JoePa’s fall: Not enough of something
Joe Paterno was the most recognizable college football coach.
Joe Paterno was the cleanest coach in sports.
Joe Paterno was the greatest thing Penn State ever had.
Joe Paterno was.
What Joe Paterno is now a mystery. Will he be the greatest college football coach of all time? Will he be the greatest attribute that Penn State ever had? Will he be great at all?
Or will the fastest and most fantastic fall from grace plunder his career and legacy and diminish him to a has-been who blew it all after not doing enough?
I, for one, haven’t decided.
Joe Paterno was told by a graduate assistant (Mike McQueary, now the receiving coach), in 2002, that one of his coaches, Jerry Sandusky, was seen having sexual relations with a young child. Paterno notified the Athletic Director, who conducted a quick investigation, took away the locker room keys from Sandusky and notified Sandusky’s children’s charity, The Second Mile. No further action is taken. Not by the University, Joe Paterno, the Athletics Department, or Mike McQueary.
The allegations came to light a few days ago after Sandusky was arrested.
Tuesday morning, Paterno announces that he will retire at the end of the season. Finish up what he started this year. Stand by his football team, currently ranked No. 12 in the nation. Tuesday night, the State University, Pennsylvania Board of Trustees fires the University President, and legendary coach Joe Paterno.
If I think about it hard enough, I want to say it is the right decision. Joe Paterno did something, but he didn’t do enough of something. Paterno, who did everything for Penn State, giving much of his time and money–his entire life to the institution of both college football and academics, protecting the students from the game by ensuring their grades were high, and that they finished their education, did not, in the end, protect his students. Paterno did not stop a child molester.
And that, in the end, is all that matters.