this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
It's official. Ted Roof coming back to Big Ten as DC for the Nittany Lions.
Roof was DC at Minnesota in 2008 - the last year they hit a bowl game, finishing 7-6.
You will remember Roof's defense when Rich Rodriguez and walk-on QB Nick Sheridan shredded the Gophers 29-6 in the anti-septic Metrodome.
When Nikita Khrushchev addressed his fellow Soviets in 1953 following his succession to leadership of the USSR, he delivered what would become known as “the Secret Speech”. Its content sought to unveil his predecessor, Josef Stalin, the mass murderer and ruthless dictator that had maintained public opinion steadily in favor of him, whether by appeal or fear. These methods were captured in the phrase “cult of personality”. Despite Stalin’s horrendous acts (many of which Khrushchev still refused to condemn, as he would need the same actions to retain power) the Russian people continued to veritably worship their leader, something which Khrushchev needed to correct both to fall in line with Party ideology and lead effectively.
Joe Paterno has forged a similar cult at State College for over sixty years. This past week, the curtain has been pulled back. The king is dead.
While Paterno did not doctor photos, order assassinations of rivals, or produce propaganda to keep his job as head coach and de facto autocrat of the small Pennsylvania town, he used his aw-shucks demeanor and commitment to worthy ideals to centralize his authority and mold the football program, in an already tight-knit community, into a fortress. Football coaches across the country have long sought the personality cult that “Joe Pa” crafted for Penn State football. The Nittany Lions were embodied in him so completely that the surreal scenes of students rioting in State College ought come as no surprise.
Jerry Sandusky’s disgusting and unconscionable tale has already been recounted many times, and I have no desire to go into that again. What remains is the fallout.
Before late Wednesday night it appeared that while the university president and athletic director would be immediately removed, the coaching legend would be allowed to retire in a relative amount of style. Before late Wednesday night, he would coach his final home game Saturday and continue leading his team in oblivion towards winning the Leaders division, to the B1G championship game, and yet another bowl. Before late Wednesday, the person ultimately morally responsible for the actions of the football program at Penn State would retain (albeit for a time) at least titular, and as I suspect, quite tangible control of the program.
The board of trustees’ choice to depose Paterno is obviously the right one, and they should be commended for it. The backlash in State College from disgruntled students and bewildered players is amplified by the thousands of PSU alums voicing their support for Paterno on the internet. And it is absolutely despicable, yet absolutely understandable.
When a person of such lauded moral high ground as Paterno fails, it shocks the world, and too often appalls little. Regardless of your metaphysical and religious views, the fact is that any human can and often will fail. It’s cases where the failure shreds the work of a lifetime into scraps of what legacy had previously been taken for granted. The risk of embodiment of a football program in one person, from Paterno to Wooden to Krzyzewski to, dare I say, Schembechler, is inherently risky. Trusting the ruler to tread flawlessly always is what we expect is impossible. Everyone does make mistakes (insert Terrelle Pryor joke here). It’s the degree and management of these mistakes that separates the legends from the ordinary.
And of those names I just dropped, one clearly does not belong with the others any more. Its time to destroy Paterno’s cult of personality. The victims cry for justice and PSU students would rather “demonstrate” outside their leader’s home, rather than look the harsh realities in the face as Khrushchev did. It’s easier that way, but it’s also wrong.
P.S. I am not a Communist nor do I think Khrushchev is by any means a stellar person. Just wanted to illustrate the most prominent reference of the term. Nor are Stalin and Paterno equivalents. Their followers have acted in a similar manner.
This is your Penn State Thread for the next couple of days. The following items should not be posted in a new thread anymore and will be deleted:
1. Any media personality's opinion on the scandal
2. An article about the scandal
3. "WTF this is whack" reactions
4. Basically anything else about the controversy
Here's the deal--Paterno is out at the end of the year. Everyone else is getting fired or "resigning." The accusations are appalling and now that there are rumors of Federal involvement, the sledgehammer that is the criminal justice system is going to exact very angry revenge in the coming months.
