"Hey Spider, look," Sandusky said, thrusting the notepad forward. "I wrote some great new songs. You gotta hear this one." (Penn State, by the way, beat Notre Dame 24-21).
"That's just me," Sandusky said recently. "I haven't even figured me out yet."
This summer, however, he figured out one thing. After 32 years coaching at Penn State, the last 23 as defensive coordinator, Sandusky decided he had to move on. He had given himself fully for 32 years but couldn't guarantee that for the future.
So before his love became his burden, Sandusky announced his retirement from coaching at Penn State. He ends his career Tuesday, when the Lions plays Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl.
Sandusky will devote himself full-time to The Second Mile, which has helped more than 100,000 at-risk kids. He also will volunteer with the athletic department's Lifeskills and Outreach programs.
But the "discussions" with Paterno are over. So are the practice-session tirades. And The Great Pretenders?
"They deserve to be retired," Bradley said.
PLAIN AND PROUD
He had the players spellbound. At the annual Quarterback Club banquet this month, every eye, ear and tear was directed toward Sandusky.
"When someone's talking, players usually lose interest after five minutes," cornerback Bhawoh Jue said. "But I looked around, and everyone just stared at him. Even Joe was choked up."
The evening had been a somber memorial to Penn State's 9-3 season until Sandusky took the podium. Two days earlier, Sandusky learned he was receiving the club's Distinguished Alumni Award. That meant he had to make a speech.
What he delivered was a 15-minute mosaic of his time at Penn State that made players and mothers cry. He wrote the speech in his car outside The Second Mile offices. It just poured out, he said.
"It was so heartfelt, so moving," Paterno said. "It made me feel very proud."
Sandusky began by remembering what drew him to the university in the first place. He came to Penn State in 1962, seeking a place like his home in Washington, Pa.
"When I think of Penn State, I think of the words plain and proud," he said. "These are genuine people with tremendous pride. When they do something, they do it with their heart and soul."
A three-year letterwinner at defensive end, Sandusky left Penn State in 1967 for coaching jobs at Juniata and Boston University. Paterno asked him back in 1969, when Sandusky became a full-time assistant coach.
During his banquet speech, Sandusky mentioned Paterno's first orders: "Steer clear of (linebacker) Jack Ham. You'll mess him up."
Sandusky took over as defensive coordinator in 1977 and also began specializing in linebackers. His work with all-Americans such as John Skorupan, Shane Conlan, Brandon Short, Arrington and, yes, Ham helped earn Penn State its "Linebacker U." nickname.
Fiercely devoted to detail, Sandusky drilled players on alignments, angles and attack points until they grew weary. They hear Sandusky shouting "Stay in the curl" in their sleep.
"I learned almost everything I know about playing linebacker from Jerry," said Short, a first-team all-American.
Dec. 27, 1999: There's no pretending: Sandusky is for real
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