FanPost

Failure with Honor

This post will probably be obsolete by the time I hit "publish" but I wanted to get my thoughts out there...

There's a lot of people second guessing Paterno, acting like he's to blame.  He reported it to his boss, the AD, who in turn did nothing.  The AD and the President who support the AD's decision are to blame.  The argument against Paterno is that the AD is his superior "in name only" and that he had the clout, and responsibility, to shine a light on the situation.  Perfect hindsight can certainly understand and agree with this argument.  But that isn't reality.  Paterno told his boss - who might be his boss "in name only" but is still his boss - and his boss covered it up.  Institutionally, Spanier and Curley are to blame.  Legally, Paterno is safe.  Legality means little however when the entire country can read in graphic detail how Sandusky raped 10 year old boys in the Penn State locker room.  

Paterno's problem is that he has never before let us down.  No one assumes he's infallible, but until this he was.  Minor violations like underage drinking and marijuana possession get swept under the rug at most schools; Paterno punishes.  Poor academics rarely qualify for disciplinary action at most schools; with Paterno it can cause you to lose a year of eligibility either through a redshirt or just plain riding the bench.  The closest his reputation has ever come to being tarnished was in 2004 when he told the President of the school that if they had one more bad season he would retire.  The next season he won the Big Ten and the Orange Bowl.   

Paterno preaches "Success with honor," and that is the mantra that Penn State fans identify with when asked about the program.  On the field success is never determined through illicit means, through compromised principles.  Penn State and Northwestern are the only 1A programs to have never received a major NCAA violation, and nobody would ever confuse Northwestern's place in college football with Penn State's.  The world in which Penn State and Penn State fans exist is one of brilliant honesty in an increasingly corrupt and murky sport.  This is the world Paterno himself has established.  And, sadly, this is the world in which Paterno will be judged.  Legally, Paterno did everything correct.  Morally, he failed.  It's a feeling none of us have any experience with... some are angry, others are sad, but we're all confused. 

Outside of Paterno himself, Jerry Sandusky was possibly the most important Penn State coach in its history.  Linebacker U would not exist without him.  Thirty years' worth of success would not exist without him.  However, his actions are reprehensible and his legacy is now forever destroyed.  Sandusky cannot ever don the mantle of "Success with honor" again.  For Paterno, the script has been flipped.  There's no question the program he has built succeeds with honor.  The question now becomes, will Paterno fail with honor?

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