You’ve all read the media take on the information recently released by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in the case of Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Penn State’s insurer, with the University. Whether Penn State was negligent in allowing the Sandusky molestations to occur was a central issue.
Sworn testimony by witnesses, if correct, opens old wounds and throws salt in them, revealing that Joe Paterno could have known as early as 1976 that Jerry Sandusky was a child molester, and at that time he had indeed waved the accuser away, stating that he didn’t have time for that kind of stuff, that he had a football season to worry about. Beyond Paterno, names that have never before surfaced in this case came to the fore as potentially having been aware of the Tickle Monster’s pedophilia. Those names include Tom Bradley and Greg Schiano, both of whom are now defensive coordinators at other universities, UCLA and Ohio State, respectively. They both deny everything.
The Penn State Administration has declined comment on the entire affair. President Eric J. Barron sent out a letter stating that there would be no comment whatsoever, stating that it had already been covered by media, and that the University’s overriding concern was for the victims of the Sandusky abuse. What else could he say?
Barron did provide a paragraph of hand-waving defense for Paterno, Schiano, and Bradley:
Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves.
True, Paterno is dead and the others have moved on. It was particularly interesting to this turkey that Bradley, who had stated many times that he was a Pennsylvania boy who would not stray far from the Keystone State, wound up in Los Angeles. His first non-PSU job at WVU I could understand, but UCLA was out of character. Did he accept the UCLA job in the interest of getting out of Dodge or did he merely readjust his life goals when a top-tier opportunity arose?
I don’t consider myself gullible, but I can believe that Paterno swept lots of crap under the rug during his lifetime at Penn State, and it’s no stretch to include that 1976 encounter. Perhaps St. Joe’s halo is a bit tarnished now even among his staunchest and most reverent supporters. Even those who sanctify Joe and his achievements know that “Culture of Football” is an apt moniker for the damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead approach of the Paterno Era. If you’re offended by my saying so, tough shit, but you’re in denial if you think running a football program is all tailgating and cuddly puppies. There’s shit to be shoveled, too, and to succeed, you’ve got to stoke the shit furnace.
Perhaps it was a different age 40 years ago, but although society and its mores have evolved onto some strange paths in that time, one very relevant notion has remained constant. Child molesters were reviled then and they are reviled now. If a kid or a parent came to Paterno with a report of Sandusky molesting a kid in the shower, Paterno should have acted on it. He had a moral and legal obligation to do so. Brushing it aside only speaks to the imperial bearing of the Paterno Administration. President Richard M. Nixon shouldn’t have given Texas the presidential MNC blessing; what he should have done instead is to have awarded the Paterno Administration the Nixonian Medal of Duplicity.
I still believe that many of the ideals of the Paterno Era were real and good — really good: Success with Honor; The Grand Experiment; superb graduation rate. These were great things. Things to be proud of. Things to live our lives by. I don’t think they were superficial or hypocritical; however, I’m nonetheless personally prepared to believe that in being so driven by the central theme of success of the field, Paterno could have easily brushed off someone making a serious allegation against one of his assistants — just as easily as he typically attempted to circumvent the student disciplinary process at Penn State in order to keep his players on the field. But then again, we ran Vicky Triponey out of town because she dared to suggest that St. Joe engaged in the latter. We believed in Joe’s rectitude, his judgement, his morals — the whole ball of wax. The godlike Joe would never let an incident like this get swept away because he had important football issues — or would he?
It is more than plausible that the anonymous witness making the 1976 allegation is entirely correct. I’m not even slightly incredulous over this possibility. No, I’m outraged that Joe did nothing.
Sort of sheds new light on the famous Paterno deathbed quote, “In retrospect, I could have done more.” Boy, does that ever ring truer than true now!
There will be some PSU homey cynics who handwave that media speculation is 180 degrees from the reality of St. Joe, whose halo will never be tarnished, by God! Some Paternoists will never believe in the slightest that St. Joe might even be fallible, let alone culpable. Some others will rationalize that it was overblown in 1976, when St. Joe properly dismissed the whole thing. I think these Paternoists make it an issue of faith in spite of the preponderance of evidence. Nothing bad ever happens at Penn State. Yeah, right.
If the sworn testimony is true, Mr. Paterno turned his back on Sandusky’s shower shenanigans for at least 35 years. That would include a lot of years when Sandusky was employed by Paterno and directly reported to him. This strips away one feeble defense, which was that Sandusky didn’t work for Paterno at the time; he was merely given space in the Lasch Building.
These revelations come at an interesting time. The lettermen had just publicly asked the Penn State administration to restore the Paterno statue to its former glorious position.
Fat chance of that happening now!
The Nittany Turkey says
I got one comment before I wrote this, which I’ll share.
I resented Joe Paterno since the 2000’s, but mainly because of his being senile, headstrong, and arrogant. However, since his earliest success, I was always amazed at how he regaled about not knowing how much money he made or who his boss was. How could each puppet athletic director never ask that question? Or the governor, or the university president not want to define such a matter? Or us? What a shame to allow silly winning to preempt such an issue.
How do Moe Russell, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Matt Millen and Lavar Arrington feel now about the man they extolled? Or did he wait until 1976 to go bad? How much better were Jackie Sherrill and Barry Switzer than Joe Paterno?
Most of all, what is Rip thinking? or Bob Cousy.
The Nittany Turkey says
WALT wrote the above. Just sayin…
Big Al says
Welcome back Turkey. I was beginning to think that you had croaked over the summer.
