so you don't think a head coach would have a close relationship with his DC of 30 years?
As to the "10 years of seeing him come and go" part, see my comment above re everyone else who saw him "come and go" and could have prevented it
You can't throw a rock today without hitting a piece on Joe Paterno, and I'll add my bit. I've read a half-dozen of them and feel myself drawn to the portions that focus on his ignoble demise at the hands of a long-overdue grand jury investigation into Jerry Sandusky. The ones that skip it entirely, as many PSU-based POVs do, or attempt to put it "in perspective" seem to be succumbing to the same disease that felled everyone when Nixon died and people scrambled for good things to say about him other than "he's dead."
Paterno is not Nixon, obviously. Nixon is the most obvious public funeral held in which ill things were not spoken of the dead due to social taboo, rather than reason. I dislike that natural impulse to whitewash. When Christopher Hitchens died I spent a lot of time reading his withering obituaries just to watch him stick the knife in and twist. If that makes me ruthless, okay.
I just can't get over how it all came crashing down. Not only did Paterno and the culture he created shelter Sandusky, Paterno did not seem to feel remorse for half a second. Maybe this is just an addled old man speaking but it is appalling that this came out of his mouth at the impromptu pep rally at his home in the immediate aftermath of the grand jury's testimony:
The kids that were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. Tough life, when people do certain things to you. Anyway, you’ve been great. Everything’s great, all right.
Virtually the entire media edited Paterno's statement into a less awful version because their sense of propriety could not grasp the words that had actually come out of his mouth. This was Joe Paterno. He couldn't have said that. He shouldn't have said anything. He should have been in his house crying to his wife, finally realizing the monstrous consequences of his inaction.
Instead he seemed to think of himself as a victim. A lot of people find ways to blame themselves for massive tragedies they are not responsible for. Paterno was oblivious to his role to the end. Maybe that's forgivable to some people who look at the donations and the football coaching and the Great Experiment. Not me. I have great respect for Chris Grovich of Black Shoe Diaries but I can't read this…
Behind Joe Paterno's Beaver Stadium statue are the words, "Educator, Coach, Humanitarian." They really could have been arranged in any order.
…without inserting "child rape enabler" in any order. That phrase overwhelms the rest. If he did lead a program that strove to prove it was capable of operating at a higher plane that just makes it worse. He was held up—he held himself up—as a man who could achieve success on and off the field in a way that others could not.
Maybe any one of us would have done the same thing if confronted by the terrible truth about a long-time friend. Maybe 90% of people would not have had the courage to blow up a reputation so carefully crafted over such a long period. Maybe Joe Paterno was just being human.
That's not enough when you have a statue. Paterno wasn't supposed to be human, he was supposed to be Joe Paterno. He wasn't and now he never was. He had over a decade to do something about Sandusky and did not. That is no mistake, or misjudgment, or error. It is immensely sad, but in the end Paterno failed his charge more spectacularly than a man who dared less would have. You can call him Icarus if you want; I'm not inclined to give him that benefit of the doubt. The costs were not worth the attempt.
The statue is Joe Paterno now. The man is dead. Hopefully the idea behind the statue can help people be better than the man turned out to be.
[Editor's note: Orson and I both go for the statue conceit. We've seen people crying or overturning news vans in its vicinity it every 30 seconds over the past few months, so maybe not a huge surprise.]
so you don't think a head coach would have a close relationship with his DC of 30 years?
As to the "10 years of seeing him come and go" part, see my comment above re everyone else who saw him "come and go" and could have prevented it
for 30 years and have nothing more than a professional relationship. People do this all the time with people they work with in many different environments. I'm saying its not like he had to turn in his best friend or the guy who came over with his wife to play cards with the Paternos every Sunday evening. It was a former employee that he claims he didn't even have a social relationship with.
And this thread isn't about those people, its about Joe Paterno, the most important, powerful visible figure that Penn State had at its disposal. But you can continue to ignore these simple facts and concentrate on what other people could have done rather than what the person who could have done the most didn't do.
