All That You Can't Leave Behind

By Ramzy Nasrallah on July 17, 2012 at 10:00a
60 Comments

Sixteen years ago my buddy Bruce and I were in London at a pub in Leicester Square drinking beer the way it was intended to be consumed: In broad damn daylight on a weekday while suckers were working.

At some point during our bar conversation a trio of fine British ladies - one at a time, girls - picked up on our distinct American accents and came over to further investigate. Moments later we were all having pints together.

"So where do you live in America?" Asked the second-most interesting one, whose name might have been Hazel.

"We live in Chicago," Bruce replied. And that was the truth. We could have said that we lived in TriBeCa or Beverly Hills or had some other clever fake backstory that might have been more fun, but we went with reality.

The response was, well, unexpected. Hazel made finger guns and started laughing.

"Chicago!" She said, furrowing her brow. "Capone! Bang bang!"

At that moment Alphonse Gabriel Capone, the notorious Depression-era gangster and bootlegger had been dead for nearly 50 years, over twice as long as I had been alive. It was 1996 and it took Hazel and her friends inside of five seconds to hear Chicago and immediately think of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.

For a few of the ten-plus years that I lived there, my apartment was only a few yards away from where the massacre took place. I rarely ever thought about it. Chicago is a world-class metropolis that's impossible to properly characterize succinctly because the city has way too much going on, and it did then too. 

That year the Bulls won the NBA title following the return of Michael Jordan, the most popular athlete in the world. Oprah was at the height of her worldwide popularity. The city was 160 years old - a baby by European standards - and had famously burned to the ground before building itself back up into the fourth-largest GDP on the planet.

Regardless: Capone! Bang bang!

A lifetime of achievement cratered by felonious narcissism.

We took no offense to the display, and our stubborn refusal to be ugly Americans kept us from countering with a condescending reenactment of Lord Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. And even more importantly: Nice-looking girls bearing pints.

But this is part of how human brains break down subject matter, through basic word association. It's the way by which three English girls were able to quickly process an American city they had never seen.

It's not terribly dissimilar from the reason strangers still exuberantly make comments about tattoos when the subject of Ohio State arises - an easy, somewhat recent association - though freshness, as is the case with Capone, isn't required. Hey, did you hear that Woody Hayes once punched a kid?

About 15 years ago Ohio State provided a different kind of negative association against its academic integrity, via football - the easiest OSU association to make. The Buckeyes were the consensus preseason #1 team in the first-ever BCS campaign and Sports Illustrated assigned an asterisk to its top ranking, basing it on Andy Katzenmoyer's pending eligibility.

Katzenmoyer's eligibility cocktail, as it turned out, was a summer GPA-booster that included Golf, Music Appreciation and AIDS: What Every College Student Should Know (that Golf class was over-registered, but Katzenmoyer was conveniently squeezed onto the roster right before the term started).

Loading up on cake courses is hardly an exclusively-Ohio State eligibility phenomenon, but Katzenmoyer was regularly a sub-2.0 student and the twilight of the John Cooper era saw numerous players failing to stay academically afloat on an annual basis.

He ended up making the grade after winning the Butkus the previous season and was a first-team All American linebacker. But the damage was done: Golf, Music Appreciation and AIDS Awareness. There probably wasn't a single bar in Chicago that televised Buckeye games that season where opposing fans wouldn't joyfully announce Katzenmoyer's summer class schedule, unsolicited.

Katzenmoyer's classes that summer term had as much to do with any Ohio State graduate's academic record as Capone's murder sprees had to do with any Chicago inhabitants in 1996. It didn't matter.

The association had already been baked and served. The entire episode made it feel like all Ohio State degrees were being publicly devalued. Now Penn State's stakeholders are only at the beginning of being dragged down by the duplicitous actions of a few exquisitely morally bankrupt men.

The association is impossible to dodge, even for the innocent. When the Nittany Lions won their two national titles under Joe Paterno, the football team wasn't the only national champion: Those same stakeholders who are now burdened with Penn State's toxic reputation were champions too.

They celebrated those victories as their own. Thousands of Penn State alumni now find themselves with degrees that carry Graham Spanier's signature. His is among the surnames that are now toxic from this affair.

Every single time he - or Gary Schultz, or Tim Curley, or Paterno - laid eyes on Jerry Sandusky for at least 13 years they knew they were looking at a child rapist. They knew it whenever he visited the locker room, they knew it each time he took little boys on bowl trips after he retired from coaching and they knew it while they all lied about it to investgators.

One summer term transformed Ohio State into a diploma mill.

