I’ve been wanting to post about this since the news broke, and after the firing of Paterno and the student “riots” last night (looks like a bunch of angry white kids too concerned with football to see the bigger picture) I had decided that I had to make a comment. Then I read the following and it summed everything up. So, for now, I leave you with this article from SFGate:
Penn State’s Joe Paterno gets what he deserves
Many folks in the media have been asking: What will this terrible scandal do to Joe Paterno’s legacy?
Folks, this is Joe Paterno’s legacy.
E-mails jump into my inbox defending Paterno, many of them from Pennsylvania, pointing out his won-lost record, his years of service and his reputation.
Wonderful. Still, from now on when I think of Paterno, I won’t think of his 400-and-whatever wins or his spotless (until now) program.
I won’t remember what Paterno did, but what he didn’t do. What he didn’t do is what got him fired Wednesday by the Penn State board of trustees.
Firing Joe Paterno doesn’t fix everything, but it’s a great start.
It represents the first ray of apparent sanity and clear thinking related to the Penn State scandal. Paterno’s firing spares the nation the appalling spectacle of JoePa coaching his team Saturday on national TV, being glorified and deified by adoring fans.
I don’t know if Paterno’s firing provides relief to any of the eight boys and young men who allegedly were sexually assaulted by Paterno’s longtime assistant coach. But if the firing provides even a tiny bit of relief, it was more noble and enlightened than was the hiring of Paterno as head coach almost a half century ago.
Today, for the first time since the scandal broke, the outside world doesn’t have to ask, “Is everyone associated with Penn State football completely delusional?”
We watched for days as people in Happy Valley seemed oblivious to the fact that Paterno and several others in the university community knew Jerry Sandusky was possibly a sexual predator of young boys, and nobody did anything to stop the crazy man.
Others have lost their jobs, including the school president. More will be fired or removed, including, one hopes, the assistant coach, Mike McQueary, who witnessed one attack and ran away. So why is Paterno taking the biggest hit (other than Sandusky) from the public?
Because Paterno is the man with the statue. He is the most admired and beloved – and maybe feared – person in the Penn State world. He is the man people entrust to set the standard for leadership and life conduct, and hold others to it. It’s a role Paterno earned and embraced.
With responsibility comes responsibility.
Look, witnesses have testified that Sandusky did bad things with young boys in the Penn State football shower room. At least two janitors knew. At least one assistant coach knew. The athletic director and the school vice president knew. The school president knew. Paterno knew.
What is the over-under number on how many people have to know about a depraved predator working under their noses before one of them takes a step to stop the predator and protect the victims?
Jay Bilas, the ESPN college basketball commentator, called it “a conspiracy of cowards.”
Many others contributed to Paterno’s 400-plus wins at Penn State, yet he got the statue. Many others contributed to a decade of freedom for a sex predator, yet Paterno will take much of the blame. That’s how it goes.
Even if McQueary, then a graduate assistant, gave Paterno only a vague description of the shower incident (and why in the world would Paterno not demand details?), the report should have raised in Paterno a reasonable suspicion that Sandusky was a dangerous criminal.
Yet Paterno didn’t do any follow-up, leaving us skeptics to speculate that he clamped a lid on any suspicion because a sex scandal involving the longtime defensive coordinator would have been a terrible stain on Penn State football and the Paterno Era.
Paterno should have realized that the level of damage to the program at that point would have been a pimple compared to the cancer that has enveloped the program.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,” Paterno said in a statement.
That’s pathetic. You need hindsight to tell you that you must do whatever you can to stop a dangerous criminal?
To Paterno’s supporters, those of us who called for and then praised his firing are a braying mob of self-righteous haters using vague information to ruin a good man. I can live with that.
Several e-mailers demand, “Have you ever heard of due process?”
The due process I’ve heard of involves a justice system and a legal trial. Paterno faces no legal action or charge. Legally, his rear end is covered.
But there was no trial when Paterno was sainted, no jury declared him one of the noblest and finest college coaches of all time. The public decided.
It’s the same deal on the flip side. We’ll take the facts and form them into our personal legacy of Joe Paterno.