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Dr. Saturday

Penn State scandal and penalties lead to unfortunate timing of Paterno biography

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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When Joe Posnanski set up shop in State College, Pa., to write a biography of Joe Paterno, the book had every intention of being a feel-good book about the life and career of the football coach who spent nearly 46 years in charge of Penn State's football team.

Now, with the events surrounding the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and Paterno's role in it, any positivity would be disingenuous. The book now titled Paterno, originally scheduled to be released by publisher Simon and Schuster around Father's Day of 2013 has been pushed up to next month.

From the New York Times:

Now Simon & Schuster is limiting interviews with Mr. Posnanski and scaling back a planned book tour. Anne Tate, a spokeswoman for the publisher, said in an e-mail, "We're sensitive about putting our author in forums where he might be viewed as a stand-in for his subject."

Jonathan Karp, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, said in an interview that the release of the Freeh report had complicated matters for the book.

"It's made people angrier at Joe Paterno," he said. "And that has made it a more difficult environment to publish a biography about Joe Paterno."

[Dan Wetzel: NCAA sanctions will cripple Penn State for years]

While Father's Day of next year wouldn't have been an appropriate launch date, given the findings in the Freeh Report and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA on Monday, is there any time in the near future that would be ideal to release a Paterno bio?

Posnanski, the former Kansas City Star and Sports Illustrated columnist who took a job with a USA Today/Major League Baseball Advanced Media joint project in April, was paid a reported $750,000 for the advance on a book that would "have a few O's and almost no X's" per his original proposal.

[Slideshow: Joe Paterno's most notable wins stripped by NCAA sanctions]

That part of the original pitch is likely true -- there's been enough developments to write an entire set of the Encyclopedia Britannica without mentioning any football tactics and strategies. But for Posnanski, author of The Soul of Baseball and The Big Red Machine, to say that the difference from the vision of the book to the reality is a stark contrast would be one of the biggest understatements of the decade. And that puts Posnanski in a precarious spot. How he handles the transition from the original focus to a biography with an ending that no one saw coming 18 months ago will be the only standard on which the book is judged.

After writing about Paterno's final days in January, Posnanski has been mostly silent about the book and its surrounding events since. Earlier in July, he tweeted that "I dedicated myself to write the most honest book I could about Joe Paterno. Everything I have to say about his life is in it."

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