Tuesday, November 8, 2011

For the sake of Penn State, JoePa should fall on the sword (posted 11.8.11)

For the sake of Dear Old State, JoePa should fall on the sword
Paterno will have ample opportunity to try to explain himself, but it should be as the ex-coach at Penn State

There still remains a possibility that Joe Paterno's words - whether in his next press conference, or to the soon-to-be appointed special committee, or later on when testifying in the 40-count sexual abuse case against Jerry Sandusky - will at least in part provide a reasonable explanation for his actions, or lack thereof, in the infamous 2002 allegation against Sandusky.

A possibility. This story is so overwhelming in shock value, abhorrence and scope that perhaps nothing would be surprising to learn about it. And there is a lot to learn, that is for sure. It feels like a puzzle on Wheel of Fortune: A few letters are filled in, but the entirety remains unknown.

But right now, the media universe is smothering Penn State, and it has Paterno squarely in its crosshairs. The Paterno name is fueling the media onslaught. What to do about Paterno also is heightening the tension about campus and amongst Penn Staters everywhere around the globe. The cancellation by Penn State of Paterno's scheduled press conference Tuesday only increased the fervor.

Paterno has become an obstacle to the recovery process for Penn State.

Incredibly, the person credited more than any other with the development and reputation of the Penn Staters may not only possibly bear some responsibility in the school's worst hour of shame, but he is standing in the way of the onset of the long road of recuperation.

Therefore, Paterno should resign. As soon as possible.

JoePa needs to fall on the sword.

Paterno may very much desire to explain himself, to try to defend his actions, to bring new information to light. He may intend to try to redeem himself in the eyes of many in his constituency, Penn Staters - those who have followed his lead and revered him for decades. He may actually be able to. Or not.

But in the past couple of days it has become evident he needs to clear out of the way. The Penn State Board of Trustees is desperately scrambling to assess the situation and react appropriately. The BOT must lead Penn State through the daunting, painful process of assessment and recovery. (It was announced late Tuesday that a special committee would be formed Friday to investigate the entire Sandusky situation.)

The nature of things now is such that Paterno's continuing presence as head coach is an obstacle to that process, a process that must move forward as swiftly as possible.

The institution comes first. It's about Penn State. It's about the school coping with this tragedy and the victims.

Taking measure of the first 84 years and 10 months of Paterno's life, he has seemingly always made the right decisions. In one horrible instance in 2002, Paterno apparently did not. That might have enabled Sandusky's heinous trail of sexual abuse for the next six years. That has helped lead us to the terrible place we are today.

Paterno can't undo what is done, but he can do the right thing right now by resigning.

It will be the second step of Penn State's housecleaning. Step one came Sunday when AD Tim Curley and VP of business and finance Gary Schultz, both charged with perjury, stepped down following the Board of Trustees meeting.

Next up are Paterno and president Graham Spanier. Spanier's silence the past few days would seem to indicate he is in the process of negotiating his departure. Silent Spanier certainly isn't in the process of leading the school.

Paterno will be asked to resign by the BOT as well, for all of the reasons mentioned earlier, it's just a matter of when. Hopefully he takes the decision away from the BOT and does it himself, very soon.

That means he will miss the Senior Day home finale Saturday against Nebraska. But even for that, his presence would be detrimental, a conflicting figure. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley should be named interim head coach the remainder of the year. A season of great promise will be thrust into disarray with three games to go. And JoePa's heretofore spectacular, noble career will end shockingly immersed in scandal.

The rest of the football coaching staff will be next on the chopping block, after the season. The BOT will want a clean slate moving forward, and anyone perceived as possibly connected to the scandal or Sandusky - the former defensive coordinator retired 12 years ago - in any way will be excised. The new head coach, who likely will be hired in December, will bring in a whole new slate of assistants.

Then there is Mike McQueary. McQueary reportedly was the graduate assistant who witnessed Sandusky's alleged sexual assault in 2002. He reported it to Paterno, who forward it to Curley. McQueary then met with Curley and Schultz, who oversees campus police, and conveyed what he witnessed, but apparently no investigation was launched, and it died right there. Just as the Centre County police mysteriously let a 1998 allegation against Sandusky die.

McQueary, now the PSU wide receivers coach, has been thrust into the center of this hurricane. Many have questioned what he did, or did not do, with regard to Sandusky. While Paterno has been the focus of the media, the backlash against McQueary has been more vitriolic. Some, including former Nittany Lions great Matt Millen, have questioned why McQueary apparently didn't physically intervene when he witnessed Sandusky's alleged assault.

McQueary reportedly was not at practice Tuesday. His immediate fate is unclear, though some fear for his safety.

ESPN is reporting that Paterno's son Scott, who is acting as JoePa's spokesperson, is trying to arrange a press conference for Wednesday.

Hopefully, Paterno will resign. It's the right thing to do.

1 comment:

  1. another great post. i have a question about the timing and reasons for sandusky retiring in 1999. i think there was an allegation of sexual misconduct against sandusky sometime in 1998. from what i've heard/read, shortly thereafter sandusky was informed he would not be the next head coach after joe pa and sandusky retired (in 1999). did joe pa (and others) decide sandusky would not be head coach because they knew of the misconduct allegations? did joe pa make it clear that sandusky must "retire" from the PSU football staff? It needs to be known, because if joe pa had knowledge of the 1998 issue and the 2002 issue, and still did so little, then he is an enabler.