Board had to walk the lion, Paterno out
Many emotions are floating around Happy Valley right now and obviously "happy" isn't one of them. Mad, sad, disgusted, and hurt are more appropriate feelings for the black cloud that is currently hovering over State College. In the midst of that black cloud are a bevy of terrible scenarios that ultimately resulted in the dismissal of Head Football Coach Joe Paterno.
The problem with this whole situation is that we don't know what actually happened when Mike McQueary told Joe Paterno about what he saw in that locker room shower. We do know that Paterno reported the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley and VP of Business and Finance Gary Schultz. Schultz and Curley then took the report to Graham Spanier. We also know that once the report reached the top nothing else was done. Campus police were supposedly notified, but the incident was dismissed as "horsing around."
Reportedly, Sandusky was banned from bringing children to practice and was banned from the facility himself. However, reports surfaced Tuesday afternoon that Sandusky was granted access to the weight room facility as recently as last week.
The real question is why didn't McQueary, Paterno, Curley, Schultz, and Spanier tell the authorities about what McQueary reported? I understand all the vantage points and arguments about why certain things were done and why some things weren't. The simple facts remains that somebody should have reported the incident to the authorities. Knowing the moral standard of Joe Paterno and the fact that he didn't follow up on the situation it is a very hard thing to grasp, but that appears to be the case.
Even more startling is that Sandusky was allowed on campus, even after it was known in 2008 that Sandusky was being investigated for child abuse. How in the earth could the coaching staff and university officials ever let that happen? After the alleged 2002 incident, Sandusky was told to no longer bring children to practice, suggesting that Penn State officials basically said "just don't do it here."
Wednesday night at 10 p.m. the news broke that Paterno was out along with President Graham Spanier. The decision was made by the Penn State Board of Trustees and didn't come as a surprise to many in media circles. Paterno released a statement Wednesday saying that he was planning on retiring after the season and told the Board of Trustees "to no longer concentrate on his status and that they had more important things to deal with." It's apparent that Paterno was being advised what to say. The statement itself pretty much proclaimed that Paterno still wanted to dictate his own future, which sadly after all the recent findings was no longer his to dictate.
So this brings us to this question: should the Board of Trustees let Paterno finish out the season or at least coach Saturday? I want to say yes, and I do believe that Paterno has earned the right to go out in a graceful and dignified manner. The problem is were talking about the welfare of young children. The most sacred of things in our society today is young people and whenever you here allegations like the allegations against Sandusky it sickens people to the core.
Hypothetically, say Paterno was able to coach Saturday against Nebraska. The Nittany Lions played well, kept the game close, and ended up kicking a field goal to win the game as time expired. The crowd would be in a frenzy, the players would hoist Paterno on their shoulders, and all would be good once again in Happy Valley.
Now imagine those nine victims at home watching 108,000 people celebrating an institution and coach that when they had the chance to maybe stop any further incidents from occurring they did nothing. That scenario would basically be saying that one man and his legacy is more important than the victims of Sandusky.
Paterno is an icon and as much as I try to divorce myself from the situation I still would have wanted to see Coach Paterno on the sidelines Saturday. I wanted to see him lead the blue and white out onto the field for one last time. I do understand why the Board of Trustees ousted him and I respect the decision, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.