Jerry Sandusky could have been Maryland's coach

Penn State, the State College community and the stunned sporting world outside of the Happy Valley bubble is reeling from the sex abuse allegations involving the school's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.

Meanwhile, some folks in College Park are understandably thinking, "That could have happened here."

In December 1991, the University of Maryland had interest in hiring Sandusky -- who coached the defense at Linebacker U when now-embattled head coach Joe Paterno won two national titles in the 1980s -- to become the Terps’ head coach. Sandusky, who wanted to remain at Penn State, declined an opportunity to interview.

When Maryland fired the guy who ended up getting the job, Mark Duffner, five years later, Sandusky changed his tune and expressed an interest in stepping out from behind Paterno’s shadow and coaching the Terps.

"I put forward a plan a few years ago for Maryland," he told Paul McMullen of The Baltimore Sun. "Andy Geiger [then the athletic director] called to see if I would interview for the job. I debated and debated, and even though I had put together that plan, I didn't follow through. Being a head coach is something I'd like to do. I've been at that stage for a long time. I look at Maryland as a great opportunity, and I would be interested."

But Ron Vanderlinden was eventually hired to be Maryland’s football coach before the 1997 season.

And, as an entire nation of disgusted college football fans are aware, Sandusky stayed at Penn State.

Sandusky, 67, who retired in 1999, was arrested Saturday on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. With rumors swirling that Paterno would be forced to step down, Paterno’s weekly news conference was canceled. Paterno’s son, Scott, said the decision was made by Penn State president Graham Spanier.

In a phone interview with The Washington Times on Monday night, Geiger, the former Maryland athletic director, said, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I’m sitting in my living room shaking, I’m so appalled.”

That’s an emotion most of us are experiencing, but relief is one the College Park community can feel, too.

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