I must admit that when I heard the word that legendary Penn State Football coach Joe Paterno had passed away as a result of complications of Lung Cancer, I found myself somewhat angry. I was angry because I was immediately reminded of what I had said a few short months ago when JoePa was summerly dismissed as coach because of alleged inaction over the Sandusky Sex Scandal that rocked not only Penn State but the entire College Football community. “Take football away from Joe Paterno, and you’ll kill him”. Well…..
No, I did not know him personally. But I had read about him, and heard the many stories about his many years as the head coach of Penn State. Enough so that there was no doubt in my mind that this man who was so well-loved and respected was a legend. Faculty said it, former players said it, former students said it, and so did the many fans who admired this man whose primary requirement to remain on his team was to keep grades up, and always remember that you were at Penn State to get a college degree. Football was secondary.
It was secondary at one time, but then big money and sponsors got involved. Now College Football became a money tree for universities throughout the country. But, JoePa never changed his policy and stood firm to assure that these folks got a good solid education.
Then, after sixty years of making Penn State one of the great Football Teams ever, came the Sandusky scandal. We all know the story, We all know that JoePa responded by going to the Administration and letting the higher-ups know what was going on and that it needed to be addressed. That’s when things came unglued however. You see, the University was dealing now with a major scandal. They obviously wanted to keep this thing under wraps. Imagine the repercussions of such a major Sex Scandal involving minor Boys, being abused in the showers of a Major University. Now imagine minor boys being sexually abused in the showers of Penn State, in the showers under the charge of JoePa, the legendary Penn State Football coach. No, that was not Coach Paternos thinking, that was the mentality of the Board of Trustees, as well as the President of the college. I understand that the State Attorney General had to cover his own rear because of his own negligence of this issue.
So when faced with the indictment and arrest of Mr. Sandusky, an assistant coach on the Universities Football team, and the results of the media and fans, they took the cheap way out. The held JoePa responsible and fired him. The Board of Trustees had a meeting and accused him of negligence, and not following up on the accusations against Sandusky. He did what he was supposed to do. He was a coach, and the seriousness of these allegations should be addressed by administration. While Joe Paterno accepted responsibility for his lack of follow-up, saying “I should have done more”, I thought to myself what the repercussions would have been if he had pushed the issue? What actions would the University have taken attempting to protect their sacred cow? First they would have said this is an administrative issue. Then they would have made it clear that JoePa was out-of-bounds and probably fired him for over-reacting, and placing the Universities Sports Dept. in jeopardy. I say he did the right thing.
But what really tore at my gut, was they way these cowards relieved him from his duties. All this talk about how they made a phone call was a bunch of hooey! I remember they day he was dismissed and I understood that they sent an errand boy over to Joe’s house with a letter informing him of the boards actions. They did not even have the courage to tell him to his face. They didn’t even allow him to explain his recollection of the events that occurred or the reasons for his actions or lack thereof.
Now, that Joe Paterno is gone Penn State is making a big deal of his passing, as if his departure was by some mutual agreement. The same cowards who took him out now come out with statements and speeches about how they admired him, how great he was etc;.
But, these same Trustees were very much aware at the time what was going on. They obviously knew about the allegations against Sandusky. So what do they do? They get him to quietly step aside. Then they give him tenure and access to the Facilities and showers for his Youth Sports program.
Whats wrong with this picture? So, while I did not know Joe Paterno. Although I did not know every gory detail of this sordid affair, I do know a shaft when I see one. And Joe Pa got the shaft, he was used as the scape goat so that the University could skirt their responsibility. Already two members of the Board of Trustees are not seeking re-election. (They know better), and the President has announced his intention to leave as soon as a new President is selected. I wonder if some one will have the courage to call on the Attorney General?
What a sad ending to a great legendary coach who loved the sport of Football.
Rest in Peace JoePa…………rest in Peace.