Saturday, November 12, 2011

It Will Take Years Until Penn State Repairs Image


This wasn’t a friendly farewell, but an ugly divorce for the university’s most lovable icon, a town ambassador portrayed as the symbol of Penn State– and nonetheless – was fired for not doing enough to protect the school’s identity.

There are assumptions behind this, assumptions that commenced alleged crimes of sexual assaults involving underage victims, and sadly the non-supporters have pointed their fingers at Joe Paterno, the moral compass of college football – the father-figure of Penn State for 46 years. He was embarrassed in the end, left the game emotionally and became aloof to the game he coached for half a century amid a horrendous sex scandal that has tarnished his legacy.

It’s a tragedy, an unprecedented tragedy that stunned the nation, a horrifying scandal that will always overshadow the old man’s feats and longevity as the winningest coach in Division I history. It’s not about football; it’s about the victims, which is the explanation for Paterno’s firing.

The board of trustees dismissed Paterno shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday night for not reporting Jerry Sandusky, his former defensive coordinator and pedophile arrested on 40 counts of molesting eight boys.

His firing impetuously triggered a State College riot in the community, where raging protesters gathered in anguish on the streets serenading loudly, angry and saddened Paterno had been fired over the phone – not even given an ultimatum to resign or announce an early retirement.

In reference to Paterno’s cessation, which was grotesque and destructive toward a 46-year affair with a regal football program that crumbled under his decree of bad judgment by refusing to report a crime as the scandal was unreported, Penn State students mobbed the streets and tipped over a news van.

The other night, while the scurrilous, angry Penn State supporters by the thousands waved phones and roared for nearly three to four hours with bullhorns and a series of chants, many raised candles in a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of sexual abuse. It was about the victims, not football, to some. It was about solidarity for the victims, not rioting a community because the legend wasn’t given an opportunity to save his job.

Some were vandals, while others were peacemakers at a somber moment, a time to heal and mourn after the allegations were publicly revealed that stunned the people in the most unprecedented week in college sports, if not the most infamous episode to poison a university in need now of a recovery.

It’s now the time to clean house, purge all the traces of corruption, from a rogue crime that will take years to rid when Penn State is beyond repair after educators enabled a child molester to stain the imagery of an institution suddenly marked by the messes.

There were many, such as the other night cheering happily and were satisfied to see Paterno relieved of his duties, outraged by the incident of sexual activities that involved minors. For many years, it will take time, as many suspect Paterno had much to hide covering up the truth and protecting his longtime friend, to repair from a horrible scandal that ruined Penn State’s program.

Many of whom are mad of the recent allegations, grasp a bad vibe that he condoned the series of sexual assaults happening during his tenure. For what it was, at least for what it seemed, he had been accused as if he was the sexual predator more than Sandusky himself, only for representing everything Penn State symbolizes.

Though he’s still the most beloved senior citizen in a small community that sent much thanks to Paterno for all he has done in his reign as head coach, whether it was serving as a mentor or father figure for children or enriching one of the winningest programs in school history, he is also not taken to kindly by few.

He’s marked forever, not only for not reporting the alleged molestation but for possibly protecting the university’s brand name, or even protecting the university’s revenue and the plethora of scholarships or even his legacy as the teacher grooming young players, all while depicted as a moral compass.

It’s an unhappy ending to a tragic story in Happy Valley, also known as Unhappy Valley in just the past week when the board of trustees was forced to make an immediate culture transition, relinquishing on their longtime football coach and cutting ties with even Penn State president Graham Spanier.

This is much larger than a football program of excellence and an elderly man’s legacy, but it is apparent the Penn State kids don’t understand. The students are simply more concerned with football, than they are in sending their thoughts and prayers to those victims. When the Penn State students rioted at the campus on Horror Night, the irascible people acting like soulless, insensitive protesters in support of Paterno, we saw them dismissing an alleged scandal of madness and humiliation.

