Joe Paterno's Forced "Retirement" a Dismal End to a Distinguished Career

Mark HancockContributor IIINovember 9, 2011

Legendary Penn State Head Football Coach Hangs His Head in Shame Over Child Rape Scandal That Has Brought His Career To An Abrupt End
Legendary Penn State Head Football Coach Hangs His Head in Shame Over Child Rape Scandal That Has Brought His Career To An Abrupt EndRob Carr/Getty Images

The end came swiftly for Joe Paterno. After over six decades in a place called Happy Valley, deep in the heart of central Pennsylvania, it is over for the legendary coach, who has more wins than any other in big-time college football.

Those that played for him are aghast that he is being forced out at the age of 84. His influence was all-powerful, and maybe that's why the end of his career is so sad.

Tim Curley, the Penn State Athletic Director now indicted for perjury for lying to the grand jury about his failure to follow up on child rape allegations by Paterno's chief assistant coach, was a player for Paterno and a graduate assistant coach under Paterno at PSU. It isn't crazy to assume Paterno hand-picked Curley to be the de jure AD, the AD in name only at the school.

Ironically, another of Paterno's graduate assistant coaches reported seeing the former defensive coordinator of Paterno's team sodomizing a young boy in the locker room showers on campus. Why Paterno never fired and banned the offender from campus and had him arrested is something that may be covered up forever.

As my good friend and fellow Bleacher Report contributor from Chattanooga, Jerre Haskew, put it, the de facto AD, the real AD, and the real President of PSU, in terms of power on the campus and in the town, were all Joe Paterno: He held all of the positions of absolute power.

By not reporting obvious criminal activity, by ignoring it with a conspiracy of silence, Paterno engaged in what is known in the psychology textbooks and in the psychology classrooms at the University as "passive resistance."

Even though Paterno isn't a target of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's ongoing investigation, one that keeps revealing more and more victims daily, maybe he should be. Maybe Paterno should face criminal charges of obstructing justice by not seeing that Sandusky was placed behind bars over a decade ago.

Joe Paterno, at the very least, is guilty of utter moral failure. Mike McQueary, who originally reported the child rape to Paterno, is now the Nittany Lions' wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator. Those that were involved in the coverup should all have to register as sex offenders.

The aura of personal responsibility that Paterno supposedly espoused has been shattered. Stepping down now, not later, is the right thing to do to help restore his reputation. Remember that he looked the other way when he was in his prime and a despicable act was brought to his attention.

Paterno won many championships and touched many lives. He also looked the other way and failed to fulfill his moral obligation to helpless children of elementary-school age that were repeatedly sexually abused on his own campus in his own athletic facilities—and one such action was reported to him by one of his own coaches.

He utterly failed in his obligation to report this criminal abuse to the police. His protestations that he did all that was legally required is a pure cop out.

Make no mistake: The Board of Trustees finally took charge of the school. Paterno is being forced out, albeit gracefully, but his reputation will be forever tainted by this sordid mess.