Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Giving It a Twirl

There was Dr. Graham Spanier, one hand firmly on waist, the other madly twirling a baton. It was during a break in play at a recent Penn State men's basketball game at the Jordan Center.

Blue Sapphire, the traditional PSU twirler, stood next to Dr. Spanier at center court, in sequins. Spanier came casual, in more ways than one.

For a guy who you'd think might be stressing out a little over a big decision on deck, Penn State's recently re-upped president appeared as a man without a care in the world.

So, it's come to this: The fate of Joe Paterno, a man who grew up with Lombardi, is in the hands of a drum major.

But, rest assured, that's exactly the case.

I loved the imagery in this opening paragraph of David Jone's column, in today's Patriot-News, on the impending power struggle between Graham and JoePa over JoePa's retirement. I thought it captured the essence of Penn State's anti-intellectual prexy. However, I don't agree with Jone's conclusion that Graham's going to come out on top in this battle.

His conclusion is based on off the record interviews with a few trustees and top influence peddlers. Jone's primary point is that the BOT extended Graham's contract to 2012 specifically to give him the clout he needed to can JoePa. The funny thing about that is less than a week after the extension JoePa won a power struggle with Vicky Triponey who subsequently resigned as Vice President for Student Affairs. So the extension didn't yield its intended effect, at least in the short run.

I don't think these leaks reflect the actual majority opinion on the BOT. My guess is they are designed to provoke a reaction from JoePa supporters in order to see how strong the response is. This will give those leaking a gauge of what will happen if they make a move on dumping JoePa.

In a bureaucratic knife fight, JoePa still takes Graham. And this would be the best result academically for the University. It is better to have an octogenarian Virgil quoting football coach muddling by, than it is to have a an anti-intellectual would-be drum major as the prexy.

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