Unfortunately, that's the entire back row of the Penn State chessboard; the power pieces that can make all the moves. The pawns that are either mortified by the revelations or refuse to believe they're true are just as affected, short of impending criminal charges.

That impacts everyone who carries the Penn State flag, regardless of the fact that only a fraction of a percent of its stakeholders knew the horrible truth.

I never took any of Katzenmoyer's summer courses at Ohio State, but I did have football players in my classes. I had Political Science with Butler By'not'e and Economics with Cedric Saunders - both during the summer term, when eligibility elixirs are administered, apparently. There are much easier ways to inflate grades.

And there are virtuous, ethical and transparent Penn State administrators and stakeholders who are now forced to wear Penn State's shame. Unborn students will do the same decades from now. The staying power of Katzenmoyer's cupcake summer has a fruit fly's lifespan by comparison.

Penn State won't stop doing great things, regardless of how devastating the impact of this scandal hits its institutional health. Few institutions conduct more valuable research and no student body anywhere attends to a larger philanthropic initiative.

But those basic associations are either already taken or don't stick nearly as well as the unsavory ones do. Penn State is now the place where protecting a football program and old man's legacy clearly and overtly took precedent over children being repeatedly raped on its premises for at least a decade.

As with Hazel and her British lady friends, it will take many people inside of five seconds to hear Penn State and immediately think of the Sandusky tragedy. It's not that different from the way that for some Chicago will always be a gangster's paradise.

Back in 2003 Paterno brought WR Tony Johnson and LB Gino Capone to represent his team at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago. He was prepared with a crowd-pleasing basic association for the podium, telling the thousands in attendance, "do you guys realize that I brought a Capone to Chicago?"

The crowd roared in appreciation. "After this," he continued, "we're going to Cicero!"

It's an easy connection to make even decades later. And that's a grim sentence that faultless Penn Staters will be serving for life.

60 Comments

Comments

Ethos's picture

Very well written Ramzy, as usual.

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

ArTbkward's picture

I saw a tweet yesterday that mentioned Butler By'not'e would be mentioned in today's post.  I wondered how that was going to work, now I know.
I also like the shoutout to U2.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...
(Also, I'm not a dude)

buckeyedude's picture

Do you ever get tired of hearing what a great writer you are Ramzy?
Don't forget also that the good people of Sandusky, Ohio, are suffering the backlash from this whole thing.

 

 

michaec5's picture

True, but you guys do have Cedar Point.

~michaec5

zbd's picture

Just like Kent State is connected to the Nation Guard killing students, Minnesota with basketball muggings, Bobby Knight tossing chairs.  Penn State will be connected with pedophile enablers for a long time.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

SMU with the death penalty, Miami and rogue boosters, Ramzy and fantastic writing,  they are all synonymous with each other.   

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

gumtape's picture

Well done. I was in summer classes with Greg Bellisari, an upper level biology course. He was thinking of life after football and it showed.

just another psycho, irrational, delusional Ohio St fan

DCBuckeyeFille's picture

I was in an Intermediate Microeconomics class with Nugent after he played a season in the NFL with the Jets. I was quite impressed that someone who had so much already assured in the bank still cared about getting his OSU degree.

AJBor41's picture

I'd like that story more if I were able to remove the Nugent association already cemented in my brain of him introducing himself to girls at bars (Brothers in particular) as "Mike Nugent, Kicker, Ohio State"... nevertheless, that's great to see.

SLVRBLLTS's picture

Can't say I wouldn't do the same if I were him.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

btalbert25's picture

Isn't it sad that Nugent was the best offensive player we had for a couple of years, and he STILL had to introduce himself to people.  He was a celebrity and chicks at the bar still didn't know who he was.  Think Troy Smith ever needed to announce to chicks who he was?

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I took some absolute BS class about sports and fans or whatever with Terrelle Pryor, and I think Lamar Thomas was also in that class.  This was right after the Fiesta Bowl loss to Texas, Winter quarter '09 I think.  Also, my last quarter I was in a business class with Mark Titus.
I feel so young compared to those of you that had classes with Nuuuge or players of the '90s.

Class of 2010.

William's picture

Sport for the Spectator? I'll be taking that this semester. I had a bio class with Amir Williams last quarter, which was a joke. Williams seemed like a nice guy, and was really quiet. 

OSUNeedles's picture

My wife was in the AIDS class that summer with Katzenmoyer & interacted with him a bit (he was friends with her roomate). I asked her about him & her response was, "he wasn't the brightest guy, but he was great at something. How many people can truly say they are great at anything?" It sort of shifted my view because the system forces kids who are great at something to perform in an area that they might not be able to succeed. This can cause some to fail, and cause growth in others.

