Ten Yard Fight: Joe Paterno Has No Place in College Football...Ever Again

1. The Penn State story is simply disgusting. Please know that first and foremost, this story is about kids being taken advantage of in one of the worst and most horrifying ways imaginable. That should be what matters most going forward. I felt the need to say that up front because I do think there is more going on but I didn't want it to seem like my priorities were out of whack. You see, once again, people in positions of power found themselves with a choice: to either do the right thing regarding the abuse of young kids or make sure that the world kept revolving around them. Guess which one they chose? How F#*ked up is that? What is worse, these people work at a school!! They implore parents from all over the country to send their children to attend their institution! As far as I'm concerned, Penn State's brochures should have warning labels at least as shocking as cigarette boxes.

2. If you are Joe Paterno, and you are told that a former colleague of yours was engaged in the kind of behavior he was witnessed engaging in on the school's premises, how are you satisfied that passing on that information to the school's administration is enough? I only ask because Sandusky was reportedly still around the school/team facilities as recently as LAST WEEK!!! What did you think happened after you "reported" your friend? He was absolved and rehabilitated? Maybe the innocence that was stolen from those little kids was returned, intact?

3. Sorry JoePa, you can't claim the moral high ground here. You have sat in the living rooms of how many young boys and their families? You have spent how many days of your life assuring parents that their kids were not only safe at Penn State but that they were, in fact, protected with an extra layer of protection as a member of your football team? Come on, man.

4. I will stop shorter than some people who might suggest that JoePa is somehow as guilty as Sandusky. Until evidence supports such a claim, there has to be a distinction. That said, these crimes were committed by a man who seemed to really use his position and standing with Paterno to perpetrate them. To hear Joe Paterno suggest he did everything he was required to do by passing along information to questionable men is a joke. You don't get to be in Joe Paterno's position without being able to understand what kind of man your athletic director is...or any of the surrounding staff. Hell, you could argue that you don't get to Joe Paterno's position without being able to essentially hire your own athletic director.

5. Think of all the ways Joe Paterno has exercised his power over the years. Think of the actual, real power he has generated and administrated during his metamorphosis from man into Legendary Man. Think of both the real and imagined power that millions of people have assigned to him for no other reason than he won college football games. In this instance, don't you think there was a way that the "Joe Paterno" everyone thought existed could have gone a little farther than passing along a second-hand report of impropriety? You know...maybe to help a kid or two?

6. I want to know who the Nittany Lions were recruiting that year, at that time. I GUARANTEE you it was a player or players that they felt they could not afford to lose to news like this. We are beyond naive if we think that this was not a thought of someone at the time. I can imagine there were worse agendas prioritized than this, but the mere fact that we would believe that is bad enough.

7. Here is what we know about college football from the more recent headlines--not that ANY of this comes as a surprise: prestigious college football programs are literally surrounded by unsavory characters. College coaches and their staffs have ostensibly been on the front lines trying to fight away these wolves in sheep's clothing. Money, money, money...the figures involved have been astronomical, from the money these institutions make to the money athletes have allegedly been given. And yet, all along, you could generally point to a two-way street of impropriety. The boosters were willing to pay and certain athletes were willing to get paid. Today, the line between coach/guardian is blurred completely. Worse, what we once thought to be the worst thing your college team could be guilty of is now something we would PRAY TO HAVE instead of a sexual abuse cover-up.

8. I think back fondly to the time when money was the biggest thing ruining college football...it was last week. If you look at a map of the United States, you could put your finger on dozens of spots where a college football program enjoys the kind of absolute power necessary to not only perpetrate this kind of crime, but also to cover it up. Seriously...this incident has raised THOSE kinds of questions. Think about it: if this headline had been provided to you without any names or faces, how many guesses would it have taken you to just guess Penn State? How long would it have taken you to just guess Joe Paterno? He was one of the guys you would never in a million years have associated with this kind of scandal.

9. I watch these guys on TV on Saturdays coaching big games with the country's best football talent on the field and I know...I just know that most of these men are capable of being decent human beings. Yet, we are reminded again and again that many of them simply don't look at the rest of us with the same basic respect that we give them. It should slap us in the face. It rarely does.

10. This last one is a difficult one to put out there, but I will and I ask that the Hogs Haven community be very careful with the way they treat it. As a Catholic, I have been disgusted with the way the Church has handled this very same kind of situation. I have shared in the shame and dishonor of those improprieties as a member of the Church. Is it possible that yet another sacred institution considered itself bigger than the "Right Thing To Do?" Is it possible that yet another group of self-righteous individuals put their own agendas, fears and wallets ahead of the needs of innocent children? We should all share in that shame at least a little bit in my opinion. We are not guilty of any crime, but until we recognize the role we play in the deification of crooked individuals and hold ourselves accountable AT LEAST for that, this problem will play out in another town, to the shock of another fanbase...and the victimization of another group of innocent children. None of us can afford that.

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