It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and 10 minutes to ruin it: The Penn State and Joe Paterno saga continues
This is as sad of a story that I think I’ve ever wrote about. Joe Paterno, the man, the myth, the legend and everything he stood for has flown out the window at this point. You would have to be on Mars not to hear the scandalous allegations for the once rock solid program of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with over 40 counts of child molestation, including over nine victims who have been identified to this point. The attorney general of Pennsylvania’s report is just so damning its just no way that anyone in the hierarchy of PSU will survive this and that includes Paterno. There have been scandals all over the country including Miami with Nevin Shapiro, Ohio State with the Buckeye 5, North Carolina and John Blake, Tennessee and Bruce Pearl, USC and Reggie Bush and so on and so forth. But this is of a totally different realm. Joe Paterno stands for everything that is right about college athletics. Paterno has been the coach of Penn State since 1966 and doesn’t have as much as blimp of anything negative about his program. Before this story, Paterno was on the pantheon of all time great individual humans. And not just for college athletics but for everything and everyone that stood for moral decency. His teams are usually good as proven by their surprise 8-1 record this year and leading their division in the Big 10 at the moment. But Joe Pa means much more to people than just football which makes this story so unbelievable. Descriptions of Sandusky’s abuse in the attorney general’s report are just baffling.
The stories of Sandusky’s “Cracking the back” and having Sandusky perform oral sex on him of victim one all the way to victim eight being seen in the shower while getting molested are just an unpleasant thought for anyone to fathom. Sandusky was a sexual predator who ran a charity organization for underprivileged children. How wrong does that sound? His charity “The Second Mile” was founded in 1977. And to top off everything was the fact that it was done right under Joe’s nose. For this to happen in Happy Valley, a place known for being above the fray of normal college shenanigans is another disheartening matter. It’s named Happy Valley for a reason as its has been voted year in and year one the best places to live in America.
Another shocking aspect of this story is how long the investigation has been conducted with the President Graham Spainer and Athletic Director Tim Curley of PSU having full knowledge that they may have a sexual deviant in the midst of their storied program. If you even have the slightest indication someone may be harming children then you should immediately call the police. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. I myself have a child and to just think of someone harming her is enough to stir up emotions and thoughts. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples wrote in his column about how a man in Baton Rouge, LA shot and killed a man 25 years ago for molesting his daughter. You know what the jury sentenced him to? Probation, that’s it. Now I’m not condoning any vigilante justice being served on Sandusky but it’s this particular case just shows the notion of thinking people have when it comes to children being molested. There is no mercy for child predators and why should there be?
Probably the most disturbing part of the entire thing is the way it seems that is a cover up by those in charge. There have been whispers and allegations of Sandusky’s conduct dating back to 1994. In 2009 a report surfaced about Sandusky when he volunteered as an assistant high school football coach at Central Mountain as reported by Pennlive.com High School in Clinton County. A 15-year old student told school officials that Sandusky had touched him inappropriately while they were alone in a gym. John DiNunzio, Keystone Central School District’s interim superintendent at the time, said the boy’s mother reported the incident to the school principal and head football coach. At that point, DiNunzio said he was notified. DiNunzio said he never spoke to the mother or the child. He said the principal and coach told him the boy alleged the “inappropriate” incident happened while the two were alone in a room on wrestling mats. “It was strictly a touching type of situation,” DiNunzio said of the allegations. DiNunzio, who is now interim superintendent with the Bellefonte Area School District, called Clinton County Children and Youth Services. Once it left his desk, he says, he never heard a word from police. “It’s been a hush-hush situation,” DiNunzio said. “I’ve actually called [the school] — they’ve said they heard nothing about it.”
Sandusky is a man who just couldn’t stop himself. To add even more or an insult to everything he did, he published a book titled: “Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story,” It is just mind boggling that a man of his stature would engage in such explicit acts. He is credited with being a defensive wizard who helped turn Penn State to Linebacker U. He has coached greats such as Shane Conlan, Lavar Arrington, and Matt Millen yet he was molesting children all at the same time. There is nothing in my opinion worse than harming children in any kind of way. And for the administration and all involved to cover up this story for the betterment of the school sakes just shakes me to the core.
The saddest and most shameful part of the story is how this will disgrace the legend of Joe Paterno. His numbers are historic: Paterno holds the record for most bowl wins with 24 and bowl appearances with 37. He also coached Penn State to 39 winning seasons. He is the only coach with the distinction of having won each of the current four major bowls -- Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar. Paterno has also led Penn State to two national championships (1982 and 1986) and five undefeated seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994). He won Coach of the Year honors by the AFCA five times (1968, 1978, 1982, 1986 and 2005). On May 16, 2006, Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
But none of that matters anymore.
From now on every time you of Joe Pa, you are forced to think about this awful story. This is a man who built his legend on accountability, doing the right thing, and consistency. He didn’t show any of traits by not reporting the story to the authorities. Yes, he did report it to the proper chain of command but that’s just not enough when it comes to what is expected from college athletics elder’s statesmen. This story is a somber story for everyone involved including Paterno, the victims of Sandusky and the entire Penn State University. They all been stripped away their dignity and now will forever have to answer to this scandal.
Some people are saying let the legal system handle this and until Paterno’s is proven guilty that he has to be given the benefit of doubt. He has after all built up nearly half of century of good will. I want to give him that from the bottom of my heart but this case is just so horrific how can you? There were very few things that Paterno could do to ruin his legacy and near the top of that list would be being involved in something of this magnitude involving children. We the public have every right to ask question and get answers about something as sinister as this story is. I, just like everyone hate the fact that this has happened to Joe Pa but the smoke from Sandusky has been around Paterno for years and he never attempted to smell it and now it’s a full fledged uncontained fire that he can’t put out.
They say it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and 10 minutes to destroy it. Well Paterno’s 10 minute of hell has been unleashed and everything he built has come crumbling thanks to one man named Jerry Sandusky.