My thoughts are summed up perfectly in this article:
He didn't need to be holier. No one who did more than what Paterno did would be a hero. He or she would just be a decent person.
I don't know I think those kids and their families would have called him a hero had he done more. And rightfully so in my opinion.
Paterno's legacy could still be meaningful. He did do a lot of good in this world, he also did a truly horrible thing. He could remain as a figure that has value, a good man who in one action of silence removed any chance he would ever be a great man and instead condemned himself to an ignoble legacy.
We could talk about his character flaws. How his desire to protect his kingdom, protect the system under which he provided college educations to many young men and molded them into better people lead him to allow childrens lives to be ruined. Discuss how blindness, how complancency, how who knows what exactly ruined his legacy. How others can avoid that fate. How others can avoid that desire to protect their kingdom and thus destroy it.
Instead people are demanding we whitewash that silence, that horrible mistake, and focus on all the good he did. With one sentence they admit he flawed, and then they spend the next 800 sentences talking about his amazing legacy and all the good works he did. That kind of handling of Paterno just disgusts me. The rape of children supersedes any donation to the library. Any number of people put in the NFL. Any amount of money raised for the special olympics. We are not living in the 1500s, you cannot simply buy absolution for your sins. Yet that is what a large part of society wants to do. Cite all his good and buy him absolution, and that is just disgusting.
I tend to agree with you, in that we can't excuse Paterno's callous inaction. But in regards to those who have excused him, and who have gone and deified him - I consider this a very human behavior, perhaps a failing that many of us have. It's the inability to fully accept the excruciating awfulness of people, and particularly the awfulness of parental figures. Paterno was a father to many. I find it apt that his last name was reflective of "paternal." This situation brings to mind all the real life fathers who have abused their kids, or who flew into alcoholic rages, only to have their kids forgive them over and over again, even if it meant lifelong psychological damage. Those who refuse to believe that Paterno didn't act as "a father should" in this situation do so because it is too painful to believe otherwise.
Joe Paterno doesn't even have the ability to draw on the "friend" excuse that Brian uses above.
I could see struggling to send a close, lifelong friend to jail, even though in this case the circumstances trump all. But the reality is, it would be difficult to do that to someone you thought you knew well. Someone whom you'd spent your whole life thinking one thing about and now all of the sudden they are a monster and you're supposed to forget all the good things from before.
But according to Paterno, he didn't even have a relationship with Sandusky that was anything beyond professional. They didn't spend time together, they didn't socialize, their only contact was through PSU football.
Paterno has no legitimate excuses for not being more involved. None.
In my huge collection of Michigan videos and DVD's, I have an episode of 'The Big Ten Ticket,' that I recorded previewing the 1998 Michigan/Penn State game. (Tom Brady & Company would go on to beat PSU 27-0)
In that episode, there was a section called "Chalk Talk," where our own Bo Schembechler sat down and interviewed JoePa, coach to coach, for about 5 minutes or so. Talk was about how he felt being a member of the Big Ten, did he ever think the conference would move to 12 teams, small chat like that. I contemplated uploading that little interview today because it features two of the most iconic college football coaches of all time. Somewhat of a JoePa tribute from a Wolverine fan. But everything Brian said, I agree with. It's hard to play a triubte for JoePa now. Make no mistake. I appreciate all the good he did for so many people. And I sympathize with the fact that he found out something so horrible about a person he probably considered a family member. I know that had to have felt awful beyond belief. But I can't understand and I never will understand how he could have not done more. To think that he probably crossed paths with Sandusky a couple dozen times a week for almost a decade and did NOTHING more about it....I can't make sense of that.
I also didn't believe JoePa for a second when he said he never heard anything about the 1998 shower incident. Doing the math, this interview Bo did with JoePa took place just a couple months after that all went down. And I think about that and come to the conclusion that keeping silent all those years, he doesn't even deserve to share the stage with Bo. So I threw the tape back in the pile.
