A sea of broken glass glittered under streetlights decorated with blue and silver snowflakes. Empty mace dispensers with pistol grips rolled near bright yellow leaves. Shreds of toilet paper and newspapers. A wet moccasin. Crushed cans of Natural Light beer. Rocks the size of baseballs, some smashed in half to reveal jagged edges.
“This is a hard day,” Mr. Daugherty said to no one in particular.
Each push of Mr. Daugherty’s broom made the glass crinkle. But the broom couldn’t remove the heavy stench of spilled gasoline, couldn’t undo the thousands of angry Penn State students who surged into the downtown’s tight web of streets after the university’s board of trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno with a phone call late Wednesday.
Retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s indictment by a grand jury Nov. 4 on 40 counts of child sex abuse plunged this central Pennsylvania town’s postcard streets into chaos and dragged down Mr. Paterno, the university’s beloved coach since 1966, along with university President Graham Spanier.
Streetlights toppled. Students tipped a truck from WTAJ-TV onto its side and smashed its windows. The baseball-sized rocks pelted police. White clouds of mace from state troopers in riot gear burned eyes as they floated through the intersection of McAllister Street and Beaver Avenue. The students’ roar sounded like the ocean as it echoed through the streets until rain helped break up the riots around 2 a.m.
Nine hours later, in front of 21 television cameras and one police officer in Beaver Stadium’s media room, Tom Bradley was introduced as Penn State’s interim coach. At the university as a player and coach since 1975, the 55-year-old fought tears as he called Mr. Paterno one of history’s “greatest men.”
The interim athletic director, Mark Sherburne — taking over for Tim Curley, who was charged with perjury in connection with the case — stared at a piece of paper on the blue table in front of him and mentioned the “adversity” the football team faces.
Neither man mentioned that Mr. Paterno did not alert police after a graduate assistant, according to the indictment, witnessed Mr. Sandusky engaged in a sex act with a 10-year-old boy in a university shower in 2002. Neither mentioned the mob of students embracing Mr. Paterno’s modest home Tuesday night as he led them in cheers of “We are Penn State” and told the board of trustees that it had more important matters than his job security. Students retreated to the same cheer during the riot, between choruses of “[Forget] the media” and “We want JoePa.”
Four minutes into the 26-minute news conference Thursday, one local reporter asked Mr. Bradley who would start at quarterback Saturday against Nebraska.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” a reporter from a national outlet replied loudly.
Queried about Mr. Sandusky a half-dozen times, Mr. Bradley glanced at what appeared to be a cue card in his right hand before saying he wasn’t allowed to speak about the case. Mr. Bradley testified before the grand jury and isn’t prevented from speaking about the case. University counsel told him not to comment, Mr. Bradley eventually acknowledged. The coach maintained that he wasn’t aware of the 2002 incident or a 1998 police investigation of Mr. Sandusky regarding alleged inappropriate behavior around children.
No more questions about the starting quarterback followed, as Mr. Bradley outlined plans to hold together a reeling program.
The Penn State graduate bought the Tavern, a few doors down, in 1980. The restaurant is as familiar to folks here as Mr. Paterno.