Paterno a Blight on Penn State

There isn’t a statement from history that says “It’s better to leave on your own then wait for them to shove you out the door,” but there should be.  Perhaps Joe Paterno should have said it years ago.  Certainly the pressure on him would be less now had he been the “former” coach of Penn State rather than the current coach.

What is happening at Penn State is mind-boggling.  How it transpired is even worse.  The situation has been explained and reported and will be over the next few days.  Paterno’s press conference on Tuesday will be a media event, but the coach will back away from talking about the crime.  And let there be no doubt, this is a crime.

But what happened after the crime is even worse.  Jim Tressell of Ohio State was lynched for tremendously less.  Paterno was one of the first to know, however the coach will say he did what he was obligated to do.  He turned it over to the Athletic Director,   Not once did Paterno pick up the phone to call the police.

Understandably Jerry Sandusky is a friend of Paterno’s, and the need for Paterno to try and protect his friend is easy to believe.  Paterno spent 30 years with this man, yet we are led to believe he knew nothing about Sandusky’s habits.  It’s hard to believe a man allegedly caught raping a child in an open locker room shower had not shown signs way before.

Everyone has seen the picture above, Paterno with his arm around Sandusky’s shoulder.  Paterno the protector, confidant and friend.  But Sandusky used up that friendship when the safety of a young child was put to the test and Paterno basically slid the problem up top, never doing anything else.

When the news was given to the coach in 2002, three choices were obvious.  He could have gotten more details from the Grad Assistant, Mike McCreary.  Obviously Paterno trusted McCreary, he is still on the coaching staff.  Or could he be on the staff because of this?

Second Paterno could have done what he did, push the problem up to the AD.  However in doing that, Paterno did nothing else.  He didn’t call to find out the progress or if his friend was indeed guilty or innocent.  We are expected to give Paterno a pass simply because of his long tenure at the school, and questioning this would bring no good.

Third, why wouldn’t Paterno call in his friend of over 30 years and ask him face to face what was going on?  Could the Grad Assistant be wrong?  Is there an explanation?  Most would give their friend the benefit of the doubt, but at least they would confront them.

Looking back is easy.  Paterno is safe legally but how can he speak with recruits and the parents any longer and pronounce the player safe?  No longer will anyone believe the coach when it comes to safety.  Paterno may be the “moral” voice for the University, but his common sense is certainly in question.  No call to the police or to the AD to check up is not acceptable.

It’s hard to say but Paterno’s days at Penn State are numbered.  He might want another year, but the board will not allow it.  As much good as Paterno has performed are wiped out with this one incident and it will never be forgotten.

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