The Freeh Report on Penn State and the Sandusky cover-up/scandal comes out tomorrow morning. The early rumors are that it is going to be wide-ranging and scathing. Going after not just the football program, but Penn State and the whole culture at the school. As such, you see groups trying to get ready for it, or try and protect tarnished legacies (and keep trying it seems).
I’m going to read it. I will probably have some things to say about it afterwards. One name I’ll be looking for with some interest is Tom Bradley. The man who at one point seemed poised to be Pitt’s head coach (or UConn’s or Temple’s).
Back in 2010/2011 when Bradley abruptly seemed to be pursuing every available 1-A job on the East Coast, the speculation was that he realized he would not be the guy to succeed Paterno. Or that he had been too picky for too long, and just wanted to be a head coach before he became yet another PSU assistant who was never more than that. That he didn’t want to be like Bud Foster at VT.
Now we wonder and speculate if he was trying to get any job he could because he knew about the grand jury investigations into Jerry Sandusky. That he was trying to get out before the crap hit.
Back when it seemed Bradley might be Pitt’s head coach in 2011, there was actually a fair amount enthusiasm (not to mention weariness after the whole Haywood debacle). A year later, he had no chance of being the DC at Pitt — and it turns out anywhere else.
Tom Bradley’s name has not really been mentioned in most of the Penn State scandal. He got through being the interim head coach. Got showed the door, and has been relatively anonymous. No immediate job opportunities, but no one was surprised given everything that was coming. The smart thing has been to keep his head down and avoid as much media attention as possible.
So for the most part, he’s been relatively anonymous. It almost seemed as if somehow the whole mess was going to miss Bradley completely. That being in the eye of the storm would somehow keep him safe. Except for one thing at the Sandusky trial.
At one point, the accuser said Sandusky did his summer coursework for him. At another, he said he thought former Penn State assistant coach Tom Bradley was “suspicious” when he found the boy and Sandusky in a Penn State shower. “There was one time that Coach Bradley had come in, and I can’t say what his thoughts were, but I think he was suspicious because he stayed in the shower until we left,” he testified.
That little tidbit, along with other former players who have admitted that in the past they had heard rumors about Sandusky.
[Matt] Johnson recalled how, after he left Penn State, Sandusky visited his home once and how he visited his office in New York City, maybe four or five years ago. Not long after, Johnson began hearing rumors about his former coach. But they were hard to believe. Why should he believe them?
The past eight months made him understand.
Acknowledging the existence of the rumors dating back over years. Making it back to former players not even on the campus. Yet the coaches were in the dark? The people around the program and Sandusky in the area? Harder to swallow.
And even Bradley’s friends know the questions are out there — and are not comfortable.
[Rich] Leathery spent his final year at Penn State as part of a most magical run: He was the student athletic trainer for the undefeated 1994 team, from August through the Rose Bowl.
He graduated Penn State, spent 10 years as Dover High’s athletic trainer and eventually took over as athletic director in 2008.
He often returned to Penn State and talked with Bradley.
Though he didn’t know Sandusky well, he spent time around him and never would have suspected what transpired, never saw a red flag.
He wonders if others could have, though.
It’s the unknowing that might always eat at him.
“What did some of the guys know that I knew? What did Tom Bradley know? . . . I don’t know what they knew. I don’t want to pass judgement on any of those guys. I don’t know if they looked the other way.”
He’s right. We don’t know if they looked the other way. We may never know. At the same time, no one can simply take them at their word on this. This isn’t innocent until proven guilty. That’s the law and dealing with criminal accusations. This is something else. This is about trust. This is about reputation and association. Bradley has stayed quiet. Even after he got name-checked at the trial. Whenever he emerges it will be one of the first questions he faces.
In a way, Pitt was lucky to have hired Fraud Graham in 2011. At least, compared to the “what ifs” had Pitt hired Tom Bradley.
Pitt would have been in a position of either having to fire someone for possibly knowing of child molestation and the cover-up. Or having to defend the coach of being part of the cover-up. To say nothing of having to defend Penn State if you choose to defend Bradley
For someone like Tom Bradley, it won’t be over for a while. He was tight with Mike McQueary. As it stands, McQueary is out of coaching, and until the appeals process is over he probably won’t be able to speak to the media about everything. And who knows what he says if he talks. Who knows who else he might say he told about Sandusky. Even if McQueary and Bradley never shared or compared notes on Sandusky, until the point where McQueary does the one-on-one interview or tell-all bo0k that is going to be an open question.
I hope Tom Bradley saved and invested well. Even the Steelers probably can’t touch him right now.