The story of Joe Paterno is very well reported and discussed. It seems to be from the script of a Shakespeare play about a monarch whose image rises and falls.
I thought about writing this piece Sunday afternoon, right after his passing. However, I knew that I needed some time to pass in order to pay my respects to this great coach of our time. Now that the dust is settling a bit more, I have chosen to bring this out for everyone to discuss.
Please remember that we are talking about someone who has a family grieving in their loss. But with all things said, do not hold back your true thoughts about the subject.
Let's learn from Joe Paterno's situation these past three months as we have learned from his 60-plus years of college football coaching. Who is to blame for the demise of such a legend?
It was the week right after the first Alabama vs LSU "Game of the Century" when the Sandusky news broke. Two weeks before, it seemed that media outlets were not talking about any other game except the one in Tuscaloosa on November 5th.
But the game recaps and reviews took a backseat to the spotlight that was on Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions. The situation snowballed right after the Attorney General held a press conference about the details of the accusations.
All of the sudden, Joe Paterno became the face of this fiasco. One could almost forget that Sandusky was the accuser with all the fire Paterno took from all angles. At one point, Paterno's press conference was cancelled since there was a fear that the 84-year-old would be overwhelmed with questions about the Sandusky investigation.
Hear this clip about Paterno—it seems surreal that weeks before these same reporters were praising his feat in having the most wins in college football history.
It seems that all of this could have been avoided had Tim Curley done his job as Athletic Director since the allegation got to his desk years earlier.
Graham Spanier, the University's President, was in power for 16 years. It is hard to believe that he did not know what was going on at the time.
In most organizations and corporations, the CEO and Presidents are held the most liable by the authorities and the public opinion.
Right now, it is Joe Paterno instead of the Administration who took the worst criticism. And it was also the administration from the Board of Trustees who fired Paterno without hearing his concerns and reservations about the matter.
There is no question that authorities knew about this case years ago. Why did it take so long for an arrest?
Here is the link to the transcript for the report on the investigations.
The glorification of sports figures is not just a problem in State College, PA. It is seen throughout the world, wherever fans are obsessed with their team's success. In Penn State, the fans seem to put the pressure on the school to keep Joe Paterno in his post.
It no longer became about the actual success of the team, but the longevity of the legendary status of Joe Paterno. This caused for the power to shift from the administration to Joe Paterno's hands. No one figure should have that much power in any institution.
Was Joe Paterno's call to continue coaching a good one? We all knew Joe Paterno's stance on his retirement. He would retire when he felt it was the best time.
Unfortunately, Paterno didn't know when it was the appropriate time to step down.
Joe Paterno outlived most of his close peers, and there was no one left to let him know that it was time.
This scandal would have been better handled had Paterno been out of his coaching job; the focus could have been put on the victims instead of the football team.
One could almost forget about the accused in this criminal case. With all opinions and judgements aside about this man, here is his statement about the passing of Joe Paterno:
This is a sad day! Our family, Dottie [Sandusky's wife] and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue [Paterno] and her family. Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family, and all the wonderful people who were a part of his life. He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached.
And the question remains...who is to blame?