Tuesday, September 18


by Barry Bozeman & the FREEHdom Fighters

The SURMA VENDETTA - a look into the cause of the Penn State Disaster.

Remember back last bleak November, how Joe Paterno was going to hold his regular Tuesday morning press conference following the Presentment on the 7th -  but it was cancelled? 

Have you wondered why that press conference was never held leaving the media doubting Joe because he would not speak to them?

Some said it was evidence of Joe's complicity in events described in the Presentment, suggesting he was afraid to face them.

New information supplied by credible sources has made it clear that one man acting alone was responsible for the cancellation of that Tuesday press conference prior to the board convening on Wednesday night.

Monday’s presentment press conference had Attorney General Linda Kelly standing next to pictures of Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Jerry Sandusky while she announced that Penn State was complicit in the abuse of children going undiscovered for many years. 

Kelly said Mike McQueary saw a boy being subjected to anal intercourse in the showers of a PSU locker room, adding that Paterno was informed of a blatant sex act by McQueary who also told Schultz and Curley. The two administrators were indicted for their failure to report the sexual abuse and of lying to the Grand Jury to save PSU embarrassment and bad publicity that would follow such a revelation.

By Tuesday morning, Joe Paterno was preparing for far more than his regularly scheduled press conference knowing he would be questioned about the Sandusky situation. Paterno was anxious to explain what he knew and answer any questions. One man, on his own, without any vote by the board canceled the press conference and thus end the best opportunity for Joe to put the media on notice that Kelly’s version of events was distorted and incomplete - that Mike McQueary never told him about any anal intercourse. Joe knew he had done the right thing.

Would anyone with the best interests of Penn State at heart silence the one man with the stature and respect of the media from offering a defense of the university to counter what we now know were blatant lies by the attorney general?

The cancellation of Joe’s press conference fueled media speculation that the Board of Trustee’s meeting in emergency session on Wednesday night would remove Paterno as head coach. Why else would their best ambassador be denied the opportunity to address the media? It seemed the only reason Joe would not meet the press would be his guilt and the guilt of the PSU administrators.

Wednesday morning, Joe made the following announcement:

"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case," Paterno's statement read. "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.        
 "I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.                      
"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can."
To most of us this seemed like a very reasonable course of action. After all the Presentment is a prosecutors most damaging set of allegations gathered without the participation of defense attorneys and cross-examination free from any bothersome exculpatory evidence or questions that might result in less damaging answers. We are innocent until proven guilty in this country unless the media decides your guilt in advance of any trial. Joe Paterno was the best hope for Penn State keeping the wedge of doubt between the media and the Attorney General. That chance at keeping the media on the fence was squandered by one man.

Wednesday night, the Board of Trustees voted to remove Joe Paterno as head coach effective immediately. Nothing could have had a greater negative impact on the public’s view of the guilt or innocence of Joe and Penn State. The world then KNEW that Joe was guilty in the eyes of the Board of Trustees and Joe being the most well known image associated with PSU meant PSU was guilty too. One man with the full complicity of the Corbett nominees and cronies had set in motion the media frenzy that immediately turned the public against the university and it's famous coach. If the BoT wouldn't stand by Joe, Tim, and Gary they must be guilty.

The cancellation of his press conference was the first and most important domino to fall in the series of events that culminated in the situation we see today. That act eliminated the last best hope to manage the crisis in a way that would require the attorney general to prove her claims of cover up and complicity. So who is the one individual most responsible for the one sided nightmare that has caused such damage to Penn State?

Looking back, do you recall who made the announcement that Joe Paterno had been fired and was no longer the head coach for PSU?  Do you remember who sent the message Joe received from a courier at his home late Wednesday night?

Who is this man who started the implosion that put PSU on the defensive and allowed Attorney General Kelly's Presentment to be accepted as unassailable fact?  What was the reason he chose to support Tom Corbett's plan of distraction and announce the coup de gras to Joe by telephone so soon after Joe voluntarily announced his resignation effective at the end of the 2011/2012 season?

