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Vai's Hit Piece

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Jocks make terrible journalists. Case in point is Vai Sikahema and his hit piece on Joe Paterno and Penn State he tries to pass off as credible journalism today. Do you remember Vai Sikahema? He's the NFL kick return specialist from the 80's and 90's who also had a brief career as a boxer. Still don't remember him? I didn't think so. Anyway, now he's a "journalist" in Philadelphia. He's a dumb jock who can sit there, smile for the camera, and read a teleprompter. Apparently now he's trying his hand at this bogging thing too.

For the record, let me say I love Joe Paterno.

Anytime someone says "For the record I love so-and-so" you know they're about to slam them.

But I think his time has come.

It's not just this mess with his running back, Austin Scott, who was suspended from the team for missing a curfew. It turns out the reason Scott missed the team curfew was that he was with a coed is apartment. The young woman has accused Scott of raping her and Wednesday at a preliminary hearing, a judge determined there was enough evidence for a trial.

In the years Paterno has been at Penn State, his program has been a model. The graduation rate among his football team is the third-ighest among the nation's public institutions that play Division I-A football at 83 percent.

One hundred ninety Nittany Lions have been named All-Big Ten academic honorees, tops in the conference since they entered conference play.

Wow it almost sounds like a love letter.

But lately, it seems Penn State football has been in the news more for their criminal activity than for actually winning games and graduating athletes. In recent years, former players have been charged with everything from criminal trespass, sexual assault and burglary to murder.

JoePa himself made the police blotter with a recent road rage incident in Happy Valley.

Paterno is one of the greatest coaches of all time. He's 81 years old. He's won two national championships. What more does he need to prove?

Coach, do yourself a favor and retire after this season. It's clear you don't connect with this generation of athletes. You don't have classic pianists like Mike Reid playing tackle anymore. You have punks, thugs and outright criminals.

Walk away from this mess while you can or it will tarnish what has been a remarkable career.

First of all, other than a few underage drinking violations, nobody has been found guilty of anything yet so the "criminals" tag is inaccurate. Scirrotto, Baker, and Scott are all facing charges, but nobody has even stood trial yet. Isn't it a bit premature to be calling them "criminals"? Don't we still live in America where we are presumed innocent until proven guilty?

And the shot about murder is a cheap shot reference to LaVon Chisley, the former Penn State player that was charged and found guilty of murder. What Sikahema fails to mention is that Chisley was booted off the team before the murder ever took place. I guess Joe should be ashamed of himself for ever recruiting a guy that was destined to commit murder after his playing days at Penn State were over. Now Joe is supposed to be psychic.

Secondly, even if Scirrotto and the gang did break into an apartment and unleash Wrestlemania on a guy who admitted to sucker-punching Scirrotto, and even if Austin Scott is a serial rapist out there preying on innocent women every Saturday night, why should Joe retire for that? He's just a football coach. He only has control of these young men a few hours a day when their butts are on his football field or in his film room. Once they go out into the world they're on their own. Last I checked they're all at least 18 years old. They all have the right to vote for the President of the United States. They could all be called upon to go overseas and get shot at in defense of their country. They're men, and men are responsible for their own actions. You can't hold an 80 year old man responsible for the careless actions of 20 year old males on a Saturday night.

I, for one, do think it's time for Joe to announce how much longer he intends to coach, and I think that date should be no sooner than the end of the 2008 season. But the man has meant too much to the university, the fans, and the players to leave under a cloud of shame as Sikahema would suggest.