As an avid football fan and one of the few Pennsylvania natives at Quinnipiac, I was asked many times over for my thoughts on the firing of Penn State Head Football Coach Joe Paterno and the entire situation that unfolded.
Well, my thoughts are that JoePa, President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, Senior vice president Gary Schultz and Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, all needed to be fired.
Paterno is a legend and an essential piece of Americana. There is a statue of him outside of Penn State’s football stadium. He was universally revered for his ability to run a National Championship caliber program the “right way.” This is not Ohio State or Miami. This is Penn State.
As a result of that standing, this entire ordeal is even more shocking. My friend and high school classmate Ken Pollock who plays linebacker for Penn State posted on Facebook “I have lost all faith in humanity.”
I have no desire to address the actions of Jerry Sandusky. It is absolutely horrific and we all agree on that. The riots in Happy Valley were not about Sandusky, obviously. The riots were about an entire generation of kids feeling completely heartbroken that their most visible and revered leader had to exit like that.
A Facebook status that was circulating around the profiles of my Penn State friends about the riots said, in part, “We aren’t stupid or naive. We know Joe Paterno has culpability. We know he could have made different choices–he admitted that. We don’t think he is God or always perfect or saintly. But he is the greatest college football coach ever, and he is PSU family, and we don’t want his exit to be like this.”
Joe Paterno did nothing illegal. He followed university procedure and told who he needed to tell. An investigation was held, but the Pennsylvania State Police were not notified. That is where the fault of the university lies. That is the reason why Curley and Schultz have been indicted.
President Graham Spanier stepped down, not because he did anything illegal, but because having knowledge of this wrongdoing and doing nothing about it is morally reprehensible. The same goes for Paterno.
I wish JoePa could have finished the season and retired like he promised he would. He means so much more to Pennsylvania than simply being a football coach.
It is because he holds such an elevated standing to multiple generations that so much more is expected of him. Joe Paterno made a very large mistake and he is rightly paying for it with his legacy.