Paterno: “The very model of the moral ideal of Western humanism”

I guess you could say the rehabilitation of Joe Paterno has begun:

And that is only the beginning of the testimonies for Joe that will continue to swell all around the country.

When the hundreds of thousands of Penn State alumni hear the name JoePa, they think of moral leadership, of the kind of person they aspire to be. Of his warmth, his fatherliness, his steadiness, and his granite character. Joe Paterno was for hundreds of thousands of alumni the very model of the moral ideal of Western humanism. [Emphasis added]

I’m not exactly sure what that last sentence means, but I’m guessing Michael Novak thinks he’s a good dude. There’s more:

Then, quite suddenly in November 2011, with a huge national scandal erupting, the board suddenly acted as if the burden were on them. They did not weigh their own responsibility, their own inaction, their own failure to get to the bottom of the scandal of five months earlier. In a fit of what to many alumni seems to have been fear for themselves, the board’s members ducked their own responsibility, and in the most ignoble and impersonal way, made JoePa, the moral giant of Penn State, a moral outcast. [Emphasis added]

And more:

What rot — without a hearing, without talking to him man to man, without mentioning the honor and glory and unparalleled service JoePa had given to Penn State, bringing it to such great national eminence, including moral eminence. They dumped, as if in disgrace, an 85-year-old moral giant. JoePa raised the moral tone not only of Penn State, but of the whole, huge American college-football world. [Emphasis added]

There’s even more, but I think you get the point. Novak thinks Paterno is a moral giant. Well, maybe just one more:

There are not many coaches in America who read Virgil in Latin (and used to teach it), and who understand more deeply the ethical traditions of the West, both secular and religious, and who have proven so adept at teaching these codes to raw young football players, changing them for life and winning their undying loyalty. Ask Franco Harris. Ask hundreds of others.

Penn State faithful are no doubt in a state of shock. The Jerry Sandusky scandal has rocked the university to its core, and, on top of that, their iconic coach is not only sidelined, but now he’s dead. So, it’s not unexpected for their emotions to be high and their responses over the top. I think Novak’s qualifies as over the top.

It’s one thing to be a legendary coach who has been at a school for years, won more games than anyone else and has run a clean program. It’s quite another to be labeled the “model of the moral ideal of Western humanism.” Joe Paterno was a good coach, but not that good.

Time will eventually tell how the Sandusky scandal will effect Paterno’s legacy. Sandusky will be tried and I’m sure Penn State will be investigated in a variety of ways. Maybe after these things conclude Paterno’s legacy can be fairly judged.


Reconciling Joe Paterno

I’ve been too busy with work and life to add anything meaningful to the Joe Paterno story.

I’m sure the Penn State faithful are mourning JoePa much the same way Alabama fans mourned – and in some ways still mourn, the passing of Paul Bryant.  But while Bryant’s death left Bama fans to mourn with one eye on the past and one eye on who would be the next big winner, Paterno left behind a much messier situation than who would be his successor.

Penn State fans were left to mourn a leader who’s actions apparently fell short – at least at times – versus the mantra he espoused.  They have a lot of things to reconcile and talks about this:

Joe Paterno is dead, and I’m still unable to reconcile anything.

How could a man accused of instilling no influence to prevent the worst kind of harm be called the most important influence in the lives of players who didn’t even like the guy?

How could a man who cared so very much about Adam Taliaferro and his tragic tale not be seen showing the same public support for child abuse victims in 2002, or at the very least after the Grand Jury report in 2008?

How could a man who suspended former running back Austin Scott the week before his (subsequently dropped) sexual assault charges not banish Sandusky from football buildings after official accusations were made?

How could a man unwilling or unable to ask Mike McQueary for more details also be investigative enough to make a pattern out of unannounced trips to his players’ classes to keep track of attendance?

How could a man be so defiantly resilient in the face of his institutional superiors in 2004, yet not have taken control of the Sandusky situation in 2002?

How could a man so well-versed and clearly in love with the classics not see a real life sickening tale staring him in the face, the lead role cast by a man he’d knowing of for decades?

There aren’t answers to any of those questions, by the way. Admitting that is not helping resolve my understanding of what just happened.

It’s frustrating. What’s more so is that there are perfectly reasonable questions — what exactly did everyone know, what exactly did everyone do, why the hell was Sandusky in the weight room this fall? — that we aren’t likely to have answers to and therefore aren’t likely to be able to judge and project upon. Or maybe the specifics don’t actually matter. Prohibition was supposed to cure all social ills rather promptly in 1919. A mandate for full information about how the institution of Penn State failed might end with just as much futility.

Either way, we’re now living in a Paternoless world where the events just are, because of the conditions that caused them. I’m concerned by the very real possibility that this is going to have to be good enough.

The Underbelly of College Sports

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by now, but I am.

I’ve followed collegiate athletics since the late 1970s and in the time since, one would think we’ve seen enough to dull the senses: run of the mill cheating, point fixing, players murdering teammates, split personalities, coaches cheating on wives and beating secretaries, keep it down home ‘cuz and the list goes on.

But the Penn State situation has shocked me and taken my disgust level to new depths.  And the hits keep coming.

Today’s turn of events includes at least one person having the courage to stand up to Joe Paterno:

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Thoughts on Penn State

The “alleged” crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky and covered over by Penn State officials are horrifying.  They are so much so that “legendary” Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno should either step down or be fired.

I come to that conclusion because there’s no reasonable explanation for how he handled the situation.  Sure, he reported the 2002 incident to his boss, but apparently then washed his hands of the situation and went about his business. Keep in mind that in 2002, the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal was still fresh on everyone’s mind.  And in this environment, Paterno basically did nothing and that led to more children being abused.

Why would Paterno handle the situation this way?

1) Was Paterno, even so far back as the late 1990s, so far removed from his faculties that he had no comprehension of the situation and how it should be handled (other than reporting to his boss)? or

2) Was Paterno so narcissistic that he knew these type of allegations associated with someone in his program could possibly derail his quest for more wins?  Did he basically sweep these allegations under the rug so as to prolong his career?

What other reasons are there to explain how this was handled by Paterno and PSU officials?

There’s a lesson for all of us in this.  For decades, we’ve been preached to by the Big 10 about how they do things the “right way.”  But in the course of a year, we’ve seen that lie exposed – from Columbus, OH to State College, PA.  It’s easy to say all the right things, but tough often tough to do them when no one is looking.  I pray that if (when) I’m put into difficult situations such as these that I’ll have the courage to do the right thing.


He’s Stunned I Tell Ya

From Ivan Maisel at

“If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters,” Paterno said. “While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred.”

Yeah, I mean you only had an eyewitness – a former player, no less – come to you directly and tell you what happened.