The person who did these things and assumed full control of the Board of Trustees is was not Steve Garban - the board chairman. It was John P. Surma, the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and CEO of US Steel.
We know the who, how and when so all that is left is the why? Here we have an answer:
John P. Surma is the younger brother of Victor Surma, a former player for Joe Paterno. Victor Surma, Jr., his son, walked on as a wide receiver from 2003 thru 2005. Victor Sr. even lived for a brief time in the basement of the Sandusky home.  

In an article published this past July, Victor Surma is quoted by Sara Ganim as her source for the attitude of former players:

“I have always felt and tried to explain to people the strange culture that existed under Paterno,” said Victor Surma, who played for Penn State in 1969 and 1970, and even lived in Sandusky’s basement for a time. “Paterno fostered a strange and unhealthy society in that town,” he said.

What would drive Vic Surma to give such a quote about his former coach so alien to the attitude of Franco Harris?

The PS4RS Critical Review of the Freeh Report on page 17 contains this text

This is fine as far as it goes but it does not go far enough. It is clear from Sara Ganim’s article and this tweet that Victor Surma was her source for the feelings of former players about Joe.

'69-'70 #PSU player Victor Surma tells me “Paterno fostered a strange and unhealthy society in that town." #Freeh

Why Sara Ganim would use Vic Surma as her source is a very good question. Why use the brother of a member of the Board of Trustee’s who is obviously so antagonistic toward Joe Paterno out of the 100's of players who think the world of their former coach? Vic Surma was a player back in the late 1960's.

There is substantial evidence of the antipathy for Joe Paterno held by Vic Surma. Back in 2007 there was a listserv board for former PSU football players. A small section of that information was saved by Warren Hartenstine and several other players. One version of that list made it’s way to me and another from a different source made it to Ray Blehar.

Here are Victor's comments on the listserv for PSU football players in 2007. I have redacted the names in order to maintain the anonymity of the persons involved in the replies to Vic Surma preceded by an email from Warren Hartenstine who was a part of the listserv group:

Hartenstine tells us that Vic Surma was removed from access to the list serv by popular demand from the other former players using the utility:.  

One Vic Surma post is an example of his bitterness toward Joe Paterno.

This attack on Joe resulted in several stern retorts from the players on the board 
- this is a small sample

Two more of Vic Surma’s posts during this period via a word document from a former player
Can you imagine Paterno and (moe, larry) & Curley donating money to a former player in trouble.  They would sell adsvertising on the soles of the players cleats if they could upgrade their cadillac escalades, free gas and other perks.  You know what kind of people we're dealing with.  We've all played for him--the biggest fraud of the college football world. To expect Paterno and his gang to help is a dream.....try to get blood out of a stone....good luck.
Does this sound like the Joe Paterno who would visit Adam Taliferro in a Philadelphia hospital constantly during his injury?
Victor Surma <vsurma8215@> wrote: The Rat has hurt so many young men; destroyed their self esteem, ruined their confidence, etc. I feel it is my obligation to expose his fraud to the nastional media before he ckecks out I'm starting with the Pittsburgh reporter and hope to take his fraud national!!! I hope you understand. I was a 3 year letterman, have no axe to grind ; just want to set the record straight on the RATS legacy. Vic S
Evidently Victor’s name for Joe was “The Rat”. He says “I have no axe to grind” Well you could have fooled us Vic. This display of antipathy and vitriol on a listserv for former players seems to show the Pittsburg dentist to be completely unhinged by his anger. Why? Was Joe tough on him at practice? Or did Joe fail to play his son enough? 

Who are these "100's of young men's lives that have been destroyed"?

Certainly not Dan Conroy (sic) Connor. Connor was upset with linebacker coach Joe Sarra  who is not mentally challenged and Vic Surma claims Dan was not punished enough.

Jim Kollars, the other player mentioned in Victor's post, did break the rule about drinking in public and evidently holds no ill will toward Joe for being dismissed for violating that rule. 40 years of therapy? There is no evidence to support Vic’s claim the successful Vet had any problem dealing with his dismissal from the team for violation of team rules. His successful life as a Vet proves Vic's claim to be wrong. 

