Football in Happy Valley has for years been one of the most steady things in sports. Joe Paterno (R.I.P) lurking the sidelines, easy to find with his thick, somewhat murky glasses and that slow, slow waltz from wherever he was to wherever he was going. The big, white pom-poms amongst a sea of white and navy-blue shirts during the day, or white-out conditions in the stands during night games. Hot or cold, wind, rain or snow, Beaver Stadium was always one of the treasures of college football. History was made on a seemingly weekly basis while “Joe Pa” built his unprecedented resume by winning the most games ever by a coach. But the record books will not remember him.
Penn State fell victim to the NCAA’s lately unforgiving hand towards those that do not follow the rules and embody the college spirit. As President Mark Emmert and his colleagues laid down the law on a once impressive and in some ways untouchable program, he called their situation a “conspiracy of silence”. Patrick Allen of FanSided wrote up a good article summing up the penalties that have been handed down:
Here are the details:
1. Penn State must reduce 10 initial scholarships and 20 total scholarships each year for four years.
2. Four-year postseason ban.
3. $60 million fine. Emmert says the money will go to organizations that help children.
4. Vacate all wins from 1998 to 2011. Joe Paterno wins record is thus wiped from the books.
5. Penn State players are allowed to transfer immediately, without penalty.
Penn State will sign a “consent decree,” basically meaning they are on board with the penalties. There will be no appeal.
It is a sad day for me personally (and I imagine for hundreds of thousands around college football), because of the legend that is being burned to the ground. I remember the statue being put up as one of those memorable moments in sports. Joe Paterno has been destroyed because the officials at PSU decided not to follow through with authorities to save face for the program. I sincerely think he did the right thing initially and was likely told that if he did anything more that he would be under the gun for the fallout of whatever actions were taken against PSU.
It’s a tough position to be in and I do not envy what he went through in making the decisions that he made to keep quiet. Since there is no proof, I could of course be wrong, but I cannot imagine a stellar guy like Paterno not tossing and turning in his grave over what transpired. I think he did all he could do to douse the flame but the situation was too big for even him. I don’t care what you think or say, besides the ESPN Gameday specials that always brought an emotion of joy and respect for the man, those that knew him raved about his passion for the well-being of his kids. I’ll always believe that he was not the guy that just stood by and watched all of this transpire in total silence.
As fans, it’s our duty to remember that his entire life revolved around everything that came with being the head football coach at Penn State. He didn’t know anything else, that was his calling. So when he was told he would become the guy tied to the train tracks… well, nobody will say it but we all know he was told that. They’ve been trying to get rid of him for years upon years but never could because of the uproar it would have caused in the community. He did do away with Sandusky on his staff and did what he could to put out the fire, but with no support he must have been in agony. Regardless, it is too bad that he will not be remembered the way he should be over the horrific actions that he did not actually have anything to do with.
I am also sad for the Saturdays that will not be the same for the next several years due to all that is for this program. Happy Valley will not host a winning program for a long time and it is a bitter pill to swallow. As much as I wish they could do something different while handling of the legend of Joe Pa, I do think that the NCAA has done the right thing overall with the university and in particular, the football program. It obviously had to be done. God only knows how many lives have been crippled because of the actions of Jerry Sandusky, and Coach Paterno was at the head of the program for the entire duration of those crimes. A bad judgement in character was made, a terrifically bad judgement. I don’t know if Penn State will ever recover in the eyes of the fan, but we can only hope that the program’s rich tradition will return in time and become one worth remembering.