...And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become
as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:1-6
Nothing lasts forever...civilizations crumble, suns die out, even we all have shelf lives. Just like Joe Paterno. I knew the old icon would have had to hang it up sooner or later. But never, EVER would I have imagined it would end like this. It is not an honorable ending. It is an ugly one that is shaking up a venerable institution, and leaving shambles behind.
The last time something so seismic happened was the events that led to the firing of Ohio State coach and legend Woody Hayes. The venerable coach, like Joe Pa, preached hard work and civic virtue and his team was winning games. All that crumbled to the ground when Woody cold-cocked a Clemson Tiger player during a heated Bowl game, on live television. All that great work and legacy on the gridiron forever kicked to the curb because of a split second sucker punch. After that incident, Hayes was fired, his legacy forever tarnished.
In Joe Paterno's case, it wasn't his actions, but his inaction, that has led to his current disgrace. A former assistant coach and onetime possible successor, Jerry Sandusky, is charged with sexually molesting young at-risk boys in his care, and on school grounds possibly over a span of 15 years. For some reason, Joe Pa and his fellow coaching staff let this incident slide without reporting it. Now, it has exploded like an atom bomb, and like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is engulfed in a fire storm. Instead of a graceful exit from a program he built from the ground up, Paterno will be treated as less than dirt. Even Jim Tressel would be more easily forgiven, Maurice Clarette notwithstanding.
There are two kinds of people in this world I wouldn't hesitate to plug with a firearm if I knew without a doubt what they were...terrorists and child molesters. Both are despicable examples of humanity because of the fact they prey on the innocent. It is one thing if it involved consenting adults, or an equal battlefield, but when the victim in question is vulnerable and defenseless, the actions of these two groups of people strain any feeling of compassion for them. You would think mobs with pitchforks would be going after these kind of monsters.
Shockingly, Penn State students DID riot...but they were protesting the fact that Paterno was fired! Some 2,000 students (I would use a few choice words here, but you get the idea) violently protested the coaches dismissal, unlike the candlelight vigil that supported the "real" victims in this tragedy. Words fail me at the disconnect of some people...yes, Joe Pa is probably a good man, and is a great football coach. But when he was faced with what was a scandalous situation...he turned the other way. Who knows how many more were victimized by Sandusky before he was finally caught?
It is a shameful and sad way to end a career. No amount of PR or scrubbing can erase this stain. No victory is worth the life of a child...children who must now learn to heal from an ugly trauma that a coach could have helped prevent, if he would have just practiced what he preached. Now all that can be done is to punish the guilty (including the enablers), heal the victims, and make it so that something like this will never recur. For now though, the damage is done, and not even SMU would touch this with a ten foot pool.
It will be a long, long time before Happy Valley will ever return to its happy place. For people like me, it probably never will.