STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Interim Penn State football coach Tom Bradley fought back tears Thursday as he was introduced as Joe Paterno’s replacement.
“Coach Paterno will go down in history as one of the greatest men,” Bradley said. “He’s had such a dynamic impact on so, so — and I’ll say it again — so many people.”
Paterno was fired late Wednesday night via a phone call from the university’s board of trustees because of his role in the Jerry Sandusky child-sex-abuse case. University President Graham Spanier was also removed, in an evening that sparked rioting by thousands of students through the downtown’s tight web of streets.
Penn State’s defensive coordinator since 2000, the 55-year-old Bradley has been at the university as a player or coach since 1975. That period included much of Sandusky’s career. Sandusky was charged last week with 40 counts of sexually abusing children. The scandal cost Paterno his job after coaching the university since 1966.
Bradley repeatedly declined to talk about his relationship with Sandusky, the sex-abuse allegations or his testimony before the grand jury investigating the case. Grand jury witnesses are free to speak about their testimony, and Bradley, who read answers to certain questions from a notecard, admitted he wasn’t speaking at the advice of university lawyers.
Bradley said receivers coach Mike McQueary would coach Saturday against Nebraska, a decision made by interim Athletic Director Mark Sherburne. According to the grand jury’s 23-page indictment, McQueary witnessed Sandusky engaging in a sex act with a boy believed to be 10 years old in a university shower in 2002. McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback, reported the incident to Paterno, but has drawn fire for not going to the police.
McQueary’s dismissal was never considered, Bradley said during the 26-minute press conference at Beaver Stadium.
Bradley maintained he was not aware of the sex-abuse allegations made against Sandusky in 1999 or 2002.