GreatLakesBeer's picture

I wont say his name but a former buckeye that played with andy was in police acamedy taught by my dad. This was after the player spent a few years playing in the NFL. Anyways i got a chance to speak with him and he didnt have anything good to say about andy, even saying he once punched Andy for not giving a sick kid an autograph

If you will it dude, it is no dream

BrewstersMillions's picture

Really good stuff here. Buckeyedude, when I read your post about Sandusky, OH I was ready to say "ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME" but as soon as you think about it, you are sort of spot on. Its really hard for your mind not to jump to Jerry when you say the name. Odd how it works, as Ramzy pointed out with his Capone\Hazel story.
I'd be really interested in seeing just how many recruits over the last 15 years went to Penn State instead of Ohio State or Michigan or Notre Dame based soley off of the reputation Joe Paterno sold said recruit\his parents. Some really really really excellent football players played for PSU in the last 15 years and I'd be willing to bet a LOT of them bought into the Penn State way. I wonder how that program would have fared if the truth about this school was known then as opposed to now-where Penn State recruiting hasn't suffered because they now have a new regime at the school. Just some food for thought.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

southbymidwest's picture

I have wondered that about the recruits also, especially since I would have to imagine a number of idealistic young recruits were attracted to/bought into the success with honor/white hat/good guys ideals that the program promoted. Can't imagine that all of them would still want to be part of that had they known the real story.

BrewstersMillions's picture

A lot of two player swings took place. I know its not as cut and dry but lets look at it this way. Once PSU joined the Big Ten, they immediately inserted themselves into a lot of conference title races. As we all know, the conference championship generally goes through Ann Arbor or Columbus-usually both. If guys are good enough to go to PSU, they are good enough to play for Michigan and OSU. I don't think its too far to say some players that went to PSU maybe go to PSU's biggest rivals in the conference instead. But, by going to PSU said good player effectively makes a rival less talented while making the lions MORE talented. Some of these talent swings may have been negated had these kids known what the Penn State way really was back when they were being recruited (Conceivably) by Jim Tressel\John Cooper, Lloyd Carr, and Joe Paterno. Not saying this happened everytime PSU won out on a recruit but I have to imagine the Big Ten's elite lost out on some talent because of the deceptive nature of Penn State's image. Again, making them a little less talented and PSU a little more talented.
No competitive advantage though, Skip Bayless....none what so ever.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

bassplayer7770's picture

I also recall seeing a pic of a letter to a recruit from McQueary emphasizing their "good" reputation, but I don't recall which recruit received that letter.

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

I believe you're referring to this, which was sent to Anzalone:

Ramzy posted the article here:
 http://www.elevenwarriors.com/blogs/ramzy/selling-penn-state-to-alex-anzalone#comment-202295

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

buckeyedude's picture

There was an article written in the Toledo Blade about the "association" with Jerry Sandusky, and Sandusky, Ohio.
Ridiculous, I know, but people(very stupid people) were making the connection. I'll see if I can find the link.
update: nevermind. It ain't worth the effort.

 

 

Boxley's picture

As always Sir, a pleasure to read in print what your mind has poured out today.
I have been going back and forth with a poster on Bucknuts, Sunday's Bucket of Bullets column, about this toxic issue. The gentlemen I was debating with firmly believes PSU talk about the death penalty is being cast about by those with the , and I quote "hoods and pitchforks crowd" mentality and that the PSU child rape and cover up scandal has no connection with the football program.
I am curious as to your opinion on whether or not you think they should receive any penalties along those lines. I do realize that all of the criminals (currently known about) are no longer working for PSU.
 
 
 
 
 

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

southbymidwest's picture

Had a senior level marketing class with Tom Cousineau- not only did he wear leather pants to class, but he just oozed confidence and magnetism. He definitely had the swaggernaut thing  going on. He was a pretty smart guy, also. 
Oh, and Ramzy, wonderful article as always. A+++++++++.

Mark's picture

I had an Arts class (Arts College 160 or 161...something like that?) with Treg Lee.  He was in my "mandatory" study class that met once a week.  I recall him being there once.

Pam's picture

I had a class with Archie my freshman (remedial math!) . You learned not to sit behind him or you couldn't see the board with his big ass afro and all.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Pictures of Archie in the fro days always make me laugh. I wonder if it's a source of amusement for his family?

