SI Vault
 
Last Call
Jack McCallum
December 20, 1999
Jerry Sandusky, the dean of Linebacker U, is leaving Penn State after 32 years to devote himself to a different kind of coaching
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 20, 1999

Last Call

Jerry Sandusky, the dean of Linebacker U, is leaving Penn State after 32 years to devote himself to a different kind of coaching

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

That nose has not been in Sandusky's defensive business nearly as much as it has been in the offensive business conducted by coordinator Fran Gantner. "I bug Jerry," says Paterno, "but I drive Fran absolutely nuts." Sandusky concedes that he could not have worked under the same conditions as Gantner, who turned down the head job at Michigan State in '94 to continue sharing the headphones with Joe Pa. "I'm in a zone during a game," says Sandusky. "I wouldn't want Joe in that zone with me."

Still, Paterno is the boss—Sandusky doesn't expect Paterno to solicit his opinion about who should follow him as coordinator—and no doubt part of Sandusky's reason for retiring is that he's tired of being second banana. He's not even coy about his desire still to run a program, any program, perhaps a Division III team or, don't laugh, a midget league basketball team. Sandusky's parents, Art and Evie, ran a recreation center in Washington, Pa., and at heart, E.J. says, Sandusky is "a frustrated playground director." E.J. remembers the kickball games his father organized in the backyard. "Dad would get every single kid involved," says E.J. "We had the largest kickball games in the United States, kickball games with 40 kids."

Says Millen, "A lot of people were surprised when Jerry said he was retiring. Me? I was surprised he stayed that long. Jerry has so many passions and so many gifts besides coaching football—a gift for teaching, a gift for helping, a gift for guiding kids. This is a man with a lot to do."

Here's the best thing you can say about Jerry Sandusky: He's the main reason that Penn State is Linebacker U...and linebackers aren't even his enduring legacy.

1 2