Sandusky scandal 'shocking' for Penn State alum Robinson
The stunning news of Jerry Sandusky's child-sex-abuse scandal at Penn State has been difficult to fathom for former Nittany Lions players, including former Bucs safety Mark Robinson, an All-American at Penn State in 1982 and part of USF football's radio broadcast team since the Bulls started playing in 1997.
"It's very shocking, and it saddens me, because the Penn State football family has made such a positive impact on my life," Robinson said by phone Tuesday. "I'm just surprised, and can't believe it one way or another. Right now, you're just trying to sort through everything. ... Those are serious accusations. Because I'm a Penn Stater, I hope that they aren't true. I'm also a realist and understand that things do happen."
Sandusky, the longtime defensive coordinator under Joe Paterno, was arrested Saturday, accused of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span. Two high-ranking university officials are already out of their jobs, and reports Tuesday suggested Paterno could be coaching his last season, the prospect of which is especially difficult for Robinson.
"I have so much respect and admiration for Coach Paterno. The things he's provided for myself, it goes beyond explanation," he said. "Lessons I've learned off the field more so than on the field. Now, regardless of the outcome, it's going to tarnish his image, his reputation. It's a shame in that regard."
Robinson, who played nine seasons in the NFL, including six with the Bucs from 1988-93, said the things Sandusky is being accused of stand in stark contrast to the coach he played for from 1980-83, some 15 years before the first alleged incident.
"Jerry was one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life," Robinson said. "He'd try to get mad at us in meetings, try to say something and you really couldn't think of him that serious. You knew he had a genuine heart. That's the type of person he was. That's what the real shocking thing about this is. He always demonstrated that to me, and to my teammates to the best of my knowledge. Hopefully this isn't true and the legal process can run its course. If it is, you have to hope that justice is really given in this situation."
Robinson's duties with USF's radio broadcast have kept him from getting back to Penn State often -- the last time he was back on campus was when USF played at Penn State to open the 2005 season.
"You're trying to be supportive of the Penn State football family. It's a tight-knit group," Robinson said. "I had so many positive experiences there, and those can never be touched by whatever comes out."