Pam's picture

Well, it is a source of amusement for my family to see pics of me back then with bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirts.  I bet the fro pics get the same reaction

gunni070's picture

Great article as usual!  I guess the bigger question in all of this is whether or not either of you closed the deal with the girls in the bar. haha

Maestro's picture

I do feel badly for the good Penn State fans which I am sure way outnumber the clowns.  People like M1EK can suck it though.  I hope they cry themselves to sleep on their NCAA-violation-free pillows for quite a while.

vacuuming sucks

BrewstersMillions's picture

Statistically speaking, I would love to think you are right. There has to be more good than bad....but Penn State might be bucking the trend here. Now, I'm willing to accept the idea that the bad ones are making the most noise because the 'good' PSU fans don't really have much to say and may just be accepting their beloved schools new reputation. With that said there are a lot of awful Penn State fans saying a lot of awful things. Look at their shamefull response to the renaming of Paternoville. This has crossed over from me to bordering on the cult like to Penn State being a full blown cult run by Joe Paterno, even in death. Each day a large group of people do something else to embarass themselves as fans. They are the single most disgusting group of fans this side of Ukranian Soccer fans. I can not believe what I read\see\hear almost daily.
 

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Maestro's picture

I guess I just have stayed away from BSD enough to still believe there are good PSUers.

vacuuming sucks

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

It'll get worse when Dohrmann's story makes the cover of SI and we find out how deep the child molestation cover-up went. Oh wait, no raffles were rigged? Never mind.

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

chibuck's picture

Funny, I heard the same things about Chicago when traveling throughout Europe in 2005. I think Michael Jordan helped create a new image however. At least it was one more person known for being from Chicago.

btalbert25's picture

The irony of all this is, if Paterno and company would of just stepped up to the plate in 98, got rid of Sandusky and kept him away from the program after they kicked him to the curb, they could be a shining example.  Yeah, we had this guy, and something horrible happened, but that's not how we operate at Penn State, we don't tolerate stuff like this, he's gone.  There may have been a little bit of negative publicity and a small hit to the program, but in the long run, who wouldn't want their kids to go play for Penn State. Joe Pa would of had his long history of philanthropy and setting the right example for the 1000's of kids who played for him, AND they can say look at this, he was our friend and a damn good coach and we cut him loose because he clearly doesn't live the Penn State Way. The image of the university, the brand, and JoePa, could of been so much better had they just done the right thing from the start.  I always respected JoePa before all this crap came out, if he would of stepped up in 98 and done the right thing from the word go, my goodness my admiration for him would be off the charts. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

I agree. Now, of course, they are a shining example of another kind...

BrewstersMillions's picture

You know what's a scarier thought? Imagine if Jerry Sandusky died in, say, 2004? Before any of this ever came to light. Imagine how great people would have thought he was for all of the 'good' he did through Second Mile. Hard to say it ever comes out given the events that actually lead to Ganim uncovering this mess.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Thinking about the scenario you presented above pretty much just made my head explode. 

btalbert25's picture

Good point.  I also wonder how long this crap went on before 98 when the first complaint came about.  I can't imagine that one day in 98 when he was in his 50's Sandusky just started "horsing around".  Were there other victims and incidents that just got burried along the way?  I know there's no evidence to suggest otherwise, but my goodness this crap could of been going on for a decade before any complaints were ever made in 98.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Reports are trickling out that allegations go back as far as the 70's, I wonder how much weight that carries. I agree with you though-everything people know about this sort of sickness would say its not something Jerry just started doing. I don't think its a stretch to assume he's shattered 100's of lives.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Maestro's picture

Gerdeman had an excellent tweet last week that I RT.  It said something to the effect of "I can't believe that Sandusky suddenly became a pedophile in 1998."  The guy obviously had his sickness for a long time, perhaps his entire adult life.  God only knows how many people were abused.

vacuuming sucks

Doc's picture

Well said BT.  It is a great example of doing the right thing from the beginning.  A lesson we should all learn.  Covering things up and lying makes everything worse.

"Say my name."

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Enough of this football and Chicago gangster stuff - how did you guys finish with the 3 ladies?

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

It's a family site. America was well-represented.

Chris Lauderback's picture

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!!!!!!!!

Irricoir's picture

That is some funny shit right there. I can't even filter my own language for laughing so hard.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Way to take one for the team!!!  Nicely done sir!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

buckeye76BHop's picture


NICE!
 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

osuguy2008's picture

Katzenmoyer won Butkus in '97, not '98

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Corrected. Hat tip to you, the people who actually filled out the site contact form, Twitter followers and emailers. Nothing gets past you guys - thank you for keeping 11W safe. /bows

buckeyefanatic's picture

5 minutes ago I enjoyed this article while drinking a beer in broad damn daylight while my sucker co-workers were, well, working.  @flyingsauceradd #ufoclub

How many batteries does it take to beat Michigan football?   1AA
Want to beat Michigan? There's an App for that.