As I type this, 40% of board topics are about this topic. The obvious lessons are to never forget and always do the right thing--even when it is incredibly hard. Please do so in your personal life going forward.
I'm not doing this to be a jerk. We just need to try and control the chaos.
How many of you believe in fidelity but once cheated? Or believe in not stealing but have stolen? Believe in honestly but have lied? I could go on with a list of sins that would eventually encompass everyone on this blog and on earth. We have all failed at one point to live up to the standards we champion and would wish to communicate to others.
When we fail to live up to our standards and are caught violating them, does that invalidate the standards themselves? Does that mean our lives have been a lie? Does that mean, as Six Zero wrote today:
"Learning that the ethical standards that went hand in hand with Joe Paterno were not only inaccurate, but has also cost him his immortal job status? Well, it's like waking up one day and finding that the United States is secretly run by a Communist dictator."
Or, as Brian wrote: "Should we forget all the good Paterno has done in our "rush to judgment"? Yes, and yes. This is a failure so massive it wipes out every positive thing about JoePa, of which there were many."
I don't think so. When honorable people fail to live up to the standards they have set for themselves and for others, they don't reveal themselves to be hypocrites. They reveal themselves to be human. And I don't believe they lose the ability to be called a good person. Nor does that invalidate the standards that they tried to live by, despite a massive failure.
Joe should lose his job. He should have this as part of his legacy. He will suffer in private and public, and that is as it should be. His non-action should be condemned.
I can see how many of you are willing to disagree. To say that this wipes out all the good he has done. To condemn him as a person. To say that the standards were a lie. I just hope you have more understanding friends and famiily around you when you fail.
EDIT: After carefully reading every reply, none of which agreed with me, they seemed to all add up to two points. 1- that not reporting this to the police is worse than any other moral failing, and 2- That we should judge Patero harshly for what he didn't do. I had already made the second point explicitly in my OP above. The point is I'm willing to say that reporting it to his superiors but not the police deserves universal condemnation--but that it doesn't erase all of the good he did for literally thousands. But I'm clearly in a group of one there. As to the first point-I agree. But I stand by my greater point.
It's amazing how fast life can change. What's happened in State College is an amazing reminder of how unstable even the most bedrock things in life really are.
That might sound ridiculous when we're talking about a mere football coach. But keep in mind that Bo coached for twenty years. Paterno's been a part of that program for almost fifty.
Watching all of this play out has been nothing short of a nightmare, even from someone like myself who is not a fan but has always respected and admired the football program if not directly supported it. These stories have not showed up as random links in college football tabs on my desktop, but rather on the front page of the paper that lies in my driveway every morning. What has seemed like an untouchable truth has crumbled around us in the blink of an eye.
Reading the SI articles today, it was amazing to see how they provided such a stark contrast of how Sandusky, Paterno, and ultimately Penn State football, was perceived for what seemed like eternity. For me, I grew up in the reality that grass was green, the sky is blue, and Joe Paterno is the respected football coach. I remember a wrestling coach who openly emulated him in every way. I remember entire towns cleaning up because Paterno may or may not be coming to visit a potential recruit. I was raised in a Penn State family. I have an uncle who is probably right now clearing signed footballs from his mantle. I have an aunt who used to babysit for the Paternos in the very house I watched on SportsCenter last night-- I've driven past it myself, and been amazed at how humble the little home is for a man of such legendary stature. And while I was never forced to be a PSU fan, I was always aware of how much the program was about values, and what those values meant to my dad and uncle and grandfather. Honesty. Integrity. Hard work. These things meant everything to my role models, and maybe that's why Penn State meant so much to them as well.
This morning I was in the car when Greenberg literally had the news about JoePa dropped in his lap and he read it aloud. We in Pennsylvania all knew this day would one day come, but like this?