What kind of anger prompts a mature 58 year old Dentist to make such outrageous claims and threats to his coach of 27 years in the past? Did something terrible happen to Vic Surma's son in the three years he played for Joe? The listserv meltdown happened a year after Vic Jr. left the team.

Would someone with such a low opinion of Joe Paterno allow his son to attend Penn State and walk on as a wide receiver? It seems that something must have happened after Vic Jr. left the team. A
former player of Victor Surma Sr's era offers this explanation for Vic's antipathy:

I think it’s about a three year letterman who labored under Joe’s way of coaching and never grew up to understand that he was always pushing us to be better than we thought we could ever be, more physically able than we ever thought we could be – seldom if ever with a positive comment. Vic was drafted in the 11th round by Miami, left camp on July 13, then returned the next day.
As often happens, I think Vic failed to meet his own expectations and his inability to take the blow to his self esteem or admit his lack of desire, he had to blame someone.  At that point in Vic's life, Joe is a good target.  Mothers?  Fathers?  Position coaches are pretty developmentally oriented.  Joe is Joe, running across the field and grabbing your face mask.  
Pro coaches don’t really care – you have to have your own mental house in order. Somehow the embarrassment and, dare I say, humiliation get linked and blame becomes natural.  I know this from personal experience, but the norm is to recognize the ownership of the responsibility and reconcile ourselves.  Vic was unable to accomplish that and remains emotionally crippled, complicated by what he probably perceives as the failure of his son – or Joe’s failure with his son.

Whether that is the explanation, or the limited playing time Vic Jr. got, some situation created this antipathy for Joe among the Surma's and led to John Surma's glee at the prospect of tearing down Joe's well earned reputation. This appears to be a vendetta on the part of Surma for his belief that Joe negatively affected the life of his brother and nephew, who caused him some personal disappointment.

When one source was informed of this story, his response indicated that this piece of the puzzle explained why Surma had been in favor of Paterno's firing for some time before the Sandusky indictments. The Surma’s were not known to have any negative feelings about Joe prior to 2007 and this changed dramatically as they made their dislike for the coach quite evident. Many parents get upset with coaches when their sons don’t see much playing time but the Surma’s negativity seemed to go beyond that.

60 years as a football coach will likely spawn a few "enemies" but it's obvious that the majority of Joe's players do not share the the Surma attitude. But together with Corbett's cronies and clones, Surma supporters joined in to overrule any saner heads in the wake of Attorney General Linda Kelly's blatant lie that launched the media tsunami that destroyed Joe's reputation.

How tragic it is that the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustee's would use such a dangerous occasion to take his vengeance on Joe Paterno? One source said that Surma, after having cut Paterno's lifeline by cancelling his press conference, made it immediately clear that it was his intention to have Paterno fired so the board would finally show Joe who was really in charge.

Joe was never in charge. He simply built up the kind of influence that comes from such longevity in a very visible position. But Joe certainly had his detractors as he aged and the results on the field faltered during the black years. Freeh's contention that Joe enjoyed unlimited power and control is simply ridiculous. Joe was a football coach and his very visible position garnered both adoration and contempt. It is not a position sought for comfort and automatic continuation. Any power only comes from continued success. Joe certainly had considerable influence but that's not the same thing as power. In this position in Nov of 2011 we can see how little power Joe had even with his resignation at season's end. Joe ran the football program not the University.

Does Vic Surma's antipathy for Joe automatically mean John P Surma held a vendetta toward Joe Paterno? There is evidence that John P's antipathy toward Joe only became obvious around 2007 after Vic Jr left the team following his Jr season and Vic Sr. went online to rant  "I feel it is my obligation to expose his (The Rat's) fraud to the nastional media before he ckecks out"

The timeline of events certainly suggests that John P. shared his older brother's anger with Joe. But did Surma have that kind of power over the Board of Trustees?

