National media lags on Paterno

The national media rightly has been aggressive in covering the travesty at Penn State involving alleged sexual assault of minors by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

But what took so long?

The story, which resulted in the firing of coach Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier on Wednesday, hasn't been a secret. Local media were digging for answers long before ESPN, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and moved in.

Take these questions posed seven months ago by Mark Madden, a columnist at the Beaver County (Pa.) Times.

"What did Paterno know, and when did he know it?" Madden asked. "What did Penn State's administration know, and when did they know it?"

And later, Madden asked, "If Paterno and Penn State knew, but didn't act, instead facilitating Sandusky's untroubled (1999) retirement -- are Paterno and Penn State responsible for untoward acts since committed by Sandusky?"

Penn State might be located in a hard-to-reach small town, but its football program is one of the nation's traditional powers. Paterno is an icon to many.

News of Sandusky's alleged appalling acts have been around for a while, and it shouldn't have taken his arrest Saturday and the grand jury report to get the national media's attention.

If the national media had produced the same dogged reporting seven months ago it is providing now, answers would've come more quickly, and there wouldn't have been a debate over whether Paterno should finish the season.

He would have been fired long before Wednesday.

■ THROW OUT THE BCS, TOO -- The chase for the Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifier status is all but ruining college athletics, but movement appears afoot to get rid of awarding BCS slots to the champions of the six current automatic qualifiers.

Big 12 Conference interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told that having the top 10 teams in the five BCS bowls regardless of conference affiliation could deter schools from switching conferences.

"You can make it on your merit without having to be in an automatic qualifying situation," Neinas said. "That would solve some problems here with people just scrambling because they think they have to take in certain institutions."

Some conferences, such as the Atlantic Coast, might be concerned about not qualifying a team. The Rose Bowl, which prefers matching the champions of the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences, also might object.

But if this idea goes through, maybe some of the realignment lunacy will end.

■ NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE -- Georgia football coach Mark Richt suspended three players for last week's game against New Mexico State, so it's probably a sore subject.

It was made more painful for Richt when a reporter asked the following question: "To get this business out of the way, any suspensions that we need to know about? Are there any injuries?"

"I resent that question, but I'll answer the question," Richt said. "I think it's a bad question. I don't think it's professional, quite frankly, but I had another guy ask me that in the other room. To answer your question, I'm not going to answer that question, because I don't like it."

At least he cleared that up.