In terms of the recent affairs and allegations surrounding the Penn State football program, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the firestorm of rumor and opinion. With much of the story still missing there is quite a lot that Penn State fans just don’t know. That isn’t to say there aren’t informed opinions to be had but the misinformation circling this story can make it a difficult row to hoe.
One of the theories regarding Joe Paterno’s involvement is the belief that his alleged inaction after his report to Curley and Schultz was out of a friendship between himself and Jerry Sandusky. Certainly it does not seem far fetched that a man who had coached under Paterno for 32 years would have built some sort of relationship with him. But not everything is as it seems.
In 1999 a Sports Illustrated article covering the Sandusky’s retirement.
Sandusky was asked last week if he'll miss Joe Pa. "Well, not exactly," he said. "You have to understand that so much of our time was spent under stress, figuring out how to win. That takes a toll. We've had our battles. I've quit. I've been fired. I've walked around the building to cool off." Paterno says, "I'm not the easiest guy to work with."
This conflict came to head when Sandusky was informed by Paterno himself that he would not be Paterno’s successor. A surprise to many as Sandusky was seen as the obvious heir apparent to the Paterno throne.
Some may say that this is merely the result of a workplace conflict. That because you don’t like your coworkers does not mean you would jump at the opportunity to send them to jail. While there is plenty of truth to this, Paterno’s comments a few years later to the Center Daily Times indicate that Paterno wasn’t exactly sad to see Sandusky go.
"In staff meetings, it was getting to be “We'” and “You” and it should be “Us.” Jerry [Sandusky's] leaving gave me an opportunity to get that out of the way and do things I'm comfortable with," Paterno told the Centre Daily Times in January 2002.
For Paterno, as much as Sandusky brought to the table, he was almost breathing a sigh of relief when Sandusky finally made his exit.
While this relationship does not solve the answers to some of the pressing questions regarding Paterno’s actions it does make one wonder why Paterno would not act if he knew more. In one conversation with a shaken Mike McQueary, Joe Paterno was given the opportunity to save the image he had created at Penn State, and rid himself of a man he was all too eager to see go.
Ultimately we can only speculate on the motives and actions of Paterno, even with the Grand Jury report any serious conclusion in terms of motive is premature without the entire story. However it does seem that the speculation that Paterno acted on behalf of an old friend seems to be unfounded.