This is a post from a Freehdom fighter who attended most of the BoT meetings:  
If you could see the board in action, you would be convinced there is something far bigger at hand.  It’s clear that Surma is the real leader.  His body language, his words, his tone.  The new trustees are helping, but they are not assigned to any of the financial/business/legal committees.   Surma sits on 3 of the 6 sub-committees (how do you be in 3 places at once?)  And guess who is the Trustee Liaison to Capital Campaigns? Surma.  And who is on the Executive Committee?  Surma.  He has the power. Because they never expected this pressure, from the alum and other Penn State friends, their “script” is getting out of order.  They are making all of these Freeh report changes,  however, they haven’t formally accepted  ANY of them.  There is internal fighting that is slowing the process down and causing events to happen illogically and out of order. Nonsensical.
One last thing: From the minutes to the Penn State Board of Trustees November 5, 2010 meeting.    Section C item 5: “RESOLVED, That the following non-University employee of the Penn State Investment Council is appointed for a term ending 2011: Gary Glynn, President and Chief Investment Officer, US Steel and Carnegie Pension Fund (New York, NY).
Penn State’s Investment Council oversees  an endowment of $1.4 billion.  John Surma is CEO of US Steel.  I wonder who appointed Mr. Glynn?

The Board of Trustees said they didn't fire Joe but they did. See the termination letter.  They said they didn't know anything about the situation prior to November 2011 - then it came out that they were briefed in May. It appears that their mismanagement of the situation may have been by Surma's design - not the ineptitude we initially suspected. It seems that Surma had a plan to help his brother in his mince no words  quest  
"I feel it is my obligation to expose his fraud to the nastional media before he ckecks out I'm starting with the Pittsburgh reporter and hope to take his fraud national!!" 
Well it's mission accomplished for the SURMA family - Joe's legacy is in ruins along with the reputation of your Alma Mater. Where can we send our congratulations for a job well done....

600 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA USA 15219
Phone: 412-433-1121

Fax: 412-433-5733

It's good to have a face to put with this "accomplishment". John P. and Victor Surma - they got the job done. 

Quite a change from Vic since 2002 when he said  in a 2003 book written by Rich Scarsella. 

"Joe instilled in us how to win. He's a special man, a  special person. There's nobody better in  taking high school players and making them men."


  1. The US Steel stockholders should be aware of this.
    Is this the type of person you want to lead your company?
    He should resign from both the PennState BOT and his executive position at US Steel.

  2. Ah, but "Joe Paterno was the most powerful man in the state of Pennsylvania."

    Well, yeah, right behind the Governor, the Attorney General, and the CEO of US Steel. For starters...

    And thank you for pointing out the OBVIOUS difference between power and influence. (Perhaps some folks in the media should carry a pocket dictionary?) Certainly, Paterno was one of the most influential people in Pennsylvania, but when it comes to power (authority), your average traffic cop has a lot more power than a man in charge of a football program.

  3. Paterno's "power" came from his decades of good will and good deeds. He was beloved, but humble. He NEVER used his position to manipulate influence.

  4. Love the quotes from Vic in this piece from way back in November.


    Probably trying to hide his glee...but why was he so available to the media at that point???

  5. I'm not sure of the exact dates, but it's probably worth noting that Corbett didn't start his slow investigation into Sandusky until 2008, not so long after Vic Surma appears to have suddenly gain a personal vendetta against Paterno and also around the same time John Surma came to prominent power over the Trustees.

    So the Surma's make it their goal to take down Paterno and team up with Corbett who had knowledge of Sandusky's previous 1998 investigation through his connection to Ray Gricar? Maybe not 100% accurate, but definitely enough suspicious pieces that the media should be looking into it. Too bad it won't make them millions of dollars because there are no big names the public can become wrapped up in.

  6. FlynnPSU,
    Corbett's investigation got underway in 2009. If you haven't read my piece on the Mother of Victim 6, you should check it out. This was not a SLOW ROLL investigation as the lying media has characterized it.


  7. this is truly sickening. to destroy a man's reputation like this over some imagined slights. i think the surma family are mentally ill.

  8. Wow, Ray. How can we get the BoT to read this post? This is really ugly.

  9. The RUMOR when I attended PSU, the same time as Vic SR, was that Vic SR was gay. Heard this from a source at University Park, and another in the Pittsburgh area. A very unusual thing to say at that time. Don't know if this means anything since it is rumor, but maybe another piece of the puzzle.