To be a saint you have to die, but dying doesn't make you a saint. Paterno could accomplish pretty much anything with his status at Penn State and often did. However, when the chips were down and innocent lives were at stake he hid behind "reporting it to his superiors." He did not have any real superiors. If he wanted to see things through he could have chased this thing to the ground. He did not because it was inconvienient, unseemly and embarrassing to his program. He is as responsible for that as much as for anything good he ever did with his status.
Schools shouldn't let coaches continue past age 70, for their own sake as well as the institution. Paterno was an addled old man for the last 10 or 15 years, but the school couldn't make him go away because he was too ingrained in the culture. It wouldn't hurt the career of a long-established coach, either. Of the coaches with over 200 career Division I wins, Bo retired at 60, Bear Bryant retired (and then died) at 69, Pop Warner retired at 67, LaVell Edwards at 70, Tom Osborne at 60, Lou Holtz at 67, Woody Hayes at 65 (well, he didn't retire...), Hayden Fry at 69, Don Nehlen at 64, and Vince Dooley at 56.
The four coaches (Paterno, Eddie Robinson, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and Bobby Bowden) who coached past age 70 also failed to maintain the success of their younger days. I'll format it Coach, pre-70 winning percentage/ post 70 winning percentage/ total winning percentage.
Joe Paterno, .789/ .659/ .746
Eddie Robinson, .719/ .556/ .707
Amos Alonzo Stagg, .608/ .417 / .573*
Bobby Bowden, .775/ .659/ .746**
*The University of Chicago forced Stagg to retire at age 70, after which he coached at the University of the Pacific.
**I included 12 vacated wins during 2006 and 2007, otherwise this would be a lower percentage. The numbers here may be slightly off due to my sources regarding the 12 vacated wins, but the difference should be insignificant.
With these numbers and the Paterno/Sandusky scandal and the FSU cheating scandal in mind, should colleges consider forcibly retiring coaches at age 70?
He ran Penn State and at minimum could have fired him. I would not have a friend that molested kids. You need your head examined saying some would look the other way. He was addicted to his own ego and fucked kids over. Any other way of looking around it is sick. Yes I am judging and may go to hell for that, oh well. I am glad he didn't get to your kids or yourself.
If everyone did that absolutely nothing would ever get done...ever.
Maybe this is harsh, but clearly its a Freudian slip that could have been done by most distant observers of the whole affair. I think the fact that it went to press is damning by itself. From last week's Raleigh News and Observer:
The last few days have sickened me, everyone trying to cast him in a good light because he is dead. He chose his path and the path he chose shows no reason to do so. God bless the victims who still must live and cope with what happened to them under his watch.
I think Brian's comments and the majority of those on this board are patently unfair to Joe Paterno. None of you know exactly what Paterno knew or didn't know at any point in the last 10 years. Neither do you know exactly what he did during that same time period. You are judging him without knowing all of the facts, period. I doubt anyone would would argue with the assertion that Joe Paterno did more for the football players and Penn State University than Bo Schembechler did for the University of Michigan and its players. Personally, I will wait for more of the facts to come out before I can render such a harsh judgment as most of you.
The man is dead. What new facts are you looking for? This is when I wish mgoblog had a "clueless" rating you could give posts. A meeting with Schultz and Spanier days after the event is a discussion of how to squash the matter, not a meeting to protect children. A meeting to protect the child never needs to take place, only a phone call to the police is required, and it certainly doesn't require a meeting when the men with all the power happen to get around to it. They still don't know that boy's name.
There are PLENTY of facts out there that many like you choose to ignore. Try looking some of them up, read all of the grand jury reports. Or just keep your head in your ass.
You obviously didn't read his last interview with the Washington Post. If you did, you'd know that he lays out what he knew over the last 10 years and tells the reporter exactly what he did. And what he did was pass the buck in the face of horrible tragedy.
No one is arguing that he did much for football and PSU, probably more than Bo did for Michigan. The fact that you bring it up just makes me feel bad for you.
