What Joe Paterno Must Do

Jack McDonaldContributor IINovember 10, 2011

Despite his firing, Paterno can still be a source of healing.
Despite his firing, Paterno can still be a source of healing.

I'm actually a little scared for Penn State right now.

College students are not known for their emotional restraint, nor for their temperance in matters of alcohol consumption. College football fans are well-documented for being EXTREMELY territorial about their teams and programs. And pretty much everybody puffs their chests out when they feel someone's bullying a sweet old man.

All of these are converging right now.

In his statement today, prior to his firing by the Penn State Board of Trustees, Joe Paterno said he wishes he'd done more. Well, there's still more he can do. ESPN is reporting that thousands of students are gathering on campus and that there's talk of rioting. These kids probably have no faith in anything the administration might say to them, and Lord knows they're not going to respond well to the police.

If Paterno wants to do something productive, he should issue the following statement immediately:

"Today I learned that I have been dismissed as the head coach of the Penn State football team. This is a sad day for me, but let us all keep the victims in the forefront of our minds. I know and appreciate that you care so deeply for me and the program, but you must—you MUST—remember that there are consequences for actions, both taken and not taken.

"I was fired today because of actions I did not take. You have the chance tonight to choose your actions, and I am proof that choices have consequences. Whether you agree with Penn State's decision today, your reaction to it will affect your opportunities tomorrow. If you feel you need to display feelings of anger, please do it in a peaceful way. Please do not engage in rioting, or any other form of violence.

"This situation was created by alleged violence against children. Further violence will do nothing to help them, and will hurt both Penn State, and me personally. I thank you for your support, and ask that you show me one last time the strength of the Penn State community by simply accepting this, and working as best you can to restore the good name of this fine university. Thank you."