Penn State Scandal: Is Joe Paterno Complicit, a Scapegoat or Both?

Jayson LoveCorrespondent INovember 13, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12: A Penn State Nittany Lions fan wears a mask of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno during play against Nebraska Cornhuskers at Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With all that has gone on at Penn State the past few days, it is difficult to determine what role everyone played in covering up what was a horrible situation—particularly, Joe Paterno's.

Paterno once remarked that he didn't want to leave the college football landscape to "the Barry Switzer's" of the world—implying that his program was clean and that coaches like Switzer engaged in shady practices in luring college football players to their programs.

Now, it seems that Paterno's program, while seemingly clean in terms of recruiting, had much bigger issues.

Switzer remarked this week, when asked about the PSU situation, “Everyone on that staff had to have known.”—everyone, including the head coach, Joe Paterno.

If you peel the layers, a few clues suggest that Paterno could have been involved in covering up the situation involving Jerry Sandusky. 

First, there was the "retirement" at age 55 of Jerry Sandusky in 1999.

At the time, it seemed like Paterno was getting rid of a man who was eying his job, but now, it seems like this was the first step in a massive cover-up.

Penn State's program was rolling in the 90s, and the top defensive coach leaves? Very odd timing to say the least.

Second, the action, or more accurately, the inaction of Penn State this week provides a glimpse into the situation.

It took a late night meeting of the Board of Trustees to fire the head coach.

It was obvious the university didn't want to fire Paterno and had to be persuaded before acting.

The best guess, and that is all anyone can do at this point, is that Paterno was involved in covering this up. Why wait, and then fire him?

The third clue is Paterno's actions after the firing.  People who "aren't the target of investigation," as Paterno was described early last week, don't hire high powered defense attorneys as Paterno has.

Finally, Joe Paterno is Penn State.  He can't go hide behind the "I told my superior" line when he was told about these horrible acts.

That coach was on his staff, if he wanted him gone and off campus, he could have gotten Sandusky out and off campus.

Stay tuned, this could be an even worse involvement for Paterno than previously thought in terms of covering up a heinous act by a coach on his staff.