Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel never thought offering kind words would cause such a problem.
Little-known Democratic lieutenant governor candidate in the state of Missouri, Sara Lampe, is throwing her opinion about Gary Pinkel's comments at SEC Media Days into the public forum.
The current Springfield, Mo. lawmaker—who runs on a heavy platform of education and child safety—tried to link Pinkel's comments as being insensitive toward children of sexual abuse.
"Coach Paterno protected and covered up for a serial child rapist and in doing so enabled him to keep raping children for another decade. A great man never would have done such a foul thing," Lampe told the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Gary Pinkel made comments at the SEC Media Days in which he neither defended sex crimes nor a cover-up, but instead offered genuine words of a former colleague.
“Joe Paterno's a friend that I got to know professionally, and you can't take away the greatness of this man,” Pinkel told reporters during the event. “He was a great man. However you analyze this, you can't erase all that this guy's done. You can't do that. Nobody can do that.”
Although Pinkel at no point defended the allegations or cover-up, it hasn't kept Lampe from hammering away at the idea that Pinkel is a lot like his colleagues at Penn State.
“Coach Pinkel’s defense of the indefensible indicates that he holds the same attitude that allowed the reprehensible situation at Penn State to occur; the attitude that building a successful football program is more important than everything else, including protecting innocent children from rapists,” Lampe said.
The irony is that Lampe herself goes on to give Paterno nearly the same praise, saying, "Paterno may have been a great coach..." but that he failed when it mattered.
Comments left on Lampe's Facebook page—which has seen a slight decline in membership since her decision to make this a matter of national debate—mostly condemned her for her comments.
Efforts to contact Lampe's campaign for comments were not immediately returned.