At long last, my thoughts on Sandusky, Paterno and Penn State

A lot of people have asked me lately to write about the Penn State scandal.  I told them it wasn’t my place.

They asked me how I could possibly run a sports website without talking about one of the biggest cover-ups in sports history.  I told them I didn’t feel I could present anything more profound or meaningful than has already been written.  Words like tragedy, travesty, horrific and disappointing have already been used… and rightfully so.

I’ve actually tried to pay as little attention to the situation as possible.  I haven’t read any of the testimonials nor do I plan to, however, turning a blind eye to the events that occurred at State College has become difficult considering names like Sandusky, Paterno and McQueary have taken over the airwaves ever since the story broke.

The accusations against Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine only made Sportscenter more unwatchable.

As sordid details continued to come to light, I repeatedly asked myself how I’d feel if something like that happened at my alma mater.  But despite its recently, decorated trophy cases, the University of Florida doesn’t have quite the tradition of Penn State football, or at least doesn’t share the same, iconic head coach.  Few institutions do.

That’s really what made the story so shocking.  Had the same (alleged) incidents happened at a smaller school, under any other coach’s watch, it still would have been a tragedy, but not on such a scale.

As the news broke of the Penn State allegations, further irony came when Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski became the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history.  Only a week before, we were celebrating Joe Paterno for the very same reason.

Suddenly, wins and losses found their proper perspective.

Whatever happened on those campuses happened and it’s a shame that it did.  The optimist in me can only have faith that justice will be served.  It’s all we can hope for at this point.  It’s just unfortunate that it came at such a price.

This isn’t the Boston Red Sox drinking beer in the clubhouse.  This isn’t Ron Artest charging into the stands to beat up a fan who tossed a beverage his way.  This isn’t James Harrison knocking an opponent out cold or Rex Ryan giving some heckling fan the finger.

This is a loss of innocence at the hands of a few, disturbed individuals who used their positions of power to feed their own sickness.

The Sandusky scandal, and the inability of those close to the situation to do anything about it, has to be the most disheartening set of events to ever disgrace a football program.  The Fine situation isn’t far behind.  Coach Krzyzewski’s accomplishments only temporarily took our minds off the scandals that took place at similarly successful programs only a few states away.

Despite the billions of dollars surrounding college athletics, coaching is not about wins and losses.  Coaching is, and has always been, about building men and women out of boys and girls.  Somewhere along the line, Coaches Sandusky and Fine forgot about that, or maybe they never knew.

Either way, it will take a lot more than just wins before we’re ever able to forget the unforgiveable losses.

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20 Replies to “At long last, my thoughts on Sandusky, Paterno and Penn State”

  1. Good stuff. Obviously, you know my thoughts on this matter.

    But here’s another question to ponder from a crisis management perspective? Why did the Penn State story make the front page, where the Syracuse situation didn’t escape the sports section?

    I will have some thoughts on that coming soon…

  2. Not sure I have the answer to that one, Dub.

    My guess would be because the Penn State story broke first and allegedly went on for considerably longer?

    Boeheim is clearly as legendary in his own right as Paterno, so that part’s a wash.

    Either way, both Fine and Sandusky are scumbags and deserve what they have comin’ to ’em.

    Looking forward to your follow-up piece.

  3. Still truly disturbing stuff. Do like the fact that you wrote what coaching has always been about; I don’t recall hearing that said in any of the coverage of this sickness that I watched.

  4. DC…

    I think that’s what been lost in all of this, understandably so considering the horrors that occurred.

    I will say that the year I coached youth basketball at the Orlando Downtown Y was one of the most rewarding personal experiences I’ve ever had.

    I’ll remind you my team won the championship that year.

    Had to be the coach. I’m still polishing my ring.

  5. I think I was like you in that I tried to ignore the coverage, because I didn’t want to believe it’s true. Hopefully they get raped in prison over and over…

  6. Well Written Chris…. Piggybacking off of an earlier comment… you defined what coaching @ the college level is all about….. Very true! I hope you have Merry Christmas!


  7. Amen, bro. Incidents like these make it a tough break we live in a civilized society. The statute of limitations will free Fine and Conlin from any confinement.

  8. Hey wtf, Sandusky and Attorney Ameodore can use the Townshend defense. What’s that you ask? The famous ‘Who’guitarist when confronted with child pornography charges claimed he was doing research.

  9. Nichole…

    Thanks for reading.

    Ya’ know, everyone made a huge deal when George O’Leary lied on his resume about his coaching experience. It cost him the Notre Dame job a few years back.

    Well, how about some background checks for these coaches.

    You can’t get into a YMCA without a valid drivers license for just that reason.

    Perhaps it’s time for some of these schools to run some more prodigious background checks on the people they hire.

  10. RB…

    I’m no law student but that whole statute of limitations argument is bogus.

    I mean, did they do it or not?

    That’s our legal system at work for ya’.

  11. The answer to the question I asked will be addressed in my upcoming Dubsy awards. I have to explain that because I’ve gotten so many nominations for certain categories involving this situation and I need to discuss the selection criteria.

  12. Chris We now live in a society where it’s open season on kids and women in terms of sexual crimes . I mean if the colleges themselves can’t even deal with sexual assaults on their campuses with any degree of certainty then don’t at all be suprised by the idiocy that has gone on on the campuses of Penn St , Syracuse and others where such heinous crimes have been committed and the faculty there act as if they’re in apoplexy as to how best to deal with it all ! Now we have here within the state the hazing death of a FAMU drumline major and the faculty are acting as they’ve also done everything possible to avert such acts .

    Florida A&M President to Keep Job While Authorities Probe Hazing Death of Band Member

    What might be even worse in all of this has been the complete and utter incompetence also shown by law enforcement throughout each of the cases in question .

    tophatal ……….

  13. Dub…

    Looking forward to seeing that piece.

    Between work and obsessing over this whole Blog of the Year Award, I’m a touch behind on my reading, but you know I’ll be catching up soon.

    Thanks again for showing the love.

    Remember, another round of voting starts tomorrow.

  14. Chris

    Background checks essentially have gone the way of the doh-doh bird as they simply have become almost extinct ! Nepotism and the fact that a great many hirees on a college campus in large part not necessarily through qualifications but who that candidate may well know . All of this sh## about violence or should one say criminal acts on campus well let’s just say it’s all mute when even the law enforcement on the campuses make the Keystone Cops seem meaningful and competent . I mean how is it that in terms of sex crimes which has been a common factor on the college campus and more often than not rarely do you read or hear about an actual prosecution within the judicial system . Check that out for yourself and see . tophatal …………….

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