COLUMBIA, Mo. — A state lawmaker took Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel to task Thursday for his recent defense of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno as "a great man."
State Rep. Sara Lampe issued a statement Thursday criticizing what she called the "Mizzou coach's defense of a child rapist enabler." Lampe is a Springfield Democrat seeking her party's nomination for lieutenant governor in an eight-candidate primary election on Aug. 7.
Pinkel defended Paterno on Tuesday while speaking with reporters at the Southeastern Conference's preseason media day. He called the Penn State sex abuse scandal a "tragic situation," but said Paterno's legacy shouldn't be tarnished by the actions of Jerry Sandusky.
"Joe Paterno's a friend that I got to know professionally, and you can't take away the greatness of this man," Pinkel said. "He was a great man. However you analyze this, you can't erase all that this guy's done. You can't do that. Nobody can do that."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Lampe said she felt compelled to speak out after hearing Pinkel's "revered comments."
"I believe coach Pinkel was using his public voice to do what's right, and I'm doing the same," said Lampe, a former high school teacher and principal. "I have spent 30 years standing up for children."
Lampe said she read an executive summary of the 267-page report by former FBI director Louis Freeh report, which was released on July 12. In it, Freeh concluded that Paterno, ousted Penn State president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and other top officials ignored child sex abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago to avoid bad publicity.
Lampe said that by Thursday afternoon, she had already been excoriated for her strong words. Her statement lumped Pinkel in among "all but the most sycophantic of Paterno worshippers" who still defend the late Penn State coach despite the report's findings.
GRAMBLING WANTS RECORD BACK: An attorney for the city of Grambling, La., has filed a request to the NCAA asking the governing body vacate some of Joe Paterno's record 409 victories.
Grambling is the home of Grambling State University. Coach Eddie Robinson led Grambling to 408 victories during his career with the Tigers, a total that was passed by Paterno less than two weeks before he was fired as the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke.
Grambling athletic director Percy Caldwell said he had no knowledge of the request and that the school was not involved.
City attorney Pamela Breedlove said she filed the request with the approval of Mayor Edward Jones because "you would want to associate the record with someone who had the character of coach Robinson."
TICKET TAX TO HELP ABUSED: Nick Saban says one option to address the Penn State tragedy might be a ticket tax on athletic events and giving the proceeds to child abuse funds.
The Alabama coach didn't go into details Thursday of how a tax would be implemented, but said such a move to benefit victims would have a positive affect rather than punishing those who didn't have anything to do with the Sandusky case.
Saban says the Sandusky child sex abuse case and Penn State fallout "is a very, very criminal case that probably reflects poorly on a lot of folks."
He says his feelings are too raw to express publicly. But Saban says the focus should be on "what do we need to do to make it better."
SOONERS TABBED AS NO. 1: Oklahoma has been picked to win the Big 12, followed by West Virginia and Texas.
A preseason poll of media members who cover the league was released Thursday. Oklahoma received 32 of a possible 41 first-place votes. The Mountaineers, who beat Clemson in the Orange Bowl last season, had seven first-place votes heading into their first season in the Big 12.
The Longhorns were picked third, followed by defending league champion Oklahoma State. TCU is picked to finish its first year in the league in fifth place.
The Horned Frogs and Kansas State (sixth) each got one first-place vote. Baylor, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas round out the poll.