I would be willing to bet that any of Bo's former players would be happy to argue that assertion.
that my respect for Paterno, PSU, and their fanbase has hit rock bottom since this scandal broke. To me, this whole tragic episode is a microcosm of one of the major problems in college athletics today: the win-at-all-costs mentality subverting the normal thought process and peoples' perceptions of right and wrong was at play here, like in any other major scandal of recent times. The worship of Paterno created an insular culture that enabled this tragedy to occur. The fans of PSU rioted after Paterno was fired, and continue to defend him on their boards.
dying of cancer and suffering from at the least mild dementia, and probably much more, based on some out of context quote.
A lot of people in this country are in similar condition, yet most aren't exposed to the outside world, let alone the national media.
If JoePa was suffering from mild dementia and all that, why did he want to keep on coaching? And why did the fanbase want him to keep at it? That's the difference between him and some other old man. He insisted on remaining the face of the PSU program. If you're going to be that, you're accountable for what you say. (And the context of the quotaiton doesn't make it any better.)
Paterno knew about Sandusky 10 years ago, when Paterno was 74, mentally competent, and in good physical health.
Paterno did nothing. Paterno kept his silence. And Paterno got his 409th win.
He had a knack for PR and worked in an isolated community that viewed him as a demigod.
He shouldn't be lionized as a role model for college football or a great man.
Now that we all feel so sanctimonious for our collective, in most cases untested, moral superiority over JoePa, maybe we can get on with the show and crucify his wife as well, she deserves self serving scorn from us as well.
"Why if I had been JoePa, I would have taken Sandusky and..." Just shut up, please. Those of you daily showing your outrage, are, I am convinced, the least likely to do anything other than pat yourself on the back.
Go out and start a foundation for abused kids. Child abuse isn't over by a long shot. You still have time to actually do something other than blather
I have broken up a sexual assault in the act that led to an arrest of a predator. I have also given witness statement to the police when my cocounselor of 10 years at a camp hit a kid. I have more than a vague idea of how I would act if I were Joe or McQueary. I was a lot younger than both of them in these cases but I knew what to do.
I don't know what I'd do in Paterno's situation. What I do know is this: if I did nothing, I'd sure as hell want people to crucify me for it.
Maybe you can argue that "you don't know what you would have done in the same situation" business till the kingdom come.
But here is what I do know.
Even given all the accomplishments and accolades that Joe Paterno has achieved over the years, I would choose my own relatively meager accomplishments in my own life over his. Why? Because no kids were raped under my watch.
I will take that accomplishment over his any day.
I've done a good amount of work on behalf of the victims of child sexual abuse. Thanks for inquiring.
What he did (did not do) WAS NOT A MISTAKE!! Paterno did not follow up on a crime against a child and children. HIs moral obligation to protect those that cannot protect themselves go so far beyond his legal obligation. The "legal obligation" is total bullshit! That's like Clinton saying "I didn't have sex with that woman." Yeah but a BJ is still cheating on your wife.
Why try to split hairs to try and make him look good? Paterno did NOTHING, but tell his boss. Big friggin whopp! That's like telling a bully he shouldn't pick on weaker kids, that won't stop anything. Paterno enabled Sandusky by letting that sicko to continue to step on campus. He should have fired him on the spot and then turned him into the State Police. I don't care if it was his best friend. You don't let that crap go on, let alone for years afterward.
The most frustrating part of this whole story, which I first started reading about in the backseat of a car on the way back to Ann Arbor from Iowa City this past fall, has been how the focus has been on Penn State, Sandusky, and Paterno, when it should have been about these poor kids who were victimized and have suffered as a result of the actions, inactions, and utter failures of all three entities listed above.
I work in child welfare, so perhaps my perspective is naturally drawn to the kids in an instance such as this one, but how have the kids not been the story? Why wasn't it immediately expected that Joe would devote the rest of his life to raising money and awareness for victims of child abuse to atone for the suffering that occured under his watch for more than a decade at least? When I think of Joe now, I think of the kids who could have been saved, kids who Joe failed. Are we really going to talk about a FOOTBALL TEAM, WINS, COACHING LEGACY? Tell me I'm not the only one appalled by this.
And the minimum legal standard is completely irrelevant. Does anyone actually think that the minimum legal standard is meaningful, regardless of Joe's status or influence?
