David Jones, columnist for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, has a review of "Fourth and Long, The Fight For The Soul of College Football." John U. Bacon, a Michigan journalism professor, is the author, and although the book has inaccuracies, there are juicy details of a locker room meltdown involving Penn State players and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno during halftime of the 2011 game between the Nittany Lions and Illinois at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State eventually won, 10-7, but it was Joe Paterno's last game on the sideline. The Jerry Sandusky story broke next week, crippling NCAA sanctions followed and life was never the same in State College, Pa.
The Nittany Lions entered that Saturday with a 7-1 record, but there were problems. The Penn State offense had struggled mightily throughout the season and it came to surface at halftime.
The story is told through two team captains — linebacker Mike Mauti and fullback Mike Zordich. The players hold nothing back when in criticizing the younger Paterno, son of the coach.
The teams were battling through a scoreless first half when, according to accounts of Mauti and Zordich, defensive caption Drew Astorino became frustrated with the play of starting quarterback Rob Bolden. Astorino grabbed a headset and screamed at the junior Paterno in the upstairs booth: "Get that mother------ out of this game right now!"
Bacon writes: "At halftime, knowing Jay Paterno would be running down from the press box to the locker room, the players made a full sprint for the locker room. 'Lots of guys were looking for a fight,' recalled Zordich. 'They'd been waiting for this.'
"Jay Paterno played right into their hands, storming into the defensive meeting room, yelling, 'You mother------s! You think you can get on the headset and talk to me like that?!'
The players were enraged and tried to get at Paterno, who was physically removed from the room for his own protection.
"That dude was an example of everything a coach should not be," Mauti is quoted as saying of Jay Paterno.
Jones contacted Paterno for comments and he emailed a response.
Paterno writes that he was never contacted for comment by Bacon and adds: "When a team is having a great season, as we were in 2011, there is intensity and passion on game day. That is the case in locker rooms all over the country every week. We speak our minds, we don't always like what gets said. When that game was over we celebrated as a team and resolved to go fight for the next win."