When the sordid details of the sex scandal swirling around Penn State University began to creep out last weekend, few were more surprised than football coach Tom Bostic.
"When I heard (on a news report) that it was a 'former defensive coordinator,' I thought to myself, 'No, it can't be Jerry'," Bostic said.
Former longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is charged with 40 counts of inappropriate acts with young boys, some alleged to have taken place in the Penn State locker room.
The news took Bostic aback, not just because of the victims, not just because he knew Sandusky, but because Bostic had a fear of what was to come: That legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno would lose his job.
"All I can say: It is a sign of the times. That's how loyalty is rewarded these days," Bostic said. "The minute something sours, the easy thing to do is get rid of them."
Bostic's fears were realized a few days later when Paterno was relieved of his duties as football coach at the school, ending a 61-year tenure at Penn State, the last 45 as head coach.
Bostic and Paterno are acquaintances.
The two coaches used to meet whenever Penn State played in a local bowl game. One year, Bostic remembers, Paterno saw him in the background during a bowl function. "Tommy, come on over here," Bostic remembers Paterno saying. Bostic could see the Penn State coach was busy, but Paterno insisted.
Last year, when Penn State played in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the team trained in Clearwater. During a practice at , Bostic spent a day with the Penn State coaching staff, but Paterno was in Tampa dealing with other bowl obligations.
Bostic and Paterno developed a friendship when Bostic, originally from Pennsylvania, used to go back to his home state and work at Paterno's summer football camps. It was at these camps that Bostic met and got to know Sandusky.
Bostic and Sandusky worked together with youngsters at the football camp, and he said there was never any hint or suggestion that Sandusky could be a sexual predator.
"No, it never crossed my mind," Bostic said. "As Mark Robinson said, [Sandusky] was one of the nicest guys he ever knew, funny as heck." Robinson is a former Penn State and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back.
Paterno has not been implicated in any sex acts, and Paterno himself was cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury. But some suspect he may have been part of a cover-up for deeds dating back to 1998.
Three top Penn State administrators, including president Graham Spanier, were either fired or placed on administrative leave. Athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz were accused of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.
In the grand jury testimony, Paterno said upon learning of an alleged incident of inappropriate behavior by Sandusky with a boy at the Penn State football facility, he alerted Curley to the incident but little to nothing was done in the days following.
Despite being fired, Bostic believes Paterno will continue to try to help the school. Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I history, in many ways embodied Penn State. Paterno has donated more than $5 million to the school, $4 million to the library and $1 million to the school's medical center, according to his biography on the Penn State athletics website.
At many colleges, the football stadium is named after a famous coach. Not at Penn State. The library is named after Paterno.
"I think he will still support" the school, Bostic said.
Bostic said he learned so many football skills from Paterno that he couldn't single one out except how to manage a football staff.
"He had his thumb on the program, but he let his coaches coach," Bostic said.
When asked if Bostic would ever hire Paterno, now that the coach is unemployed, Bostic laughed and said, "Yeah, if he's willing."