddie Robinson to become the all-time Division 1 leader in wins. But JoePa coached his team from the press box, protected by glass from the unseasonable cold.

A similar glass wall of protection shields Paterno to this day. The public became aware of the Sandusky scandal a few days after win 409 and Paterno, along with the school president, was fired the following week. But JoePa couldn’t be fired in person, supporters had surrounded his home and Paterno got canned by way of a telephone call. Students rioted in response to JoePa’s dismissal. The next summer Penn State was hit by brutal NCAA sanctions, including a ban on bowl games for four years, drastic scholarship cuts, a $60 million fine, and the removal of those 111 wins. Those victories dated back to 1998, when Paterno became aware of a Sandusky sexual assault.

Paterno’s able successor, Bill O’Brien, left Penn State after two seasons working under those draconian sanctions. He had decried the pressure of the “Paterno people” at the college, that glass wall. O’Brien committed the sin of not being JoePa.

In 2013 some of the pulled scholarships were restored by the NCAA and last year the team’s bowl-ban was removed.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Perversely, the Penn State hockey team chose to celebrate, yes celebrate, the restoration of the Paterno wins by donning “409” stickers on their helmets for its game against Michigan State Friday night.

Paterno’s glass wall is getting stronger–and I believe there is something wrong with that. Penn State–you have a problem.

There is some good news. Penn State lost that hockey game.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Online commentators, particularly those on blogs, are known for their vitriol and sometimes cursory devotion to the truth.

But the accumulation of comments on a since-pulled online version of an article from a free weekly newspaper and a blog have led to the indictment on child molestation charges of a 94 year-old retired suburban Chicago physical education teacher and former Boy Scout leader, William Bricker, who now resides in northern Michigan.

The unraveling of his reputation began in 2005 when the Glen Arbor Sun of Grand Traverse County Michigan published a hagiographic human interest piece on Bricker, which included his recollections of combat in World War II and his summers as a counselor at a Wyoming summer camp near Grand Teton National Park, titled Old Cowboy, New Tricks: Lessons from Bill Bricker’s Adventurous Life. Comments, some vaguely accusatory, some supportive of Bricker, began appearing on the Sun’s website. But after the arrest of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for numerous molestation and rapes in 2011, the comments became more numerous and nastier.

Judy Linklater, who writes Mrs. Linklater’s Guide to the Universe blog, had her suspicions about Bricker, took the lead on the story–although the establishment media has mostly ignored her efforts–after the Sun yanked the article from its website in 2012. Her half-brothers had noticed Bricker’s odd behavior. The gym teacher’s overly affectionate actions around children, both male and female, for years had raised eyebrows in Winnetka, Illinois, where Bricker taught and where Linklater was raised.

Accusations of Bricker’s inappropriate contact with students at Hubbards Wood Elementary School, where he was employed as a teacher and then a substitute for over 40 years, go back to the 1950s and school officials were aware of them in 1968.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

But the statute of limitations in Illinois on such crimes prevents charges against Bricker in Illinois, but that is not the case in Wyoming. Bricker was arrested in September–he’s accused of molesting boys at the Wyoming summer camp in 1962 and 1985. The 1992 Winnetka Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, who now breathes with the aid of oxygen tanks, is fighting extradition to Wyoming.

Linklater did more than blog, she reached out to the alleged victims and she has been the lead reporter on the Bricker story–she’s a true journalist.

Other than their status as alleged victims of Bricker, there is a common link they share. Each thought they were alone–only they were reportedly harmed by him. They weren’t–when these emotionally-scarred individuals typed “Winnetka” and “Bricker” into an internet search box they discovered others who also have repulsive memories of the Old Cowboy.

UPDATE January 11, 2015: AP is reporting that Bricker died in Michigan two days ago.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.