Joe Paterno's family will seek its own 'comprehensive review' of the Freeh report

The "Joe Paterno is a sainted icon" vs. the "Joe Paterno kept quiet about sexual abuse so as to avoid bad PR" battle keeps providing one side with more and more ammunition.

Paterno's family announced on Monday it would seek a "comprehensive review" of the investigation conducted by Louis Freeh into the Jerry Sandusky morass.

In a statement, the family wrote, "To those who are convinced that the Freeh report is the last word on this matter, that is absolutely not the case. Since various investigations and legal cases are still pending, it is highly likely that additional critical information will emerge."

Remember, the Freeh Report was an independent investigation. But the Paterno family wrote that it was "dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by

which they were developed by the Freeh Group. Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts. We believe numerous issues in the report, and his commentary, bear further review."

The family also wrote that "we are going to be as thorough as reasonably possible. In the meantime, our attorneys have asked that we not make any further comment on this matter until they are ready to provide an update on their progress."

Hmm – so let's get this straight: A family whose patriarch's reputation forever was sullied is going to provide an independent review of, well, an independent review?

Isn't it interesting that the family's statement was released two days after the New York Times reported that Paterno began negotiating a buyout of his contract with the school last January? That, of course, is the same month he testified before a grand jury about Sandusky.

Paterno's contract was set to end after the 2012 season. But the paper reported that Paterno agreed last August to a deal whereby he would be paid $3 million when he stepped down at the end of the 2011 season; in addition, $350,000 in loans the school had made to Paterno would be forgiven.

After Sandusky was arrested, Paterno on Nov. 9 famously said he would step down at the end of the 2011 season. "At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status," he said. "They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can." Instead, he was fired that night.

The Times story points out Paterno long before had signed off on the deal when he said he would step down.

The school eventually paid about $5.5 million to the family. Maybe relatives can use some of that on their review of the Freeh Report.

Grid bits

• ESPN pays $125 million annually to televise the BCS championship game. Sports Business Journal reported Monday that the network will pay $80 million a year to televise the Rose Bowl beginning in 2014, the first season of the playoff. That's an increase of $50 million from ESPN's current deal with the Rose Bowl.

• The Big East and Syracuse jointly released a statement Monday saying the school officially would leave for the ACC after the 2012-13 school year. That had been the assumption all along, but now it's official. Look for some kind of similar statement soon from the league and Pittsburgh. Interim Big East commissioner Joe Bailey in the Syracuse statement: "This closes a chapter and opens a new one filled with exciting possibilities for the Big East's future. With the recent addition of eight schools to the Big East, the future for the Conference has never been brighter." Not to be cynical, but come on: Do people in the Big East even believe that?

• When it was announced late last month that there would indeed be a selection committee that would choose the four teams that will be involved in a playoff, a lot of folks associated with the Big Ten and Pac-12 seemed quite smug when it also was announced that strength of schedule would be a key component used in the selection process. Those leagues had made a big deal of an agreement reached in December, whereby each Pac-12 school would play a Big Ten team in non-conference games beginning in 2017; administrators from both leagues talked about that plan ad nauseum last month. Alas, it's over before it even started: Late last week, the leagues announced they had killed the agreement. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: "The Pac-12 came to the conclusion that it's in our best interests to maintain our nine-game conference schedule and maximum flexibility in out-of-conference scheduling." Somewhere, Mike Slive is chuckling.

• Auburn (Ala.) High LB Reuben Foster is the No. 2 recruit nationally in the 2013 class, and last week he switched his commitment from Alabama to Auburn. Presumably, this commitment will stick: The Birmingham (Ala.) News reported that Foster recently got an Auburn logo tattooed on his forearm.

• Tennessee true freshman WR Alton Howard had foot surgery Friday and likely is out for at least two months. Howard wasn't likely to play a big role this fall, but we bring this up because we like his nickname. It's "Pig." A wide receiver who goes by "Pig." Awesome.

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