Penn State LB, Suspended In 2005 For Prank Calling A Retired Assistant Coach, Says It Wasn't Jerry Sandusky (UPDATED)

Carolina Panthers linebacker Dan Connor concluded his career at Penn State in 2007 as the school's all-time leading tackler. But the fine print of his otherwise outstanding playing days for the Nittany Lions includes a 2005 suspension for prank calls he and two teammates made to what was reported at the time as "a retired member of the Penn State football family." And the internet has been alight with speculation that Connor and his buddies had taken aim at Jerry Sandusky, fanning the flames of just how well and for how long Sandusky's alleged crimes against children were said to be known in Happy Valley.

Turns out it wasn't Sandusky who was pranked, however. A source confirmed that it was actually Joe Sarra, another former Nittany Lions assistant coach. In 1984, Sarra became one of Sandusky's assistant defensive coaches, and he later became an administrative assistant before his retirement in January 2005—just a few months before the prank calls were said to have taken place. According to the bio for his induction into his college's Hall of Fame two years ago, Sarra had met Sandusky after leaving his job as an assistant coach at Lafayette University College. And he did that so he could join the staff at The Second Mile.

Jack McCaffrey, a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, a suburban Philly newspaper that covered Connor in high school, got Connor on the phone the other day and asked him about the prank calls. McCaffrey subsequently wrote a column, which SportsGrid linked to last night. This is from what McCaffrey wrote:

That victim has remained anonymous, though Connor says it wasn't Sandusky.

"No," he said. "No, it wasn't. It was another coach."

Hmm. I first phoned McCaffrey to see what else he knew, and to see if Connor sounded believable.

"Dan sounded sincere," McCaffrey said. "He almost laughed when I brought up, since he knew it was coming. I don't know that it wasn't Jerry Sandusky; I just know that Dan denied that it was him. He didn't tell me the name."

I also spoke to someone else who had covered Connor's high school career for a local newspaper. This reporter, who asked that I not use his name, told me he was aware going back to the time of Connor's suspension that the targeted coach was Sarra. Believed to be in his mid-70s, Sarra is said to suffer from dementia.

UPDATE: The Philadelphia Inquirer reported it was Joe Sarra in 2005.

Connor: No one had any idea about Sandusky [Delco Times]
No, Dan Connor didn't prank call Jerry Sandusky in 2005 [SportsGrid]
[Photo via AP]