BELLEFONTE - There is plenty of strategy required in football, and Jerry Sandusky's camp used some Tuesday.
With hundreds of media from around the country present for Sandusky's preliminary hearing on 50 counts of alleged child abuse involving victims of the The Second Mile charity that Sandusky founded, Judge Robert Scott announced moments after the court convened that the most decorated assistant coach in Penn State history was waiving his charges to court.
You could hear the room gasp in shock.
Was it the right call? Only time will tell.
Even if Sandusky's outspoken lawyer, Joe Amendola, had grilled the 11 witnesses that the state Attorney General's Office planned to call, the defense knew it was unlikely that the judge would throw out the case.
The preliminary hearing would have given Sandusky and Amendola a chance to go on the offensive and to gauge what they're up against, but they already know that, since Amendola believes Sandusky "is climbing Mount Everest."
Had they gone through with the hearing, many of the alleged victims would essentially have repeated what they told the state grand jury. That would have further swayed the court of public opinion against Sandusky, who has already been soundly defeated there, along with bringing an entire university down with him.
So Sandusky and his lawyer pulled an audible late Monday night and decided the best chance to avoid being put away for life, or at least a long, long time, was to participate in the only venue that really matters - trial by jury.
"This goes well beyond the Penn State-Miami game," Amendola told a frigid media throng outside the Centre County Courthouse. "This is the fight of Jerry's life."
While the 200-plus in attendance shivered, Amendola spoke for 55 minutes in 20-degree temperatures, without wearing a coat or gloves, and seemed intent on not only answering every question but repeating them when necessary.
He reinforced that Sandusky's accusers "are still alleged victims," and boldly attacked their credibility, suggesting they're out for money, along with the eroding credibility of Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, one of the state's star witnesses.
If he didn't gain ground, Amendola at least bought time.
When Sandusky emerged from the session, before being whisked away, he pledged to defend himself "for four quarters," and Amendola's reference to the Miami game was interesting for this reason:
It was Sandusky's finest hour against a team that if Penn State played 10 times, Miami probably would have won at least eight.
Maybe we saw Tuesday some of Sandusky's mentality against the Hurricanes: Take your best shot once, plan the ultimate defense and, barring a plea that Amendola said isn't coming, let the chips fall where they may.
Had he gone through with the preliminary hearing, maybe the case becomes even more daunting.
Amendola must convince a jury that there's enough reasonable doubt not to convict.
He must do it once, and from the mountain of evidence already gathered, he'll need every waking moment to prepare to fight a case in which his client has already admitted showering with young boys who are on the witness/alleged victim list.
So Amendola will take his chances when the stakes are highest - at trial - and not in the exhibition game that he and Sandusky apparently believed Tuesday's preliminary hearing to be.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoona