UCLA has a proud legacy and tradition of moral clarity, of moral righteousness, of doing what was right even when it was difficult to do so. This was a campus that was home to Jackie Robinson, that was home to Ralph Bunche, that was home to Arthur Ashe - this was a campus that worshiped at the altar of John Wooden. This was a campus, that with her University of California brethren, divested from South Africa to help end apartheid, a campus where young men like Kenny Washington could not only get an education, but get to wear his school's colors on the fields of friendly strife - at a time where his fellow African-Americans were often denied the most basic civil rights in most of this country.
That is the legacy of UCLA - and yet, we find ourselves dangerously close to hiring a man connected to the most reprehensible, most disgusting, most shockingly callous cover-up in collegiate sports - not a cover-up to conceal pay-for-play schemes, not a cover-up to keep a coach's affair under wraps, hell, not even a cover-up to conceal gambling or point shaving. Tom Bradley, the last defensive coordinator Joe Paterno ever had, is rumored to be Jim Mora's next defensive coordinator - a man with a connection to the Penn State football program while the systematic cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's heinous sexual crimes against children was on-going.
Let that sink in for a minute.
As our friends at Black Shoe Diaries once wrote in considering Bradley for the permanent head coaching job in Happy Valley:
The elephant in the room, however, is what he may or may not have known about the Sandusky Scandal. Bradley roomed with Mike McQueary for a while, and was obviously in a close working relationship to Sandusky himself. Sure it's possibly Bradley just kept his blinders on and didn't know anything about the unspeakable acts going on; but..................(my point exactly).
We are not in a court of law. I don't need to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt as to whether Bradley knew or didn't know what was happening. And this is something so morally reprehensible, so viscerally jarring - I had to return from my Bruins Nation sabbatical to comment on this potential hire. I ask this: just be intellectually honest with yourself. Instead of snapping to the defense of Mora or UCLA, just - honestly - ask yourself if you really believe that a man who worked with Sandusky closely for decades, who was roommates with the whistle-blower who caught Sandusky, who himself caught Sandusky showering with a child, really did not know what was happening. If you honestly believe Bradley was in the dark, I wish I could share in your naivete - but the reality is that exculpating Bradley just doesn't pass the laugh test, at least not in my opinion.
Even if, for the sake of argument, you set aside whether he really did or did not know what was happening - is it worth the risk? It is worth the damaging association with the most vile, disgusting collegiate cover-up in history?
We all love Scrap. But is his potential, possibly yet-to-be-discovered baggage too much of a risk for Penn State to take right now? What if it comes out in another six, eight, 12 months that Bradley did in fact know something about Sandusky? That would be like a double-tap nuking of Happy Valley. There would be no Penn State after that. Just a warm glass plain between Philly and Pittsburgh.
And those words are coming from Penn State fans who see Bradley as one of their own - as a beloved former player and long-time assistant coach. These aren't fans of some other program who are down on Bradley for his Penn State ties - no, these words of caution were written by the fans who loved and praised his decades of loyalty. If any group of people were going to open Tom Bradley with open arms, it would be Penn State fans - and yet, even they raise the cautionary flags.
If nothing else, consider the timeline of events. One of Sandusky's victims, identified as "Victim 4" testified that "[t]here was one time that Coach Bradley had come in [to the showers], and I can't say what his thoughts were, but I think he was suspicious because he stayed int he shower until we left." According to the investigation, both by the Pennsylvania authorities, and retired FBI director Louis Freeh, "Victim 4" was sexually assaulted by Sandusky between October 1996 to December 2000. Even if you give Bradley the benefit of the doubt that he observed Sandusky in the shower with a minor (which, I'm sorry, is just simply weird, creepy, and a major red flag to any normal person that something illegal is happening, just happened, or is about to happen) at the end of that period of time (so around late 2000), that means he was potentialy silent for almost a decade. Silence in the face of that kind of unspeakable evil - of letting a grotesque child molester get away with his heinous crimes - is so morally reprehensible, there are no words that do the concept justice.
Let's assume, just for the sake of argument, that Tom Bradley was completely in the dark about the entire Sandusky scandal, that he did absolutely nothing wrong, and that he was completely innocent of any wrongdoing - both legally and morally. Again, is it worth the risk to UCLA? Is it worth the damage to UCLA's image and reputation of the connection to the most reprehensible scandal in collegiate athletics history? Does UCLA really want to tie itself to someone who will never be able to escape the shadow of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal?
It is simply par for the course for Gene Block and Dan Guerrero. First, they brought in Steve Alford to inherit John Wooden's hoops program - they brought in a mediocre basketball coach with major character flaws, who openly questioned the veracity of a sexual assault victim, who allegedly pressured that victim to drop charges against one of his players, and who publicly proclaimed the innocence of a man who would later plead to sexual assault offenses. It's bad enough that someone as disgusting and morally vile as Steve Alford is associated with UCLA - a man who refused to apologize for how he handled the Pierre Pierce incident at Iowa for over a decade until forced to do so - but now UCLA is preparing to associate itself to a defensive coordinator who will forever be stuck in the long shadow cast by Jerry Sandusky?
Is there no moral line that Gene Block and Dan Guerrero will not cross? The hiring of any coach from Joe Paterno's staff during the years that Jerry Sandusky was sexually assaulting children demonstrates that UCLA has completely lost its moral compass.
In short, under Gene Block and Dan Guerrero, UCLA has become completely morally bankrupt. The institution that once boasted of its connection to people like Jackie Robinson and John Wooden, is going to employ not just an alleged rape apologist as its head basketball coach, but a defensive coordinator with deep ties to Penn State and Jerry Sandusky.
If this is what UCLA has become about - if this is the kind of people UCLA is willing to employ - count me out as a Bruin. Instead of being a proud alum, I will be just another number, another person with a fancy looking piece of paper in a frame on an office wall - and I will root against the Bruins at every opportunity, at every level, in every sport.
There are moral lines to draw - lines that are deeper and more important than where you happened to go to college, or which teams you support. This is one of those lines. If UCLA is okay with associating with people like Steve Alford and Tom Bradley - demonstrating moral bankruptcy - then I am no longer okay with associating with UCLA.
This will be Gene Block and Dan Guerrero's legacy - destroying UCLA's once proud legacy of moral leadership. How sad that it has come to this.