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'Touched' by Jerry Sandusky with Kip Richeal

Coach tackles touching and ticklish facts of his life

Sunday, June 10, 2001

By Ray Fittipaldo, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

 
 

Touched

By Jerry Sandusky with Kip Richeal

Sports Publishing
$16.95

   
 
In Jerry Sandusky’s book, “Touched,” the former longtime Penn State defensive coordinator and native of Washington, Pa., paints a colorful picture of his life as a coach, family man and humanitarian.

Sandusky writes equally of his time in and out of football. Most of his time away from the game is devoted to his family and his charitable foundation, the Second Mile, which serves underprivileged children. Interesting anecdotes from all aspects of his life are neatly packaged with the help of Kip Richeal, a 1987 Penn State graduate and former equipment manager for the football team.

Wading through some of the slower passages about his youth in the Tylerdale section of Washington is necessary background in order to gain an understanding of why Sandusky is so bent on helping children in need of direction through Second Mile.

Sandusky and his parents lived in the Brownson House recreation center for part of his childhood. His father, Art, quit his job to oversee the Brownson House for a modest wage because it was an opportunity to become a positive influence on children.

Once married, Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, adopted six children and took in six more foster children over the years. The youngest of his adopted children, Matthew, is a former Second Mile child who became more and more attached to the family, until he was adopted.

For the football fan, the self-deprecating Sandusky recounts many humorous tales from inside the coaches’ offices to the recruiting trail and offers some fine lessons on the inexact science of recruiting. For instance, how former Steelers Hall of Famer Jack Ham received the last scholarship one year and almost ended up at another school.

Sandusky is at his best when he is storytelling, whether it be tales from his mischievous youth or his relationships with friends and coaches. You might laugh out loud when you read about the time he took a rather colorful Tyerdale character nicknamed “Jingles” on a recruiting trip with him to Uniontown High School. His recollections about former Penn State assistants Bob Phillips (Montour) and Joe Sarra (Belle Vernon) also provide excellent comic relief.

Sandusky doesn’t delve very deeply into game strategy or controversy, but he does stir the pot some near the end of the book, when he excruciatingly recalls having been talked out of a defense he wanted to call late in the game against Minnesota in his final season. Penn State lost, and the Nittany Lions’ hopes for a third national championship season were gone.

The book takes a poignant turn when Sandusky writes about his struggles to start Second Mile and some bad business deals that set him back.

By book’s end, it is difficult to distinguish whether Sandusky’s legacy will be as a successful, fun-loving football coach or as founder of the Second Mile.

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