A mere 36 hours after Jerry Sandusky’s conviction, the anti-Paterno legions are growing vocal, demanding to tear down Joe’s statue outside Beaver Stadium in return for his allegedly facilitating Sandusky’s disgustingly illegal conduct through the years. I’ll neither defend nor condemn the late head coach here. The pending investigations will determine the extent of his involvement. I’ll merely ask for sanity to prevail. I’ve had to do this too much these days as simple people seem to want to take the simple expedient of rushing to judgement to obtain their simple personal vindication. But real life just ain’t that easy.
All the headline making cases that have come up lately bring these crazies out of the woodwork. They want to convict people because they want to convict people, and they believe they know better than anyone else what should be done. It was like that for Trayvon Martin and Casey Anthony, just to name a couple of cases close to home. These people hide their ignorance of specifics behind the shield of self-righteousness, and inevitably come off looking like fools. When the justice system eventually has done its work, we mostly see that these fools were wrong, and then we never hear from them again. They have no voice in the matter, so they have to make noise. They have no patience, so they have to rattle the cages of anyone who is stupid enough to give them a forum.
The fact is that these people have no idea how deeply Paterno was involved in allowing Sandusky to operate. Graham Spanier might well be the one they should be hanging in effigy. As University President, he could have easily given the gag order on all things Sandusky. He could have threatened everyone else with their jobs if they didn’t agree to sweep the matter under a rug. Ultimately, Spanier is in charge, and even if he knew nothing, he should be held accountable. We don’t know what Paterno knew, either, but Curley and Spanier were his superiors. The whole cover-up thing was not just Joe’s idea. That’s for sure. It might have been the case that Paterno did his job by reporting the incident to his superiors. As he said, in retrospect he should have done more, but that is no reason to pin the whole shebang on him. Culpable for his share of it, sure, but not for the entirety of it, you know damn well that Joe wouldn’t have been so stupid as to be solely responsible. Any idiot, even an egotistical one, who works in a university any length of time knows how to play the CYA game. And we know that Paterno briefed Curley.
This morning, a friend posted a simple question on Facebook: “Should the statue of Joe Paterno at Beaver Stadium come down?” I was flabbergasted by some of the affirmative responses. Several investigations are pending, Paterno has heretofore not been charged with anything or flat out blamed by anyone in a position to have pointed the finger, and it is likely that the culpable negligence will be spread across several high ranking Penn State officials; however, these loudmouthed cowards of the Internet have to “share” their opinions with anyone who will listen, as if they personally knew what went on at Penn State. Some of them have undoubtedly never even visited the campus. Who knows what is the reason for their schadenfreude, but it is always defended from the highest peak of moral rectitude: the chillllllllllldren.
In the immortal words of Joseph V. Paterno uttered frequently at his press conferences, “You guys don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Here are some of the dumbass comments:
2 national championships
Most div 1 wins
All 4 majors bowls
Many kid molested
They are all Jopa’s legacy”
Don’t forget $5 million donated to the university and countless underprivileged kids helped to become first class citizens at the behest of Joe and Sue.
“his statue should come down….give him a plaque in the shower room! for anyone to consider football more important than a child is just rediculous to me! ooo gosh I have STRONG opinions about this!”
I hope your body odor is not as strong as your opinions, but remember, opinions are like assholes: we all have to have one and they all stink. You not only want to chastise us for “[considering] football more important than a child”, as if we are condoning Sandusky’s actions if we dare suggest that Paterno’s statue should stay, but also you have to tell us that you have strong opinions, just in case we hadn’t noticed. In other words, “Congratulations, self! You’re so wonderful! You just saved all these children all by yourself!” What a winner!
“All u ‘We Are’ people are turning a blind eye to ur black eye. Paterno was psu for 50 years. The buck stopped there. The jer had access to school facilities for years after his ‘retirement’. If ur [son] was a victim ‘you’d want the lion’ to rip joepa from limb to limb.
