– Penn State trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier amid sex abuse allegations against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Spanier was made aware of child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky in 2002 but didn’t tell police, according to grand jury testimony. He has not been charged with a crime, but many have called for him to step down and students have rallied on the steps of the Old Main administration building. The massive shakeup Wednesday night came hours after Paterno announced that he planned to retire at the end of his 46th season. But the outcry following the arrest of Sandusky on molestation charges proved too much for the board to ignore.
The firings came three days before Penn State hosts Nebraska in its final home game of the season, a day usually set aside to honour seniors on the team. The ouster of the man affectionately known as “JoePa” brings to an end one of the most storied coaching careers — not just in college football but in all of sports. Paterno has 409 victories — a record for major college football — won two national titles and guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons. He reached 300 wins faster than any other coach. Paterno released this statement:
“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
“I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it.
A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value.
I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt.”
– The players and owners emerged late Wednesday evening to announce that they would be continuing their meeting at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday. The owners’ deadline came and passed, and is really only a negotiating ploy to threaten a lower BRI. As long as the players’ counteroffers are reasonable, talks will continue for at least a few days. The players are staring at worsening offer if they don’t agree, and they have no real options. Now, they’re trying to make the offers so close that the owners just bridge the gap. David Stern is likely taking an updated offer back to the owners, which would explain the length of the meeting and need to table discussion. Stay tuned.
– Free agent SS Jose Reyes had lunch in Florida Wednesday with Marlins team officials. ”I would certainly count him amongst our priorities,” Marlins president David Samson said after the visit. Reyes is already drawing interest from several teams, and is likely to command bids in the area of $100M. If the Marlins can compete with that, they’ll have a shot at landing the 28-year-old–if not, SS Hanley Ramirez will not be asked to change positions.
– According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies and SS Jimmy Rollins have engaged in “preliminary talks.” Rollins is holding tight to his desire for a 5-year deal. The Phillies are not expected to meet that asking price, but they’ll remain on top of the negotiations that he’s having with other teams before eventually making a competitive bid. Rollins is known to enjoy playing in Philly, but the veteran shortstop has one last chance to rake in a substantial free agent deal and is likely to chase the richest contract he can find.
– Joe Cowley of the Chicago-Sun Times reports that LHP Mark Buehrle has told the White Sox that he will not accept a hometown discount to stay in Chicago. Buehrle, 33 in March, met with Marlins earlier this week while Cowley writes that about ten teams have expressed interest. The market for free agent starters is especially thin this winter, so this is his last chance for a big payday. The White Sox are still in the mix, but they could be priced out of the bidding.
– Rangers’ OF Josh Hamilton (groin) has decided that he will indeed travel to Philadelphia Thursday for a groin exam. A report Wednesday said that Hamilton was cancelling the trip due to an illness in his family, but the examination is now back on. Doctors might recommend surgery, but the expectation is that the 30-year-old will be fine by the start of spring training next February. He posted an .882 OPS and 25 homers in 121 games this season.
– OF Matt Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, is optimistic that the Dodgers will reach an extension with his client. ”I don’t think that it’s going to be difficult, I really don’t. I think we should be able to come to something. I have talked with [general manager] Ned [Colletti] on a few occasions. We have covered some ground.” Kemp is set to become a free agent after the 2012 season. He batted .324 with a .986 OPS, 39 homers, 40 steals and 126 RBI in 161 games this year.
– The Cardinals interviewed third base coach Jose Oquendo and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg Wednesday for their opening at manager. The Cardinals also interviewed former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona on Tuesday and previously chatted with Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney, former catcher Mike Matheny and former Cardinals infielder Joe McEwing. There’s no clear favourite at this point, but the St. Louis higher-ups are not expected to hold second interviews.
– According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies have contacted the Braves about the availability of INF Martin Prado. The Rockies reportedly scouted Prado heavily last season and view him as a solution at second base. He also has experience at third base, where Colorado has another hole. The clubs have yet to exchange names, but Renck suggests OF Seth Smith and OF Charlie Blackmon as possible fits for Atlanta. The versatile Prado earned $3.1M this season and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter.
– D’Backs’ SS Stephen Drew (fractured right ankle) underwent hernia surgery last month. Drew is currently recovering from a fractured right ankle and was set back about 10 days by the hernia procedure.
