The first step toward rebuilding Penn State’s brand image is officially under way.
Its face, at least for now, is that of Tom Bradley. The 55-year-old addressed the masses Thursday as he took over as interim head coach of Penn State’s football team. He takes over for Joe Paterno, who was fired Wednesday night.
“Coach Paterno has meant more to me than anyone except my father,” an emotional Bradley said. “I don’t want to get emotional and start talking about it.”
Bradley, a 33-year assistant to Paterno, said he did so with a heavy heart. He had served as Penn State’s defensive coordinator after taking over for disgraced former coach Jerry Sandusky following the 1998 season. Bradley had long been rumored to be a possible replacement for Paterno, if and when the 84-year-old decided to call it quits. In the end, that decision wasn’t up to Paterno.
“I take this job with very mixed emotions due to the situation,” Bradley said. “I’ve been asked to handle this and I told them I will do it. I told the players, the expectations are the expectations. We’re not going to waver from that.”
While Bradley tried to keep the focus on football — the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions host No. 19 Nebraska Saturday in their final home game — the bizarre and twisted transgressions of his predecessors couldn’t be ignored. Mike McQueary, the then 28-year-old graduate assistant who witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in the shower, remains on Penn State’s staff.
McQueary will reportedly coach from the press box — due to safety concerns — during this weekend’s Big Ten clash, a game that will honor the Nittany Lions’ senior class.
“They will be focused,” Bradley said. “There has been a tremendous amount of distraction over the past week, but they will come to play on Saturday.”