NC_Buckeye's picture

That wouldn't happen to be the Flying Saucer in downtown Raleigh, would it?

schooey's picture

I think it is a stretch to say that they gained an unfair advantage in recruiting. Because, as well stated by others above, if it had been dealt with appropriately they would have kept their reputation and it probably would have had very little impact on recruiting. There also likely would have been no NCAA penalties, and I believe bowl bans and so forth are worse for recruiting than tarnished reputations. Tattgate did not hurt our recruiting as much as more bowl bans would have done. So, I think that the PSU recruiting would have been the same either way. Or, it is simply too nebulous of a "what if" for the NCAA to go there. (Of course I could be wrong, we'll see). 
I would think that as things stand now, their recruiting was/will be hurt far far more than would have been had they outed Sandusky immediately. So, if there could be made a case that the cover-up somehow helped recruiting, it could also be that the blow-back on recruiting from this scandal will far outweigh any theoretical advantage they gained. 
Emmert said they are taking nothing of the table. I suppose loss of institutional control would be the big one they could go on, but he made it clear that they do not see a precedent here, so anybody's guess. He also said that even though it involved football it went beyond it as well, and that there will be a determination of violations. That leads me to believe that they want leave the more hienous criminal aspects aside and focus solely on the coverup. (Which I stated elsewhere is their appropriate role the matter, in my opinion.)
I don't know about "good and bad" Pennstaters but I assume that most are of the opinion that 98% of the school was innocent to the crimes being committed and thus should be exempt from punishment. The criminals will be punished by the courts and the damage already inflicted upon the institution is great. So, I don't blame them for hoping that the NCAA does not extend its powers into punishments for crimes that in Emmert's words "go beyond football".
Not to say that the NCAA won't find some violations. I suspect bowl bans etc. but not a death penalty. 

schooey's picture

With regard to the Capone theme and the Penn State scandal, "snitches get stitches". Just kidding. 

Olemissbuckeye's picture

Its amazing the sea lawyering going on at BSD. It is also ironic to see how many people are citing all the great work that Joe Pa did for players, the school, and the community and how unfair it is to paint his image based upon the Sandusky scandal. They seem to object to his career being depicted as one long fraudulent abuse of power. Did they have that perspective with any other coaches we know?

This black mark won' t come off of the program for a long long time, if ever. The same short sightedness and distorted perception of reality got to Joe too, but with truly tragic consequences.
If absolute power corrupts absolutely, CFB fans everywhere should be concerned about the cults of personality that we foster.

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

A lifetime of good deeds cannot cancel out an evil act. It just doesnt work that way. I dont really care what he did for his players, communities, ect: the benefits of his 'good acts' were financed by the innocence of others.
 

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

btalbert25's picture

In my opinion neither cancels eachother out.  There's no scale, 1 cover up for this victim, well 20 kids saved balances it out.  He's not either a saint or a scumbag, to some he was both.  I'm not agreeing with the BSD folks who are trying to protect his image.  I'm just saying, while we can absolutely agree that the victims who suffered because of the coverup should view him as a villain, there are many lives he saved or kids he postively impacted that would say the man was great.  So, we can acknowledge that the man was both. 
That's why I'm convinced that leaving the statue up is a good thing, but add to the plaque at the base of it.  This is a monument to the man who was a key into building this institution into what it is today, and he was also the man whose inaction helped destroy it.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Great article with good comparisons but the best part was you met pretty girls in London.  A couple frat brothers went abroad my Jr year and said it was difficult to find attractive girls where they were (It may have been London but can only remember it was in England somewhere...you know...college;-).  Not sure where exactly but they said it was a lot of pretty faces with bad teeth once they smiled.  They saw a few that weren't sporting austin powers teeth but for the most part that's what they encountered.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Hamsterdam's picture

Most amazing piece of this article: There's an attractive girl named "Hazel" out there somewhere.
Just kidding. Good piece. I emailed it to a number of friends.

Hamsterdam's picture

There are a TON of attractive girls from England/Scotland/Wales living in Columbus right now. Most work in fashion industry (Abercrombie or Limited) and live downtown. Go to Bodega on any given night and you'll find a handful. This is a pretty creepy comment post, my apologies.