The kids at football camp laughed at The Great Pretenders, sure, but they really wanted to see Spider's Heisman Dance. Even with his frightful wigs and goofy songs, Jerry Sandusky couldn't top that.
How he tried, though. Sandusky would wear a tacky, frizzy-black wig and belt out his rewrite of "Shout:"
Slide a little bit faster now, hit a little bit harder now.
Or he'd find a frilly red mop of hair and do "Chantilly Lace:"
Ain't nothing in the world like a mean linebacker ...
The Great Pretenders -- Sandusky and fellow Penn State assistant football coaches Joe Sarra and Bill Kenney -- tried everything to win the cheers of kids attending their summer football camps. They danced atop a Penn State Blue Band wagon. They squeezed Kenney into a rubber Batman suit -- "It was 85 degrees," Spider said. "Bill was dying in that thing."
They even arrived at football camp in a hearse. Sandusky waved them back to life with a picture of Joe Paterno taped to a stick.
Nevertheless, the kids tired of the shtick and chanted for Spider (assistant equipment manager Brad Caldwell). Spider appeared, dressed as Indiana Jones or Garth Brooks or James Bond, and did his Heisman Dance wearing a leather football helmet. The kids went nuts. Spider won.
Sandusky, whose competitive streak is boundless, could stand it no longer. He needed to beat Spider at least once in these Football Camp Follies. So a few years ago, he asked the local Army National Guard chapter for a favor.
He wanted The Great Pretenders to sing one of their songs -- after leaping from a plane and parachuting into camp.
The National Guard guys didn't go for it. Sandusky was foiled again.
"I would have paid to see that, though," fellow assistant Tom Bradley said. "Knowing those guys, they'd have ended up in Joe (Paterno's) back yard."
Thought you knew Jerry Sandusky, didn't you? He's the white-haired defensive coordinator pacing the Penn State sideline, screaming and frothing. He's the guy with the bulging forehead vein having "discussions" with Paterno.
He's the guy who wrote the book on coaching linebackers -- it's called "Developing Linebackers the Penn State Way" -- and cooked up the defense that won the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. He's the guy who has coached 10 all-America linebackers and, finally this year, a Butkus Award-winner in LaVar Arrington.
He's the guy who, with his wife Dottie, adopted six kids and has cared for countless other foster children. He's the guy who began The Second Mile, an enormous children's outreach program, in his living room 23 years ago.
Now meet Jerry Sandusky, lounge act. He's the guy who concocted The Great Pretenders to entertain attendees at Penn State's summer football camps. He's the guy who takes The Great Pretenders this seriously.
In 1990, 18th-ranked Penn State visited No. 1 Notre Dame. On the team's charter flight to South Bend, Ind., Sandusky wrote intently on a notepad. Last-minute ideas to contain receiver Raghib Ismail or frustrate quarterback Rick Mirer?
Not really. Sandusky got up from his seat to find Caldwell in the back of the plane.
Dec. 27, 1999: There's no pretending: Sandusky is for real
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.