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If Only JoePa Had Retired . . .

. . . none of this would ever have happened! Really? With apologies to those who want to just get on with football, and to my wife, who thinks I am obsessing way to much on this, let's take a little stroll down Imaginary Lane and assume that Joe Pa decided in January 2001 that five decades was enough, and he rolled down his cuffs and returned to Brooklyn to open a bait shop.


So now it is February 2001, and New Coach has been on the job for 6 hectic weeks, and is finally getting a chance to catch is breath during term break. In walks Mike McQueary, who he has kept on as a graduate assistant. Mike tells him of a troubling incident in the showers the night before, but is not too explicit because he doesn't know New Coach very well. New Coach knows who Sandusky is, the near-saint who made Penn State Linebacker U, the man who could have had his job except he gave it all up To Help the Kids. He knows all this because it is everywhere, from the local press to fawning articles in Sports Illustrated.

Now, if people back in Real World are to be believed, New Coach immediately picks up the phone and calls the police. Is this, however, a valid assumption? Probably not, for a couple of reasons: 1) Mike, his father, and Dr Dranov did not do so, what would Mike tell New Coach he did not tell them that would make him call? 2) More importantly, University regs require that in this situation New Coach report to Tim Curley. So since this is just Imaginary Lane, and not LaLa Land, that is what New Coach does.

A week later, he sees Tim and asks him what happened. "Oh, Jerry brings a lot of the kids from his charity here, Jock Therapy, I guess you could call it. He works out with them, and then showers with them, trying to get them used to the rough housing and stuff that goes on in locker rooms. Kinda creepy, I know, but the police and DA investigated a couple years ago when a parent complained. They found nothing illegal. We'll let 2nd Mile know, they should protect the kids. And we are telling Jerry not to bring the kids around here anymore. Shouldn't be a problem."

Then years later, New Coach's explosive offense and the traditional rock-solid Penn State defense have led to two National Titles. With one loss on the season in November, the Lions are poised for another major bowl. Then, on November 11, 2011, the Grand Jury releases its presentment, and his whole world crumbles around him. He knew about the shower incident, and should have done more.

The final nail in his coffin is the editorial in Sports Illustrated: "Just being a great recruiter, or being an X and O wizard, is not enough to be truly successful in life. A man must have a sense of right and wrong, and the belief that other things are more important than football. It is unfortunate for Penn State that Joe Paterno retired when he did -- this would never have happened on his watch."

So ends our stroll. I think the folks who are so sure that the reason what happened happened was because Joe Paterno had too much power should think about what would have happened had he not been there. It was not because Joe was all powerful, it could just have easily happened with a new coach who had no influence. It happened because Jerry Sandusky fooled hundreds of people, including Joe.

Thanks for letting me rant. You may now return to talking about football.

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