It’s strange, but I had the same initial reaction that you did to the 1976 allegation from the football camper who said Sandusky stuck his finger up his rectum. Unlike Ganim’s star alligator, whose story struck me as being me being total bullshit, the camper’s story seemed credible. Neverthless, the guy might have been lying to collect the money. Dear Old State was handing out around $3 Million per case and that’s certainly a powerful motivation to make up a story. If he’s lying, he’s pretty good at it. Maybe Hollywood should hire him to write the screenplay for Joe Paterno biopic.
Joking aside, that allegation is a potential game changer because it’s the first believable instance of an actual victim telling Paterno that he had been abused.. It wasn’t like McQueary’s semi coherent story that he saw Sandusky doing “something with a boy.” So, perhaps Joe’s character didn’t measure up to his reputation (to paraphrase another, somewhat better coaching icon). If that allegation is true, it will be sad day for all those Gen X and millennial Penn Staters who regarded Joe as a substitute father figure – assuming that they ever stop drinking the blue KoolAde.
To me, Joe was just a damn good football coach (for the first 25 years of his tenure anyway) who genuinely cared about the welfare of his football players. Nothing more and nothing less. Sadly, despite all his posing to the contrary, maybe Joe’s primary goal in life really WAS just winning football games and not the “grand experiment.”
The Nittany Turkey says
Good to see you, Al. I hope you’re having a good summer football withdrawal season.
I know that any time someone dangles a potential for a big payday, there are those who view it as a prime opportunity for fraudulent gain. But while someone intent on defrauding PSU out of a pot of gold might have a half-assed chance of succeeding, they’re playing a dangerous game trying to defraud insurance companies. Assuming that the insurance company isn’t contriving their case against Penn State by collecting random allegations from its claimants, I’m prepared to believe that the claims were thoroughly investigated, as is an insurers wont. I think there’s very little chance that the guy whose rectal virginity was eradicated by Ol’ Jer was fabricating the story.
I’m also thinking that the Penn State Administration’s silence says a lot.
Lots of Sanguinarians will develop a convenient mental block about this. They’ll regard it as a media conspiracy or some similar paranoid notion. They’ll never accept the fact that St. Joe could have possibly had such a lapse.
In the end, we might indeed discover that it wasn’t a lapse, but it was Joe’s way. Your final paragraph proposes that sad assessment very well.
Well I guess I will also say welcome back and I was also prepared to start checking the obituaries, but I couldn’t remember in what part of Florida you live(d).
So call me what you like, but I could care less about the latest revelations regarding “St Joe”. He’s dead and depending on whether any of us get to meet him in the afterlife, we will never know what did or did not happen. Do I care about 1976, no. Do I care about a statue being reinstalled, not a tinker’s damn. I trust McQueary, JayPa and the rest of the characters about as far as I can spit, because they all have some motive/motivation for acting like Sgt Schultz and famously saying “I seeee nuthingggg!”
What punishment would you hand out if the 1976 statement were true? You can’t impinge anymore on Paterno’s character; that train left the station a long time ago with opinions one way or the other that are not going to ever change. What do you do with Schiano or Bradley fire them? That will probably happen in due time anyway based on their teams performance. Penalize PS-no one will beat that horse with the same stick again. Don’t put back the statue? I hope they forgot where they stored that thing and it never shows up again.
To me, the biggest deal was all the stuff that PS put in place to make sure something like this has an extremely low probability of ever escaping detection for as long as it did. I just did the Master Gardener program through PS Dept of Agriculture and had to go through the mandatory training and clearances and it is formidable.
So for me this is water over the dam, under the bridge or down the drain and the question of whether “St Joe” had anything to do with this has already been answered when he had his entrance interview with the man upstairs.
So I am anxiously awaiting your preseason prediction of gloom and doom for the 2016 version of the Lions and the weekly banter that you engage in so well!
Thanks for listening!
The Nittany Turkey says
Howya doing, Joe? Good to see you after my writing hiatus. I hope you’re enjoying your garden this summer especially now that you have earned the PSU credentials. Thanks for your comments, as always.
I’m not looking to hand out punishment. You know where I’m going with this. I pretty much want some people who still think St. Joe was a pillar of family friendly goodness through and through to do a reality check. He ran a major, money driven football program. He ain’t no saint — the human lapses and expedients are completely in character for a CEO of such a program. The lionization overshoot for this particular old Lion needed to be reeled in. Sue ran the family friendly end of things; Joe ran the sordid world of big-college football at Penn State.
I don’t particularly care about Bradley or Schiano. They’re history at Penn State, and I wish them well in the future. They’re probably also lying turds who are bound by the academic principle of omerta, the concept for which I’ve suffered eternal agita.
I’m not wanting to punish anyone. I just want to open a few eyes that are glued shut by blind reverence and faith in mere mortals. Let these revelations serve as a lesson to non-cynics that all is not always as pretty as the virtual PR department says it is. Sanguinarians can believe what they want to believe if it gives them comfort, but if people continue to pay adulation to false heroes, they’ll ultimately go morally bankrupt. That’s all. I don’t want to destroy people’s faith in heroes; I want to cause them to be more cynical about deciding who the true heroes are.
I live in the Orlando area, so any further obituary checks should involve the Orlando Sentinel.
I’m trying to find the time to get into the pre-season analysis soon, but I’m still up to my ass. I’ll try to be a regular presence to avert potential obituary searches, even if it means spewing irrelevant bullshit here.
K. John says
As always, until I see actual evidence that any of the principles involved did anything wrong regarding Sandusky, and we really haven’t, I see no reason to doubt their actions. I do not consider a simple allegations to be evidence whether it was made under oath or not.