15 November 2011

Tuesday Football: F#¢kin' mee-owwww

Joe Paterno's last public act as a "legendary" football coach was to essentially beg the Penn State Board of Trustees for his job.  Had he kept his mouth shut a week ago, he might have at least coached last Saturday's game against Nebraska.  Instead, the trustees fired him and PSU president Graham Spanier for their role in the Jerry Sandusky child-rape scandal, which may now be spreading all the way to Texas.

Penn State was right to fire Paterno and Spanier, but the consequences shouldn't stop there.  If even a fraction of what I have heard and read about this incident in the last week is true, then the university effectively harbored a serial sex offender while he was still committing crimes.  The NCAA has imposed its vaunted "death penalty" on specific programs at specific schools for lesser violations, so Penn State would certainly be eligible for some form of that punishment.  I'm not sure SMU-style sanctions are necessary -- those took out the entire Southwest Conference as collateral damage -- but it would be a good idea for 107,000-seat Beaver Stadium to sit idle for a season or two.

Also, a head or two should roll at a sports-media outlet or two.  Jerry Sandusky was defensive coordinator for a team that won a national championship.  Why didn't anyone ask out loud why he never became a head coach?  On that count alone, this story should have broken out years ago.

A lot of people have wondered how this could have happened under Joe Paterno's vaunted watch.  It's not my place to call Paterno a tyrant, but his power on the PSU campus did bring to mind something I heard on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life the Friday before the scandal broke.  [So far, I can only comfortably call Paterno an arrogant fool, like Bobby Knight.]  The crimes and victims are, of course different, but the media and police are just as clueless. Listen to "Petty Tyrant" below, and see the parallels between the Steve Raucci and Penn State stories for yourself.

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