The scene that breaks my heart the most, for those of you who read the indictment, was when McQueary talked about coming into the locker room on that Friday night, heard those disturbing sounds, walked into the showers, and saw this vicious act taking place. McQueary claims that Sandusky AND this now nameless young boy both turned and looked at McQueary. I try to imagine what was going through this tortured boy's mind when he saw McQueary. That poor boy probably felt a wave or relief, a glimmer of hope that someone was going to save him from this monster. And it brings tears to my eyes to think about the horror he must have felt when McQueary turned and left without doing a thing.
I think about that scene and how there was an opportunity to save that defenseless child who was being preyed upon by a monster. And I can't help but despise McQueary for his failure at that time.
Joe had the resources and abilities to save every victim from that day forward. For whatever selfish reasons, he chose not to. It makes me sick.
I don't care how many years he spent living the life of a celebrity, how many games he won, how many players he coached. If one child had been raped as a result of his failure to act, that would have outweighed all else. He let it go on for over a decade.
Thank you, Brian, for using the platform you've built to try to remind us all who we should really be thinking about. I'll use this time to reflect on those tortured by Sandusky and to hope that none of them have taken their own lives as a result of the crimes that occurred in the PSU football facilities.
First of all, RIP Paterno and I pray for all the victims in this. Anyway, am I the only one who is getting sick of PSU fans blaming the whole Paterno situation on ESPN? Some of them seriously think he should still have a job there (If he was alive), but they think ESPN brought him down. That's crazy.
Well said, Brian.
I know many meek men from "Joe's Time" who would have known what it was, and would have had the courage to step between a monster and his prey. Joe, of all the people in Happy Valley, had the ability to deal with this and come out of it the hero. He declined. Its his legacy.
That's just fucking ridiculous. The concept of pedophilia has been around at least since Freud, but for centuries before that people understood that sexually assaulting children was both possible and wrong. The age at which point a person is considered a child has changed over the past two hundred years or so, but unless you want to suggest that Joe was still hanging on to the sixteenth-century English law that made the age of consent 10 years old, you're just grasping at straws to make yourself feel better.
The daddy complex that many seem to have for JoePa (that's double Freud in one post, y'all!) is really starting to freak me out.
First, "man rape," as Paterno called it, is in the Bible! It wasn't invented in 1970.
Second, the following anecdote from Evan Thomas's biography of Robert Kennedy has stuck with me through all of this: Kennedy did a ride-along with some Boston cops at some point in the 1950s. The cops and Kennedy entered an apartment building during that day and somehow walked in on a guy molesting a kid. The cops promptly threw the man out of the window of the apartment (killing him, IIRC)...I'm not arguing for the summary execution of pedophiles, but I do think that this story shows that at least some people of Paterno's generation (or older) had a very different reaction to child molestation than he did.
I both agree and disagree with Brian. I agree that Paterno could have done more. Here's where I disagree: I don't think he should be vilified because he didn't.
Lots of people in America still believe in "innocent until proven guilty." Early on, Paterno said to let the legal system run its course. That gives you an idea of his thinking. This was stuff for the legal system. not for a football coach.
Maybe he viewed the school's non-response as signifying that they found that the allegations were weak. And maybe he's an old guy who figured he'd done what he should do, and it was over, and didn't - perhaps shouldn't - involve him.
The media and public, of course, don't share his view of innocent until proven guilty; of course, they never do when a crime is disgusting or heinous, and especially when kids are involved as victims. They always, always rush to judgment.
No matter what side of the argument one comes down on, a man who, if called as a witness, would have been incompetent to even testify on the res gestae of the crime, because he did not personally observe a single thing relative to the main allegation, was vilified as though he had.
There is a difference between Paterno and Nixon. Nixon was himself the wrongdoer, and the co-planner of crimes, not merely the passive after-the-fact guy in charge. Nixon was himself a fairly evil-minded SOB who never did anything for anyone else, and only ever cared about himself. Nixon had an enemies list, Joe Paterno never did.
care. After that, he should have shown Sandusky the door. He represents PSU, the alums, the State of PA, and even the conference and college football itself.