So, you’ve taken up the cause as the victims’ surrogate parent? No Penn State homey in his or her right mind is turning a blind eye. We’re all embarrassed about Sandusky and those who were responsible for enabling his activities. We’re all sorry that all of this happened. We have shed tears for the victims and for Dear Old State. However, we’re not rushing to judgment about Paterno being the one and only responsible party and we refuse to join the hysterical lynch mob that wishes conduct a pre-emptive Depaternoization campaign (c.f. Khruschev, Nikita, Destalinization for Fun and Profit, (Moscow: CCCP Publications, 1956)).
“After they tear down the statue, they can give Mrs. Paterno Joe’s millions that he donated to the school.”
Joe and Sue donated that money together, willingly. What does your stupid suggestion imply? That they bought off university officials to ensure that they were sycophants to Joe and would cover for him? Surely, Joe wielded loads of influence with the administration and the BoT because of his billion dollar external fund raising for the University, which dwarfed the several million he and Sue donated unbegrudgingly and with no strings. You forgot to demand that Paterno’s name be taken off the library, too. That’s probably because you had no idea that his name was on the library, and for that matter, you wouldn’t know Rec Hall from Galen Hall.
“they can send his money to the children who were intentionally abused for the sake of FOOTBALL and the Paterno reputation!”
Another moronic suggestion. This is about as likely to occur as Santa Claus coming in July. Listen here, dumbass, none of us want to see children molested! Some of us are football fans. The two notions can mix. Are you saying that every football coach, player, and fan has blood on his or her hands?
These hysterical and self-serving comments are typical of a segment of the population in this country today. They want things to happen right away, fair or unfair. That’s how we elect presidents who promise “change” and deliver nothing. People want instant gratification. They want their scapegoat. What happens when they get what they want? Well, the fun for them is over, so they go after the next guy, fair or unfair. Nothing but hypocrisy.
With Sandusky put away, Paterno is the next target. If Paterno’s memory is suitably besmirched for these yokels, then maybe they’ll go after Spanier. But they never will be satisfied until they play the blame game all the way to the destruction of the institution itself. That’s the way the small minds work.
The institution has suffered enough destruction and will be dragged through the mud while pending investigations and present and future criminal and civil cases are tried and adjudicated. We should all be working toward rebuilding its reputation and restoring its rich tradition. Instead, the schadenfreude brigade will not be satisfied until the University is penalized by the NCAA and the Federal Government, while being sued into bankruptcy by the families of the victims.
I was watching Twitter while waiting for the Sandusky verdict Friday night. Twitterites were impatiently tweeting crap like, “What’s taking so long? He’s guilty. This should be a slam-dunk for any jury.” First of all, anyone who writes garbage like that probably has never sat on a jury of any consequence, if they’ve even sat on a jury at all. Beyond that, this type of mob psychology is nothing short of lynch mob mentality. Most of us believed that Sandusky was guilty, but damn few of us were content to let the justice system run its course. I am pleased with the outcome, but unhappy that a dangerous mob element exists in our society. If the trial were in Chicago or Atlanta instead of Bellefonte, it might have become violent.
I want people to reel themselves in and be sane again. Sure, we’ve all suffered wounds because of the perverted actions of the deranged tickle monster; we “We Are Penn State” alums and associates have suffered greater wounds than the rest (or is this partially OUR fault, too?). Think! Think long and hard about how petty and vindictive you are to call for taking Paterno’s statue down before the completion of any of the pending investigations. Let Joe rest in peace for a while, let his family have a quiet moment, and wait until you know what the hell actually happened before you blow wind straight out your ass!
We Are — Still and Forever!
Your question “should Paterno’s statue be taken down” is hard for me to answer, if only because I don’t think it should have been erected in the first place. Athletic coaches, no matter how much they’ve “done for the university” or how many “young men they have molded”, don’t do anything important enough to warrant statutes, IMO
But, since the statute is already there, it would be cowardly to remove it unless there is proof that Joe engaged in a cover-up of Sandusky’s activities. Failing to go directly to the police based on McQuery’s hazy description is not enough.
