Bears kicker Robbie Gould watches his field goal attempt come up short. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: August 7, 2012 4:54PM
BOURBONNAIS – Robbie Gould still is Penn State.
As crazy as it sounds, as small a minority as he now walks in, the Bears kicker is defiantly gripping that white and blue flag, and holding onto it tighter than ever.
That’s why he reached out to first-year Nittany Lion’s football coach Bill O’Brien within the last week, just to see how he could help. That’s also why he praises the current football players that have stayed in the wake of one of the most horrific college scandals to ever hit a university.
So is Gould somehow feeling obligated to apologize for playing football for Penn State from 2001-04?
Not even close.
“I talked to Coach O’Brien the other day, ‘Hey whatever you need, just let me know,’ ‘’ Gould insisted on Tuesday. “I’m passionate about the program, it’s unfortunate what happened. I feel bad for the victims and their families, and I hope they get the help they need, whatever that may be.
“I’m very happy to say that I’m a Penn Stater. You’re obviously disappointed on what had happened within the institution, but that the same time, it’s a great place to go to school, a great place to play football, and I think with the new regime, their focus and dedication, listening to the interviews, they’re headed in the right direction.’’
Gould enters this season currently ranked the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history, so why do his views on his alma mater seem so skewed?
Is it blind faith? Loyalty? None of the above. Gould is educated, well spoken and has done his homework on the matter. The fact that his view is that of the inside looking out, that’s where he loses the majority of us.
He doesn’t see it as former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky being protected by the university as he abused children. It’s almost as if he is able to separate the two, without ever mentioning Sandusky’s name in the interview.
Gould is more concerned with moving forward, by first helping the victims and their families, than by dwelling on what was.
It’s a tough high-wire act to walk, especially without a safety net.
“Sure, there’s always going to be some sort of tug-of-war,’’ Gould said. “No matter how you look at it.’’
His war is now on how the NCAA plans to specifically use the $60 million in sanctions they took from the university to help the victims, as well as making sure the athletic program can recover and once again gain the trust of the community.
“Obviously taking away scholarships is going to hurt any program,’’ Gould said of the sanctions. “You can’t really put a numerical value and say, ‘It’s not going to be back in 10 years.’ No one knows. As long as the program does well, they get the right people in there that want to play football, learn how to be a man, get one of the best educations you’re ever going to get, and succeeding in life after football, then it’s the right place for people to go.
“I hope the victims get the help they need, but I think it will be just a matter of time before things get back to somewhat normalcy.’’
As far as his views of former head coach Joe Paterno, well, he again gives off the feeling of loyalty for JoPa, without stating it.
Specifically, the idea that Paterno had all of his wins dating back to 1998 vacated. That also means that Gould never won a college game in the eyes of the NCAA.
“I’m undefeated … I guess I never played college football,’’ Gould said. “I don’t think anybody, including the Paterno Family, would tell you that they care about the wins and losses in this situation. I really don’t care if I have a win or a loss at this point. I just want the victims to get the right help. I want to see the university get back to where it was when I was there, making the right decisions and making sure that the community becomes tighter. Hopefully, that will happen over time.’’
Gould will continue to hold onto that hope.
In that very small minority.