Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Say it ain't so, Joe...

When it comes to Pennsylvania legends, Joe Paterno probably ranks somewhere just under Ben Franklin and above William Penn and "Mean" Joe Greene. Head coach of Penn State for 45 years, most people figured his tenure would end in a similar fashion to Supreme Court justices.

But with the increasingly disturbing allegations of sexual abuse and subsequent cover-up swirling around Penn State, it's becoming infinitely clearer that the time for Paterno to step down as coach may be sooner rather than later.

Has he run a clean program as far as NCAA rules are concerned? Yes. But while protecting your players, your reputation, and your school certainly are admirable actions (and somewhat rare in the do-or-die world of college athletics), doing so at the expense of innocent children makes you a coward and a monster, not someone to be revered.

Yes, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But as the number of children that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually abused grows, so does the sadness and anger that university officials aware of the allegations for years did nothing to ensure it stopped. While Paterno informed Penn State's athletic director of one instance of alleged abuse he was told about, Paterno was happy to stay out of the fray. And that included turning his back when university officials continued to do nothing regarding the abuse accusations, and allowing Sandusky to continue to use school facilities to run his foundation for at-risk children, where he met those he allegedly abused.

Paterno taught his players courage, teamwork, sportsmanship, and drive. Sadly, it appears that the teacher did not heed his own lessons. It's time for Paterno to bid farewell to Happy Valley and think more about the lives changed because of things he did not do than those changed by the things he did.

Those children allegedly abused by Jerry Sandusky at the very least deserve that.

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