By now, most people are aware of the sex scandal that has rocked the Pennsylvania State University football program and the university as a whole, as well as the fact that this past Wednesday, longtime head football coach Joe Paterno was fired from his position.
Personally, I feel that Paterno should have at the very least been permitted to finish the season as Penn State’s coach. I know it’s easy to look back now and point fingers and say that he should have done more, but I truly believe that Paterno was doing what he thought was best at the time. From what I have heard, he alerted the athletic director and the vice president of the university, as well as the campus police, even going so far as calling a meeting to discuss the incident. From there, he was allegedly informed that an investigation would be conducted, which apparently never really happened. What more was he supposed to do?
What’s really unfortunate is the fact that amid the scandal, Paterno announced his intentions to retire at the end of the season, being fired hours later in what I perceive to be a hasty decision, to say the least, by Penn State.
The man gave the school 62 years of his life (with this year being his 46th as the head coach of the football team). In the process, he won a Division I college football record 409 games, guiding Penn State to two national championships and five undefeated seasons.
And what really shook me to the core was the fact that they would reward the guy by firing him – over the phone, no less.
That’s right, folks. At this point, while all signs seem to point to Jerry Sandusky being guilty, such a claim has yet to be proven in a court of law.
After that, Penn State’s board of trustees could have convened and made a decision based on the outcome of the case. And even then, I still don’t know that Paterno should have been fired. That would depend on exactly what his role in the entire situation was. If the aforementioned details are true and he indeed reported what he knew to the higher-ups, I don’t see how he could be disciplined. Possibly a four to six-game suspension, but even that is pushing it, in my opinion.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the entire situation is the fact that Mike McQueary, Penn State’s receivers coach, the man who reported seeing Sandusky showering with a 10-year-old boy in 2002, is still being allowed to coach.
I don’t agree with Paterno being let go, but if you’re going to fire him, why not also get rid of the man who was apparently an eyewitness? Isn’t he the one with the most direct responsibility to do something about it?
Instead, the university chose to keep him and do away with one of college football’s all-time greatest coaches, one of sports’ greatest coaches, in fact, without significant evidence showing that he knew anything more than has been reported.
As I thought about these circumstances, I couldn’t help but compare them to the way I would feel if Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s head basketball coach for 30-plus years, were to be fired in a similar situation. I would be absolutely livid.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning the violence that some of Penn State’s student body has resorted to. I think there’s a better way to go about protesting than turning over news vans, trashing property, and fighting with police.
Guess it’s just a tell-tale sign of what “Joe Pa” meant to each and every one of them.