Sandusky jurors include students from Penn State

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Sandusky jurors include students from Penn State

From Comcast SportsNet
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) -- The fast-moving jury selection for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse trial could wrap up quickly as lawyers try to fill the seven remaining slots on the panel. Twelve jurors and four alternates are needed, and nine were selected Tuesday. Twelve of the 40 potential jurors questioned Wednesday morning were excused, mostly because they said serving on a multi-week trial would be a financial hardship. Defense attorneys told the panel their witness list includes seven members of Sandusky's family, including his wife, Dottie, and two sons. Before jury selection resumed, defense lawyer Joe Amendola told reporters he was confident the nine jurors picked on Tuesday will give "us a fair shake." Lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, Pennsylvania's senior deputy attorney general, said that jury selection was "so far, so good." The five men and four women already selected include some people with strong ties to Penn State. They include a rising senior at the college, a retired soil sciences professor with 37 years at the university, a man with bachelor's and master's degrees from the school and a woman who's been a football season ticket holder since the 1970s. Others selected included a 24-year-old man with plans to attend an auto technician school, a mother of two who works in retail, a retired school bus driver, an engineer with no Penn State ties and a property management firm employee. Sandusky, 68, is fighting 52 criminal charges for alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. He has repeatedly denied the allegations. He faces potential penalties that could result in an effective life prison sentence. More than 600 jury duty summonses were sent out to residents in Centre County, the home of Penn State University's main campus. In questioning 40 prospective jurors Tuesday, about half said they or immediate family members worked at Penn State or were university retirees. One woman rented apartments to college students. Four knew Sandusky and two knew his wife. Sandusky's lawyer won the right to have jurors chosen from the local community, and prosecutors had concerns that Centre County might prove to be nearly synonymous with Penn State. Sandusky had helped build the football team's reputation as a defensive powerhouse known as "Linebacker U." His arrest toppled Joe Paterno from the head coaching position just months before his death from cancer, and some of the alleged attacks on children are said to have occurred inside university showers. One of the very first jurors to be seated wasn't just a season ticketholder since the 1970s: She said John McQueary -- a possible trial witness and the father of a key witness -- once worked with her husband. When Sandusky's lawyer sought to have her removed for cause, Cleland signaled he would need more grounds. "We're in Centre County. We're in rural Pennsylvania," Cleland said, noting that such connections "can't be avoided." Amendola opted not to use one of his eight challenges, and she joined the panel. Amendola did strike parents with children who are roughly junior high school age, similar to the ages for the alleged victims. All the jurors will have to say under oath they can be impartial. Prosecutors have claimed that Sandusky groomed boys he met through The Second Mile, the charity he founded for at-risk youth in 1977, then attacked them, in some cases in his own home or inside university athletic facilities.

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reportedly “almost certain” to accept the 49ers’ offer to become head coach.

Shanahan is the lone remaining candidate among the six individuals who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe. The 49ers plan for a second interview with Shanahan and a job offer, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Shanahan is expected to accept the 49ers’ offer, reports Michael Silver of the NFL Network, citing sources familiar with both parties.

The 49ers continued to work Tuesday evening on the process of narrowing down the general manager choices, a source said. Shanahan is expected to play a role in the select the team’s next GM, sources said.

On Tuesday, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed their names from consideration for the vacant coach and general manager positions. The 49ers fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke after the 49ers' 2-14 season.

One source said Cable and Kirchner believed the 49ers were using them as leverage to hire Shanahan. Cable interviewed with 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York over the phone on Tuesday, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers are allowed to interview Shanahan for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers are prohibited from hiring or making a formal contract offer to Shanahan until the Falcons' season has concluded.

The top remaining candidates for the general manager job are believed to be Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Arizona's Terry McDonough and Minnesota's George Paton.

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

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AP

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

BERKELEY — With more than a half-century without a Rose Bowl berth, tougher academic standards than most Pac-12 schools and lackluster fan support in a pro-sports focused market, there are plenty of hurdles for a football coach at California.

Coach Justin Wilcox took the job for the Golden Bears because he embraces those obstacles and he wants players who feel the same way as he seeks to rebuild a program that has one winning record in the past five years and no conference championships since 1958.

"When you come here, there are challenges," Wilcox said at his introductory news conference Tuesday. "You don't come here and go through school and just go through the motions. You'll be challenged in the classroom, challenged on the football field and learn to interact in a dynamic society. I believe in that and that helps guys grow."

Wilcox faces many hurdles in his new job replacing the recently fired Sonny Dykes less than three weeks before national signing day. He has to put together a coaching staff, evaluate the players already on campus and try to keep together, and even add to, a recruiting class that committed to a different staff.

Athletic director Mike Williams fired Dykes after four seasons on Jan. 8 because he wanted a coach committed to Cal instead of flirting with other jobs and needed someone who could excite a fan base that often stayed away from Memorial Stadium in recent years as the Bears teamed porous defenses with sometimes exciting offenses while posting a 19-30 record.

Williams had five finalists for the job but chose a former Cal assistant with a defensive background and familiarity with the Pac-12 as an assistant for seven years at three schools in the conference.

"He truly gets this place, he truly gets coaching in the West," Williams said. "He came in and was very organized and thoughtful. He knew what he wanted to do and who he wanted to hire. ... It's a special place and I think he'll treat it as a special place."

While Dykes flirted with job openings at Houston and Baylor this past offseason in part because of his concern about increased academic standards for recruits, the Bears hope Wilcox is someone who wants to stick around after more than a decade of being on a self-described "windy" path as a top defensive coach.

The former Oregon defensive back began his coaching career in 2001 as a graduate assistant at Boise State. He spent three years as linebackers coach under Jeff Tedford at Cal from 2003-05 when the Bears nearly ended their Rose Bowl drought during a 10-win season with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in 2004.

Wilcox has spent the past 11 years as a defensive coordinator with stops at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, Southern California and finally Wisconsin, where he helped the Badgers field a top 10 defense and win the Cotton Bowl.

Wilcox has worked and played for many successful coaches, including Tedford, Chris Petersen, Dan Hawkins, Mike Bellotti, and Paul Chryst.

"I've been extremely fortunate to work for and with people I learned so much from," he said. "Each step along the way, I've seen it done a lot of different ways. I'm not trying to be any of those people. I always try to take pieces and make it my own."

Wilcox has begun putting together his staff, having hired former Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator and longtime Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood to fill that role on the Bears.

The Bears will look very different under Wilcox than Dykes. Wilcox said he will recruit tight ends as Cal moves from the spread "Bear Raid" offense that relied on four receivers almost exclusively to a more balanced offense with tight ends and more power concepts.

While he will delegate most of the offensive responsibilities to Baldwin, Wilcox said he will be more involved on defense where he wants to find players who can fit into his base 3-4 system.

Cal ranked 125th in total defense, 127th in scoring defense and 122nd in yards per play out of 128 FBS teams last season on the way to a 5-7 record.

"Every second is critical right now," Wilcox said. "I will not sacrifice the long-term good of the program for what everyone wants which is certainty. Things will happen quickly. I understand the recruits have some anxiety about the situation and there's emotions involved. That's totally understandable. I'd feel the same way."