Learning that the ethical standards that went hand in hand with Joe Paterno were not only inaccurate, but has also cost him his immortal job status? Well, it's like waking up one day and finding that the United States is secretly run by a Communist dictator. It just doesn't make sense, and certainly doesn't seem real.
Penn State football will not suspend its games for the season. That's unfair to Nebraska and certainly unfair to the current players. Penn State football will certainly not fold like the Post suggested in its editorial. It will move on, and it will one day be free of this grip of shame and unspeakable horror. Not even this will shut down the program.
But what it will cost Penn State is its tradition.
When I think of Penn State football, it's always had a timeless feel. Regardless of whatever composite materials or Revolution designs the helmet evolved into, it would still remain plain. Boring. Penn State.
What I never could have imagined is that in the decade to come, the school might knowingly sink that tradition, just to move away from all this. In 2020 you might very well see Penn State in some ridiculous ProCombat jersey with leaping mountain lions across the shoulders. You might see gray trim on the numbers. You might see the athletic logo, known affectionately in these parts as the 'Beaver head,' finally on both sides of the helmet. And that helmet might be gray, or blue, or both. And not because Paterno is no longer there to refuse the idea... but rather to distance the program from what is now and will forever be remembered as a marred past.
There was once talk in the early 2000's that not simply the stadium would be renamed in Paterno's honor, but rather the entire campus or town itself. Paterno Park. Paternoville. He was as timeless and as frozen in goodwill as Santa Claus. Until now.
Penn State tradition was forever altered this week. The men that will soon be put to task to pick up the pieces of this Hiroshima-esque landscape might very well choose to bury that tradition once and for all. And for many, dreams, memories and entire ways of life will die with it.
There's a friend of mine down the street, an alum, who along with his dad, my neighbor, cherish their season tickets like family heirlooms. That will not change. They will continue to go, continue to tailgate and even continue to fly the flag outside their homes. But this week, I have thought about him much, and specifically about what he will do on Saturday morning when he packs up the car and prepares to take the family up to State College. He's got a son, about the same age as mine, who is always wearing blue and white on a Saturday morning. And how on earth does he put his son in a Penn State jersey this week? And if he doesn't, how does he tell his son that he can't wear his Moye jersey? How do you tell him to stop loving JoePa, or explain why he won't be there next year?
Yes, I know, small fries compared to the lives of those poor kids whose trust was betrayed by that monster. But life as we all know it has changed this week in Pennsylvania, and the ripple effects of this mess will continue to affect normal everyday people in my life and beyond for years to come. It's just a really sad, improbable day... and we can only hope that lessons are learned and that lives can be changed for the better with the serving of justice.
I know I'm not the only PA native here on the blog, and I'm curious to hear Steve in PA's take, and others. But it's a strange, surreal blur of a bad dream in our community and thought it might be worth sharing and describing for the rest of you, if you're so inclined. This is my last mention of the subject.
Prayers for the victims, and Go Blue.
From the looks of this April 3, 2011 article, almost everyone knew that Jerry Sandusky was into some dark, disturbing, disgusting things. The writer does seem to question the program and the actions of Paterno though.
The only question I have is that why, if everyone knew about it, was nothing done sooner?! Although we have a milion other Sandusky threads, I thought this was appropriate to show that this was an ongoing issue that everyone dragged their feet and shrugged their shoulders about in Happy Valley.
Best-case scenario: Charges are never brought, and Sandusky walks away with his reputation permanently scarred. The rumors, the jokes, the sideways glances - they won't ever stop. Paterno and Penn State do the great escape.
Worst-case scenario: Sandusky is charged. Then it seems reasonable to wonder: Did Penn State not make an issue of Sandusky's alleged behavior in 1998 in exchange for him walking away from the program at an age premature for most coaches? Did Penn State's considerable influence help get Sandusky off the hook?