Rumor has it that Sandusky “pimped out” young boys from his Second Mile charity. What is unfortunate – and perhaps egregious in all of this – is that Sandusky cost his good friend, Paterno, his job now unemployed for Sandusky’s actions as Paterno ignored the allegations by not calling the police.

The blame falls in the lap of Sandusky in State College, an eerily region of poignant fans emotional in the aftermath of Paterno’s termination. As insanity had grown on that night, blinded by the scandal and overly in love with Paterno, not willing to end the marriage of downfalls, the crowd went insane and yelled, “F— Sandusky! “F— Sandusky!”

Shortly after, they blamed the media, “F— the media!”

Shortly after, they blamed the trustees.

They blamed anyone but Paterno, a beloved figure on Penn State campus. Thousands of kids poured onto the streets, crowding his house to send their thanks and reporters swarmed around his front porch to ask questions. The board of trustees failed to fire Mike McQueary, a Penn State assistant in the center of this scandal as well, but placed him on administrative leave. This was mishandled – and in many ways, it doesn’t make sense if Paterno was fired and McQueary wasn’t when he said he had seen a young boy being molested by Sandusky in the locker room’s shower in 2002.

His reaction was running from the problem instead of resolving the incident, waiting until the next day to call Paterno and meet him at his home. If McQueary refused to call the police and report a sexual assault, then why is he still employed?

Why isn’t he jobless? The favoritism really shows the true colors of Penn State, it really shows that they desire keeping McQueary even though he never called the police. He is, mind you, just as bad as Paterno or even athletic director Tim Curley.

Don’t you agree?

But he is worth credit for reporting an alleged crime to Paterno nine years ago. The saddest thing about it is, he wasn’t fired but salvaged his job. The fact is, Penn State is leery and too worried to fire him in the event he files a lawsuit. This alone, protects McQueary from losing his job, though he was afraid and stayed quiet too long regarding sexual activity at the university’s facilities.

People are horrified, on campus and off campus, over alleged crimes that tragically damaged Paterno’s untouched legacy. People are simultaneously cheering in glee as if he’s the hero, gathering outside of his house and raising honorable signs that read, “We Love You, Joe!!”

This, in hindsight, is all too bad for Penn State and absolutely devastating and, by now, JoePa wish he “had done more.” Surely, he does but it is much too late, now sitting on his couch at home jobless like many other unemployed Americans in our fragile economy. The position of overseeing the athletic department, assigned to Curley who has taken a leave of absence, should not be given to him. When he’s no longer on leave of absence, he should not return to his office.

The leverage was given to Paterno, demanding to keep his coaching gig for decades, until now. He refused to retire, until now. He wanted his way, until now. He had planned to retire at the end of the year, not now.

But he had no choice. It was time to leave, but it’s just too bad it had to end so sadly, so tragically and so ugly with a ruined legacy. As of recently, it was impossible to send Paterno home, away from football, something he loved truly but just allowed his job to slip away from him without taking full control of his program.

Even when the program was perpetuating along in inferiority before finally returning to splendor, he was the lone senior citizen standing on the sideline as a head coach in college football. It was all lost when the allegations came to light that a child molester was roaming Penn State.

This was one way to change the culture in State College, a way to finally get rid of Paterno, an elderly man who can now live the rest of his life, unfortunately with the memories of a sex scandal and his murky legacy.

If he could do it all over again, he would have done more. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact. As of now, Paterno is done with a crippled reputation, four games before the end of his 46th season at Penn State. This institution, a flagship school, is mired in disarray.

In this case, the university is under much scrutiny, marked for an infamous sex scandal that will always leave behind a stain as it will take years for Penn State to repair its image. This school no longer has power, the cleanest tradition and its meaning. As the school deteriorates slowly, none of the goodness exist – and is another episode of hypocrisy and conspiracy.

Winning won’t cure humanity, not even a sudden upgrade within the problematic institution. Even if Spanier and Curley are gone, the program still needs to relocate a spate of trust. Even if Gary Schultz and Paterno are gone, the school needs to find a spate of hope.

Get used to it. This will take years to repair.