Brady Hoke just told a young player that he could not be associated with Michigan Football for a relatively trivial transgression. I would hope he did it for the good of the program, and of the university, because it was his duty.
How can I expect less of a man who many would consider to be an icon?
Ignorance in its finest form. Educate yourself on Penn State law enforcement before you talk about "Paterno and the culture he created." Just a wild guess here, but I'm guessing you've never set foot in State College, yet you are fully enlightened on the environment at Penn State. He believed others were better equipped to handle this situation than himself. He was wrong, and you choose to crucify him because of it. Shame on you.
This display of stupidity means this board no longer serves any purpose for me. Fortunately, my experiences have shown that the vast majority of the people of Ann Arbor and UM have far more dignity, class and intelligence than you. I hope God is kinder in his judgement of you than you are of a man who was far greater, kinder, and better in every way than you can ever hope to be.
We have enough delusional people on this board already.
detatch your lips from the dead man's ballsack before you do us the honor, pal.
buh-bye we will miss you!
The question that begs to be asked is when and if the Big Ten will kick Penn State out of the conference?
I agree 100% with Brian's comments. I've been appalled to read all the glowing sentiments about Paterno, his coaching, his philanthropy, etc. The PSU apologists just can't seem to grasp that an epic tragedy has occurred - dozens of young kids' lives ruined, and the personality cult in Happy Valley allowed it to continue. Paterno's family can mourn his loss, but the real focus should be on helping the molestation victims.
My his soul rest in peace, but give me a fucking break. He should have retired 15 years ago and would then have been remembered as one of the greatest college coaches ever. He now seems like a megalomaniac that could not let go........even when very nasty shit was going on under his watch. And give me a fucking break.......how could he not know WTF was going on with Sandusky buggering young boys. The locker room knows all, and yet the Generalisimo did not have a fucking clue?
Let's look at this in the proper perspective, just like Dickhead Nixon. Whatever good was done in the past is tattered by the present shitstorm that he played some sort of role in perpetuating.
to think through the implications of the thing--to understand them--and he didn't get it right. Meantime, a lot of lives were destroyed. He protected his program. Not only that, but he repeatedly placed his program above the law and above the reach of simple university regs. I don't give a crap about venerating him--the masses need heroes, and find it hard to hear theirs have feet of clay.
Not my hero, and anyone that stil thinks him a hero is misguided. Don't feel the rancor some do, but he f'd up, and not in a minor way. The quote, the pep rally--these made clear what a little man, intellectually, morally, he was. And many, many other people knew and did nothing. They all suck.
May JoePa's soul rest in peace, but the reality is that this megalomaniac should have retired 15 years ago when the glow was on every great thing that he accomplished. However, he had to chase the goal of being the winningest NCAA coach ever when a horrific situation was taking place under his watch. And give me a fucking break; does anyone really believe that the coaches did not know what was going on in the locker room? There is no way that Sandusky's buggering young boys was not common knowledge in the local community, particularly after the lockerroom incident witnessed by the red head wimp.
How about a prayer vigil for the young boys who were violated and whose lives have been ruined. JoePa stuck around too long because his ego demanded it.
An 85-year old guy that has cancer probably doesn't stand much of a chance to fight for a lengthy life. The concept of his dying of a broken heart makes me puke. Let's get real and recognize him for what he was, and that is not sainthood.
But at the same time, I could never stand behind such a stance because it's so impersonal. I certainly never knew the guy myself, but I say impersonal because he's so revered to so many people I love and respect. To dishonor him, at least now, this week, just doesn't leave a very nice taste in my mouth.
Yeah, I wrote the strip today and published it, not to dismiss Sandusky, but to just allow those who are grieving this loss, either as personal friends and family or as part of the Nittany Lion fan base, to just grieve. Without asterisks or caveats or told-you-so's. He's gone, and they're hurting.
The Sandusky case will unfold in the future, and undoubtedly will get far uglier. This week I'm all for simply allowing people to mourn.