For the last week, the media of the sports world has zeroed in on Happy Valley, Penn. However, the news isn’t happy, but extremely tragic.
Penn State University and Joe Paterno have had a wonderful marriage for the last 45 years. Coach Paterno is not only the face of the football team, but an icon for the university. He has more wins than any other NCAA Div. 1 college football head coach and has led the Nittany Lions to two national championships.
However in light of a sex scandal that has rocked the campus of Penn State, Coach Paterno was fired Wednesday evening.
JoePa, as he commonly referred to, was let go because he failed to follow up on a report that his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was seen sexually abusing a young boy in the Penn St. locker room. A graduate student witnessed the event and told Paterno. Paterno then took that information to PSU athletic director Tim Curley.Â Paterno didn’t follow up with Curley on what happened, but it has now been discovered that Sandusky sexually abused at least eight young boys and has been allowed to walk freely for the last nine years since that incident.
In the five days since charges were handed down by grand jury against Sandusky, the media has been calling for Paterno’s job, citing the fact that he hadn’t done enough to stop the despicable crimes committed by Sandusky, an employee under Paterno.
Although I think he could have and should have done more, Paterno did what he was supposed to do: tell his superior. It is not Paterno’s job to be involved in the personal lives of his former coaches. It is, however, his duty to take care of his players and to win games on the football field. He isn’t the football police, he is the football coach.
The fault lies with Mr. Curley and with the university president, Graham Spanier. They are the ones who should have taken the case to the police and made sure Sandusky was behind bars. Spanier has been fired and Curley has been put on administrative leave, but the same fate shouldn’t have befallen Paterno.
The Penn St. Board of Trustees let Paterno go to stem the media firestorm, and although I understand why they did it, I know he didn’t deserve it. JoePa’s shining legacy will forever be tarnished by the media’s overreaction to this controversy.
This wasn’t the way it supposed to end for a man whom many students saw as not only a head coach, but as a grandfather, or a mentor. He should have left when he was ready, on his own terms.
Joe Paterno has been Penn St. football for the last 45 years, and in my mind, he will continue to be the face of the Nittany Lions.