“Success with Honor is a daily, active goal, not an end result, and achieving that goal is defined not solely by how much you win, but moreover how you win.”
Before the recent events that unfolded over the past few weeks, the above statement in the Pennsylvania State University Strategic Plan for Intercollegiate Athletics was something the Nittany Lions built their reputation on. Now, those words are meaningless, and rather disgusting.
There is no honor in what Athletic Director Tim Curley did. Nor is there honor in what Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz did. And there is nothing honorable about the actions legendary head coach Joe Paterno took when informed of the situation.
I’m not here to argue about whether or not Paterno should’ve been allowed to stay. In my opinion, he needed to be fired. Even if Paterno did everything that he was “legally” required to do, Penn State couldn’t allow Paterno to be the face of their university after he turned a blind eye and allowed the things that happened to occur.
In fact, it only seems fitting that the man who could’ve stopped all of these atrocities from happening with a simple phone call, was fired over the phone late Wednesday night.
Obviously, Paterno is not the person most at fault, that would be Jerry Sandusky. However, Paterno had the power to stop and prevent Sandusky from doing any more harm, yet he failed to do so. Paterno isn’t the only person to blame – Mike McQueary, Tim Curley and plenty others deserve blame – but because of who Paterno is and who he represented in the public eye – right or wrong -he will receive the most scrutiny.
Before I go any further, I want to note that I have read the Grand Jury Report. Everything in this blog post is based on the findings of the grand jury. My eyes have traveled up and down all 23 pages of the report with each and every sentence adding to the nauseous feeling in my stomach. If you haven’t read the report, and you want to be as informed as possible, I suggest you do. Just a warning, the material is graphic.
In wake of everything that has happened, I found one tweet from Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) that stood out from the rest of the collective incoherent shouting of some of the Penn State student body.
“I saw a girl crying tonight. When I asked why she said: “Because everybody lost.”
First of all, and most importantly, the innocent victims of Jerry Sandusky’s heinous acts lost. I cannot express the sadness and sympathy I feel for them. I cannot express how infuriated I become when the focus drifts away from what these young, helpless boys had to endure. The victims of Sandusky’s crimes are the story, not whether or not the idiotic rioters in Happy Valley knew what they were rioting for.
Second, what Joe Paterno did was 100% legally correct, and 100% morally incorrect. He failed as a human being. Paterno was too busy drawing Xs and Os to dial 9-1-1 and he lost sight of the simple fact that there are bigger things than football. He put his football legacy before the lives of innocent children and that is inhuman.
Finally, we, as a collective whole lost. We lost everything that Penn State University stood for. Sadly, we lost the person that Joe Paterno was built up to be. The reputation of Penn State and the legacy of Joe Paterno will be tarnished for much longer than it would have been for any recruiting or improper benefits scandal. This is much, much worse.
Penn State was a university that people – myself included – admired because of its squeaky clean history and the success it was achieving with honor and integrity. Joe Paterno was a role model for all people to look up to. Paterno was a person that parents told their children to model their lives after. Paterno’s large effect on people’s lives should not go un-noted. He positively impacted so many people’s lives that they could probably stretch from East Lansing to Happy Valley. But in this instance, he failed to live up to the standards he established throughout his life’s history of simply being “JoePa.” On and off the field, the perception was that Paterno did it the right way, and that was something we should all strive towards.
We believed in them. We were lied to. And we were wrong.
No, you were Penn State. Now, you’re a program in limbo. You’re a program in crisis control that has a major rebuilding project ahead – not as a football powerhouse – as an academic institution, all because you lost sight of what is more important in life.
You have both lost your identity. And we have lost you.