Penn State’s Interim Coach Tom Bradley Gives a Painful Presser

Photo: Reuters/Tim Shaffer

With Penn State coach Joe Paterno officially out, fired by the university’s trustees along with the school’s president Graham Spanier, Tom Bradley has been named interim coach. And among his first pieces of unwanted business (we’re sure) was a press conference this morning where he had basically been advised by legal counsel not to answer any questions about anything the media would be most interested in.

Time and again, Bradley answered queries about the Sandusky child sex abuse case with either a “no comment” because it’s an ongoing investigation or a redirect, stating that whatever issue he was being questioned about — whether the team would play after Saturday, other dismissals, etc — was up to the school’s administration.

When he did respond to questions, they were usually terse attempts at saying as little as possible. About last night’s riots: “I understood there was some activity last night.” About a coach’s responsibility to kids, generally speaking: “We all have a responsibility to take care of children.”

What at first seemed like frustrating evasiveness slowly became kind of dreary.

Bradley said he hadn’t slept, obviously had some very strong emotional ties to Paterno (he declined to answer a question about Paterno because he said it would make him cry), and spoke most forcefully when he talked about the team. At one point, he said today was “Senior Day” at the school and he “the team has put a lot of work in” so “they deserve” to enjoy it.

Towards the end of the presser, reporters obviously tiring of asking the same questions and getting the same non-answers, one member of the media asked when Bradley thought he would be able to get some sleep. In a moment where Bradley allowed himself to be himself, he said, “They told me not to have my usual humor up here but you guys are making me laugh.”

The school was clearly making an attempt to appear more transparent than it has been to this point, but the painful press conference made you feel a little bad for the guy who has to face the media with instructions to not be himself; to be as tight-lipped and difficult as possible even.

Because the story is gripping the nation, of course the presser got a lot of coverage, even with minimal-to-no news coming out of it. But it was clear Bradley hated being there and by the end, you were glad it was over.