Personally, I think the haters are going to be very disappointed by the verdicts on Curley and Schultz. If the prosecution can’t produce some written corroboration to McQuery’s testimony, I’ll bet they walk. Gricar’s lack of action on the prior molestation allegation gives them good cover for doing nothing.
The Nittany Turkey says
Al, I am not certain whether you are a PSU alum, but I suspect not because you would have known that Joe and Sue Paterno did much more than just produce football players. (I have some strong things to say about subsidizing underqualified students who happen to be good athletes being tantamount to running a semi-pro football organization to the detriment of education, but that’s another story for another time.) What about the $5 million Joe and Sue donated to the library. What about Sue’s program to tutor deserving kids? I’m not saying that the Paternos are gods. However, their service to the university was extraordinary.
That said, I agree with you that erecting a statue to a living and still active head coach, no matter how much of a legend he is, is problematical to the extent that it really shouldn’t have happened. The risk of lionizing a living legend (pun intended) is that something similar to what actually happened would occur. Shit can and does happen.
For what it’s worth, I’m a third generation Penn Stater with both a BS (1967) and MS (1972). That means I have a longer, different perspective on Penn State academics and football than the post 1980 graduates.
Paterno was obviously the most successful football coach Penn State ever had, but he didn’t build the program from scratch. State had unbeaten teams and All American players before he showed up and some of the coaches that preceded him were pretty good too.
Although he raised a lot of money and generated favorable publicity for State, he didn’t have as much impact on the school’s academic success as the teaching and research faculty did. Penn State is what it is today because of the contributions of many people over multiple generations. People who are mostly anonymous and don’t have statues dedicated to them.
The Nittany Turkey says
You were pretty much a contemporary of mine, Al. We probably both did a few shifts guarding the Nittany Lion shrine on the eve of the Syracuse game. Thus, I understand your perspective. Yours and mine are similar.
So you and I both remember the 1964 OSU game, which was coached by Rip Engle. I liked the Ripper. I never knew Higgins, but his record speaks for itself.
However, I cannot minimize Paterno’s contributions. Somehow, the institution managed to transform itself from a mediocre A & M kind of place to the research oriented giant it is today. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have happened without Joe — that would be stupid. The football success of the 1960s-1990s didn’t hurt the image a bit, and was responsible for a lot of those mostly anonymous people who donated their time, energy, and money to the cause.
Anyhow, the statue is there and it should say. What good is kicking a dead guy? Vicarious vindication for the Penn State haters? They’ll never be satisfied until the name of the institution is changed to Penn Shame and Old Main is draped in black crepe.
Matt Evangelista says
In no way should the statue of JoePa come down! It’s there now, whether people wanted it or not. And now that Joe is gone, it rightly deserves its place at the stadium. Too many people are hung up on if Joe knew more than was told. To them JoePa should be held accountable. Well, he’s gone, so we’ll never know. But, a coach, a man, who held such high standards for his players, does anyone honestly think he wouldn’t have done the right thing? As an alum some may think I am biased. No. Unfortunately, this will linger in people’s minds for many years. Rightly so, what Sandusky did is wrong, very wrong, and justice prevailed. He’s where he belongs now for what he did to those children. We need to find a way to move forward and help those kids involved. I think too many people forget them in this. They are the ones people need to focus on, not statues and the like.
The Nittany Turkey says
It’s easy to kick a dead man, isn’t it?
I think Joe got caught in the squeeze between his morality and his loyalty. As I’ve oft stated, I believe that Spanier made the decision to sweep the affair under the rug, misguidedly, for the sake of the institution’s public image (i.e., money). Although Joe had his own way and might not have always agreed with Spanier, for him to directly contravene an order from the top that would cause things at PSU to blow sky high would be unJoelike. He undoubtedly struggled to accept the cover up. As he said later, “In retrospect, I should have done more.”
