Three days after an ESPN Outside the Lines segment questioned whether Joe Paterno had lost control of the Penn State football program, Paterno has booted two trouble-makers off his team.
Defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phil Taylor, both of whom were on probation for their involvement in a fight at the student union last year, were dismissed from the team today.
Paterno will no doubt claim that he came to the decision on his own without outside influence. But the timing makes it rather obvious that the ESPN exposť -- which reported that 46 Nittany Lions have been arrested since 2002 -- forced Paterno to act. Baker and Taylor, who were expected to be key contributors to the defensive line, become the scapegoats.
Paterno had to do something. As he heads into his 43rd, and possibly last, season as Penn State's head coach, the perception that he won't take a firm hand in dealing with players' off-field problems was threatening to tarnish his image.