On Joe Paterno and Perspective
Let me start by just putting it out there, Joe Paterno absolutely had to be dismissed. Once all the facts about former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s alleged child abuse, and Paterno’s actions upon being notified were out in the open, there was absolutely no way that Paterno could or should have been allowed to finish his final season at Penn State as was his wish.
I understand the need of Penn State alumni and fans to try and equivocate on Paterno’s behalf, but let’s be honest, in a stunning act of self-preservation, Paterno actually covered for a child molester. Here’s the story in a nutshell, Jerry Sandusky was investigated for assaulting a boy in 1998 and retired in 1999. In 2002, a graduate assistant reported to Paterno that he witnessed Sandusky assaulting a 10-year old boy. Paterno apparently reported this information to his “superiors” (more on that in a moment) and then never followed up when they did nothing. As Ryan details in a post much more detailed than anything I would ever write, there is no way that Paterno had no knowledge of the 1998 incident. After the events following the 2002 report there is no other way to spin this as anything other than a conscious cover up.
As for the idea that Paterno did everything in his power and he isn’t to blame for the inaction of his “superiors,” it’s laughable. Joe Paterno has been at Penn State since the beginning of time. He turned it from a state college in podunk town located in a place that might as well be Mississippi into a college football powerhouse that kids grow up dreaming of attending. Joe Paterno has no “superiors” at Penn State. He’s above the Athletic Director, President, and apparently every human being other than Jesus. If Paterno cared about the allegations against Sandusky he could have severed all of Sandusly’s ties to the program immediately or reported him to the relevant authorities himself. In fact, those would have been the correct courses of action for any person in Paterno’s position to take. Sure, Sandusky is innocent until proven guilty and has a right to his own defense, however those rights do not include the right to be around children, which Paterno allowed him to do.
The reaction from my friends who are both Penn State alums and fans has been near unanimous support for Paterno. Penn State students nearly rioted at the news of his firing. I can definitely understand how these people must feel. For years, they’ve looked at Joe Pa as a kind of super-grandpa, a representative of everything right with college football. This should be a happy time for Penn State fans, with Paterno capturing the all-time wins record, instead the program’s reputation is forever tarnished.
To Penn State fans, I offer this advice, although I realize that it may be unwelcome, take a step back and think about all of this. If one of these boys was your son, would you still feel the same way? Instead of protesting Paterno’s firing save your sympathy and outrage for the behalf of the real victims here: the boys whose live Jerry Sandusky has ruined over the past three decades.
That’s all I really care to write about this whole disgusting incident. For a more thorough analysis of the facts, I couldn’t recommend Ryan’s post more.