It is easy for people sitting on the sidelines to take the high moral ground in condemning someone involved in that sort of moral dilemma. They’re the ones who say they would have had that longshot winner at the racetrack, if only they had gone.
Lots of people would like to take down Penn State, Paterno, and anything symbolic of our tradition — not unlike Islamic terrorists wanting to take down symbols of American power and freedom.
AL SCHADE says
Penn State ’82 grad here. My thoughts, feel free to rip me.
What happened at our beloved Penn State is nothing less than true evil.
An evil that, more than likely, persisted for decades. An evil that would have been stopped if any of the knowing parties had a smidgen of moral decency.
Seriously, are any of you proud of the way Paterno handled this? Really?
The “Joepa absolved himself by reporting IT” defense is pathetic. How many times did Paterno see Sandusky with a kid after the initial suspicion? Joe’s refusal to press the issue is indefensible.
The Nittany Turkey says
Proud of Joe’s handling of the situation? No. No one is proud.
Joe’s refusal to press the issue is indefensible because it is not for us to defend or castigate him. He is dead. None of us will ever know all the details. Joe said, “In retrospect, I wish I had done more.” No one asked him the obvious follow-up question: “What kept you from doing so?”
We’ll never know.
AL SCHADE says
What’s your take on the just released email trail? Not looking good for Joepa. It’s getting sicker each day.
The Nittany Turkey says
See my subsequent post on the subject, Emails Reveal Spanier Complicity.
I’ve felt the urge to join the masses asking for the JoPa statue to be torn down, but your piece has made me think things through a little. The fact is, I don’t really know how much Joe was involved, nor do I know how much he could have done, or even did. I’m going to back down from my stance for now, and let the investigation be my guide on how to proceed. If it becomes clear that Joe really did all he could, then I’ll believe that’s the case and remember Joe as a great man and coach who ended his career with an ugly situation in the background.
On the other hand, should the investigation show that Joe could have done more and chose not to (for whatever reason), then I’ll feel quite the opposite.
I hope that you fans of PSU do the same. If it were my school, I would want to defend her tooth and nail, so I understand the reaction. However, I would also want to know all the facts before taking a stand. I hope you do the same.
And good luck to you all through the difficult weeks and month ahead.
The Nittany Turkey says
Much has changed since I wrote the above post. Obviously, the major event has been the release of the Freeh Report. I hope you get a chance to read subsequent posts of mine and the intelligent comments by my readers.
Personally, I do not believe that Joe did all he could. My history with Paterno goes back to 1964, and I think I knew him pretty well, albeit from afar. He ran the football program with an iron hand. Also, Tim Curley, who was nominally his boss, was actually a sycophant who took orders from Joe. At the time Joe had the dual role of AD and head coach, he groomed Curley to slide into the AD role, essentially ceding the rest of the Title IX sports and the administrative crapola to him, while still retaining absolute authority over the football program. Joe is no dummy. He achieved power through the years, and consolidated and entrenched it. At the end, he was arguably the most powerful figure in the university.
I have every intention of supporting Penn State as an institution; however, I will place the football program in its appropriate perspective. If we had four corrupt leaders, then these were men, and men come and go. The greatness of PSU is not measured on the football field or by who staffs the ivory tower; it is measured by significant research, quality education, robust facilities, and like it or not, the #2 ranking among party schools in one recent year.
Barry Switzer won a lot of games at OU, but do you still think of him as the face of the university? Hell, no. Did Barry actually sell the coke to undercover agents? Nope, a player did. Did Barry cover up the illegal activities? I don’t know. He resigned rather than being dragged through that mud.
The same thing will be true of Paterno 20 years from now. He will no longer be the face of the university. It will be painful for the first couple of years, but we can and we must move on.