Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Paterno's enabling will be his undoing

embattled Penn State coach Joe Paterno
By John McMullen

Enabling can be a powerful drug and in the case of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, it will be his undoing.

By looking the other way at Jerry Sandusky's disgusting, dysfunctional behavior, Paterno has forever tainted the legacy he has worked so long and hard to cultivate and protect. By allowing an alleged child rapist on his campus, Paterno has lost all the Gravitas he has built up over 62 years in Happy Valley.

Like any other major institution that has fought to cover up this type of behavior, Penn State's problem was systemic. No matter what Paterno says today -- he was trying to protect his program at the expense of children that were likely raped by a guy who knows how to spot a good linebacker.

Everyone has their priorities and we now understand just how out of whack Paterno's and Penn State's are.

I'm sure Paterno thought he could sweep this ugliness under the rug and forget about it. After all he runs things in Happy Valley and anyone who thinks Tim Curley was Joe Paterno's boss, simply doesn't understand what goes on at Penn State.

The 84-year-old Paterno has been so inundated by yes man and sycophants over the years he thinks its appropriate to snap at a wet behind the ears reporter from Blue and White Illustrated that asks him who will be the quarterback on Saturday. He also likely really thought the national media would genuflect in front of him at his Tuesday afternoon press conference and stay away from all this unpleasantness. After all he's got a big game against Nebraska on Saturday.

The reality was far different. No one from FOX, NBC, CBS or ABC was going to be threatened by pulled credentials and someone with common sense canceled what was sure to be a disaster with Paterno looking as out of touch as ever.

 "Due to the ongoing legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's press conference cannot be held and will not be rescheduled," the athletic department said in a press release.

You can run but you can't hide from yourself. To call JoePa a curmudgeon at this stage is underselling things. The guy thinks he earned a lifetime pass from criticism when he upset Miami in the Fiesta Bowl back in 1987. How dare you show up in State College and question how he handles anything. You need new adjectives to describe what Paterno has morphed into these days. Words like ego and hubris simply can't cut it.

We keep hearing that Paterno followed the letter of the law when then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, a guy who is now on his staff, went to the almighty one back in 2002 and said he saw Sandusky with a 10-year-old boy in the shower room.

Whether Paterno was told about the "rhythmic slapping sounds of a sexual nature" that McQuearey described to authorities or the "horseplay" as Curley later described it, we now all know which way Paterno's moral compass points.

There are plenty people to dislike in the story. Sandusky is quite simply a monster and McQueary, a former QB at the school that claims he witnessed Sandusky anally raping a child and responded by leaving the building, are playing the leads better than any Bond villain.

Vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz also was reportedly informed of the eyewitness account, as was university president Graham Spanier.  Curley and Schultz then aggravated things further by allegedly lying under oath about what they knew.

But giving Paterno a pass is just drinking the Penn State Kool-Aid that is as tainted as anything Jim Jones prepared in Guyana.

This isn't a case of underage drinking or an off-campus fight over a girl. This was Paterno's right hand man for years that was given an office on campus after retirement in 1999 and brought troubled children from his foundation, The Second Mile, into the football complex of a taxpayer-funded, state-run university.

Why didn't Paterno call the police instead of Curley when McQueary alerted him to Sandusky's behavior nine years ago? Are we supposed to differentiate whether McQueary told Paterno that Sandusky was having sex with the boy or just touching him?

Why was Sandusky allowed to show up to football practice with another young boy? Why was he allowed to use the facilities on campus?

Because Joe Paterno allowed it.

Never forget that.

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