– According to Rafael Rojas of Viva Colorado, Nationals’ C Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in Venezuela. Ramos was taken from his home in the town of Valencia. The report has been confirmed by his winter league team, Tigres de Aragua. According to Globovision, Venezuela’s interior minister and justice minister, Tarek El Aissami, has confirmed that the vehicle involved in Ramos’ kidnapping. The vehicle was found abandoned in Bejuma, which is about an hour away from where Ramos was taken at gunpoint at his home in Valencia on Wednesday. Ramos’ kidnappers have yet to contact his family or the authorities.
– According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows will post Japanese OF Norichika Aoki for MLB teams. Aoki, who turns 30 in January, has a .329 lifetime batting average in Japan and is a three-time Central League batting champion. His production significantly fell off this season as a more pitcher-friendly ball was introduced in Japan. He has experience in center field, but is in no way a lock to have a ton of value in MLB.
– The Astros have signed OF Travis Buck to a minor league contract. Buck posted a weak .228/.275/.342 batting line in 160 plate appearances this season for the Indians, but he’s flashed potential in previous years. The 27-year-old will try to win a spot on the Houston bench once spring training rolls around.
– Padres’ LHP Clayton Richard (shoulder) began a throwing program last week. Richard underwent season-ending surgery in July after posting a 3.88 ERA and 53/38 K/BB ratio over 99 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old is fully expected to be back to 100% health by the start of spring training next February.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Shane McMahon’s name was brought up during recent internal WWE talks in regards to creative but the feeling was that he’s gone and there are little chances of luring him back any time soon.
– Former WWE talent Mark Canterbury (aka Henry O. Godwinn), 47, was hospitalized following a car wreck Tuesday night in Lindside, West Virginia. He reportedly drove his automobile over a cliff. Law enforcement used the Jaws of Life to remove Canterbury from his automobile and he was flown to an intensive care unit. Canterbury had both his spleen and appendix removed Wednesday. Doctors discovered a tumor in his appendix while performing surgery, resulting in its removal. His leg was broken in three places, and both of his lungs were punctured. He also suffered 13 broken ribs.
– According to the PWInsider, there has been a lot of backstage controversy surrounding Evan Bourne’s recent Wellness violation and subsequent suspension. Bourne was suspended for smoking synthetic marijuana (believed to be “Spice”), which WWE has been cracking down on in recent months. According to Dave Meltzer, Word is that Bourne used it at a party with other WWE talents and that one or more wrestlers above Bourne on the roster were using it. Talk among the wrestlers has to do with the idea that a mid-carder like Bourne would get suspended for doing the same thing that a main eventer does and doesn’t get suspended. Speaking of Bourne just completed an interview with WWE Magazine. He wrote on Twitter today:
“Just finished a very candid and honest interview with @WWEmagazine. Can’t wait for my cover shoot next…”
– Christian reportedly suffered a leg injury at Wednesday’s SmackDown live event in Brussels, Belgium. Christian hit the mat early in his bout against Sheamus holding either his knee or ankle. After consulting with the referee, he stood up on one leg to receive the Brogue Kick and was subsequently pinned. He was then assisted to the backstage area by personnel. Following the brief match, Sheamus talked to fans at ringside, signed autographs and posed for pictures.
– The Honky Tonk Man appeared on Busted Open, which airs every Monday and Wednesday on Sirius 92 and XM 207 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Highlights from the interview are as follows:
Direction of wrestling: “I think what WWE has done, and I don’t mention what TNA a lot because sometimes I don’t even know if they’re still in business. Anyway, they’re so ratings-driven right now, and they have been for a couple of years. They’re so afraid that if someone picks up that remote control, and clicks to another channel, the person might not come back and watch the show. And the wrestlers today; they are not fans of wrestling.
“They’re not wrestling historians, and the fans themselves, and the wrestlers. I say it: They’re fans of a TV show called, ‘Raw.’ I think it had a lot to do with it. It started there, and then of course it went into this hardcore level, and then to the x-rated level, and…For somewhere down along the line…Well, look at this past Wrestlemania. The biggest feud they had, and the longest feud they had was between the TV commentators. I mean, when you have to dig that deep in the barrel, and believe me, TV commentators, and referees do not sell tickets!”
Intercontinental Title/Feuds: “It was a catalyst to move me from mid-upper card status to main event status. Of course it was…The belt meant that, it meant that much…and you hit the nail on the head. These belts have been so devalued. They mean absolutely nothing. No one knows who…Well they got like 4, 5 different World Champions, they finally brought Tag-Team Champions back now, and, they had European and Hardcore, and they dropped those and, and for sometimes a guy like not so long ago, he was World Champion for one day.
