Penn State Scandal: Discussing Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary and the Scandal

Sean O'ConnorContributor INovember 11, 2011

It has been seven days since we first saw the news on ESPN College Gameday that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on charges of sexual assault on a child. In the past seven days the entire face of college football has been turned upside down.

For many of us, the first thing we did was read the grand jury indictment. In order for one to have an honest opinion and to understand the severity of the entire situation, it needs to be read. I forced myself to get through that 23-page nightmare, 23 pages of reading the most horrific example of one man allegedly using his own charity (one that was meant to help children, not hurt them further) to find and hand-pick young boys that were to his liking.

It is a shame and only a true deviant could close his eyes at night and sleep peacefully knowing what he had done to these young boys. Let us not forget, these boys (now men) have had to live, and will have to live, with the abuse that they took at the hands of this, a man that they believed was to be their mentor and was there to look out for them, for the rest of their lives. It is a disgusting story.

In 2002, as we have learned, a graduate assistant on the Penn State football team, Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky in the act. Until recently, it was unknown that McQueary was 28 years old at the time—28 years old!

I am 27, I am a father to a 17-month-old son, and I have another son on the way in January. The father in me has lost it; I cannot believe what McQueary did. It is unfathomable for me to think that according to the grand jury report, a 28-year-old man saw a near 60-year-old man sodomizing what he believed to be a 10-year-old boy in the shower and ran away. He left and asked his father what he should do.

We all like to say what we would have done in that situation. In what I would consider a moment of fairness, I have no idea how I would have reacted. I do know this much though: There is no way that Jerry Sandusky would have left that locker room without being put into handcuffs. I would have called the police (this was around the time that everyone started getting cell phones), I would have waited for them and made certain that Sandusky didn't leave. McQueary isn't a small guy; he is a big man, and he could have made certain that Sandusky didn't leave that locker room.

Instead, McQueary called his father and went and reported the acts to Joe Paterno, the head coach of the Penn State football team. Joe Paterno was, and still is, the most famous person in the entire history of Penn State. He was more well known than the president of the university, the athletic director—hell, he is more well known than the story of how the school was founded. This man personified college football in the United States.

For my entire life, and my father's entire life, Paterno has been at Penn State, either as an assistant or the head coach. I honestly thought that he would have a heart attack on the sideline and that is how his career would end; he would have done what he loved the most all the way to the end.

Sadly, that isn't the case. Paterno had a job to do, whether he realizes it or not. He did report it to the AD and the senior VP of the school, however, he failed to pursue the issue. In a situation of this magnitude, he needed to also contact the authorities, and not the Penn State Campus Police—he needed to contact the county- or state-level authorities.

He didn't.

The AD and VP discussed the issue with McQueary; he told them his story. At that point, it was felt that Sandusky should not be allowed to continue to bring children on campus. I wish I could ask them how they came to that decision without thinking about contacting the police.

"Hey Jerry, here's the deal: You can keep your office here and have access to all of the athletic facilities, but, we don't want you to bring kids here anymore." How is it that children were molested and this is all the university felt was necessary to do?

Since this story has come to light, in a mere seven days, Sandusky has been arrested and posted bail. His initial hearing was rescheduled for December 7. Tim Curley, the AD, and Gary Schultz, the VP, both stepped down and were also arraigned for perjury. Paterno's seven-decade career as a football coach at Penn State ended.

On Wednesday, Paterno stated that he would retire at the end of the season and that the board of directors didn't need to worry about his position any further. This is the most brazen thing I have ever heard in my life. If the board of directors had let this pass, they would have had an immense amount of explaining to do. Not to mention the amount of protestors that would be picketing outside of Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

Instead, the board fired Paterno Wednesday night and accepted the resignation of the president of the school, Graham Spanier, the only choice that they had. Paterno could have stepped down and he chose not to, so the university decided it was time to let him go. McQueary will not be allowed on the field for this game either; the board decided that with a number of threats in relation to McQueary, it is an unnecessary risk to have him there. Today, McQueary was placed on administrative leave, and The Patriot-News now reports that he has told his former players he will no longer coach them.

If I was a member of the board I would relieve him of his duties as well. Also, at the end of the season, I would let every football coach go and start over fresh—maybe Urban Meyer would take the job.

It is truly amazing the amount of fallout that has already occurred, with the number of people being arrested, the numerous men being let go and the way that the winningest coach in college football history had his career end. If only Paterno or McQueary would have reported it to the authorities immediately, none of this happens. Sandusky is arrested and goes to prison, Paterno continues coaching until that subsequent heart attack in the booth and the administrators at Penn State are still there.

It is a shame and something that we are certainly not going to forget.