“And these feuds went on for, I was with The Ultimate Warrior for 6 months, 7 months. I was with Randy for almost a year. I was with Jake for 6 or 7 months. So, during that course of time, you have a chance then to, like you said, develop this character, work on it, make it work with your opponent, so that it creates interest for the fans. Listen, if the fans are not interested, they’re going to stay home. I really think the slow burn will always work, and to me it’s like a movie: If you kill The Terminator in the first 10 minutes of the movie, why would you stay for the next 2 hours? It’s one of those things where if Hollywood hasn’t forgotten how to do it, they still can do it.”
On the lack of superstars: “I think because they don’t give the young fellows enough time to develop. To take em’ down, and say it’s a minor league in Florida, and have em’ down there for 2 years, and they’re self-contained being somewhat brain-washed I guess to do just WWE-style wrestling, and learn how to read a script, and practice reading a script, and memorizing it. That’s not really how you become a Superstar or that’s not how you learn this business. It’s a hands-on type thing that you have to practice and do, day-after-day, night-after-night, different parts of the country, riding the cars with different guys. Learn different points-of-views, learn different styles. And then you put it all together and after about 5 years, you say, “Gosh, I’ve been doing this all wrong, and then you start to understand how to be a star.
“And that’s the point I was trying to make, that these young fellas…Nothing against them, they’re obviously good talents, and they could be Superstars, if given the right time and opportunity. Not just to be thrown in the ring, or thrown on the Raw or Smackdown show, and , I would…myself personally; I would hate to have to try to start over the way the business is structured today. Because I don’t know that I could do it. I don’t know that..If they only gave me 1 shot at it, could I make it work or give me 2 Raw shows, and then cut me or send me back to the minors? That’s a very difficult situation.
“The independent scene is my bread, and butter, but they are so cut-throat to each other, that it’s like, I might be in 1 town 100-miles away, there’s a show the next night, and they fly in a whole new talent. It’s like, ‘No, we’re not gonna’ use that guy’s talent because we don’t like him, and his promotion,’ or, ‘He’s trying to run in our back yard,’ and it’s not just in America, it’s around the world I see this because I travel everywhere. But if they would get together, and they said, ‘Look, let’s 3 of us guys, promoters, get together, and run 3 shows straight in a row of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Friday, Saturday, Sunday,’ and use these guys this way, I think it would work.
“What I don’t understand is with WWE; with the amount of money they have behind them, and the size of the bank account, why don’t they just open up a territory themselves, and say, ‘OK. We’re going to run all of the state of Texas for the next year. Then we’re going to move out to California to do that,..,’ I mean I think it would be cost-effective for them. And they could develop some real stars. You could see a star start to develop. Believe me, you cannot, like I said, go out there, spend two years out in a training camp, or a year out in a training camp, and all of a sudden be thrown out there on TV, and say, ‘OK, make it or break it!’ This it can’t be done!”
– Arda Ocal of The Score Television Network spoke with former WWE Superstar “The Native American” Tatanka. Highlights from the interview are as follows:
Looking back on the two-year undefeated streak and why it didn’t lead to something bigger than it did: “It did lead to a big thing, it lead up to Yokozuna, lead up to Ludvig Borga. Ludvig Borga was the one who actually defeated me. But Ludvig Borga, (WWE) had big plans for him, they really wanted to push him to the sky. They really wanted to do some real big things with Ludvig Borga, but it just never caught with him.”
Does Tatanka think about the WWE Hall of Fame, has his name come up at all and who you would he like to induct him? “Ricky The Dragon Steamboat would be awesome, and the reason for that is because when I started the business, I was in the North Carolinas and we just hit it off. Im one of those guys that beleive that you never become successful by yourself.”
– This year’s WWE Tribute to the Troops event will not be open to the public when it takes place December 11 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Only military personnel will be permitted to attend the event, which is why it has not been publicized. Last year’s event at Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas was open to the public as a free show.??
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Jeff Hardy’s current probation stipulations allow him to leave his home after 6pm only for work. When he’s not booked to work, Hardy is not allowed out of his home after 6pm and cannot have visitors over after 6pm. This will last for the next four months.
– As noted before, TNA will be cross-promoting with Bellator MMA when the group arrives on Spike TV in 2013. There are already plans in place for extensive promotion between the two that we will start seeing in 2012 and full force in 2013. Both promotions will advertise on each others shows and plug the main angles, and there will be several guest appearances with each promotions’ top stars.