Paterno Takes Responsibility While Others Hide

Not one person could envision what has taken place in Happy Valley over these past few days. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, everything has changed. Our university is in shambles, and just one man is holding himself accountable.

For years, I have imagined the circumstances and manner in which larger-than-life coach Joe Paterno would finally decide to give up the reins as head coach at Penn State. Never could I have imagined what has occurred. These conditions are simply incomprehensible. It is hard believe how it all has developed so quickly. Since the gruesome details of this scandal emerged, we all knew his retirement was inevitable. Joe Paterno will not coach Penn State football next year. As a person who has loved Penn State my entire life, wrapping my head around that idea is not easy.

Those on the outside looking in with no connection to Penn State cannot even begin to comprehend what this man means to this university. Some will, and have, said that this is not good enough, and that Paterno should resign immediately. A man who has done so much for this institution should not, and will not, be forced out. Despite the recent events, at the very least, he has earned to right to finish out the season. He deserves the right to hopefully coach his players to a Big Ten championship.

These young men on his team are in a strange place. They have watched the chaos and news unfold just as we have. They need the support of the students and alumni more than ever on Saturday. Football should feel insignificant, but for many of us it will be an escape. We can show the nation what Penn State is really about by cheering louder than ever, and representing the best of our great school.

JoePa is at some fault here, absolutely. We would all be naïve to think otherwise. He could have, and should have, done more. He said so himself in the statement he released today. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life,” his statement read. “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

People will believe what they want to believe. The words from his statement can be interpreted in countless ways. Some will call it an admission of guilt. In some ways it is, but at least he has taken some sort of responsibility when others have run and hid.

The media has placed the focus on a man who should not be receiving the brunt of the scrutiny, but is an easy target thanks to his epic name and persona. It is clear that JoePa did not do enough, and that should not be forgotten. Aim your vitriol upon the key culprits and do not look past what Paterno has done for Penn State for 61 years.

It is hard to take a step back and look at this situation from afar when it is so new and we are right in the middle of it all. When I speak of Paterno’s legacy, football is not even on the radar. Look at the impact he has made upon the lives of young men for decades. He has long been a shining representative of what we strive for as Penn Staters: dignity, honor, and integrity. This is only one blemish on his record, though sizable.

In both his public statements and his appearance before the students on his lawn last night, he made sure we do not forget the victims. “I grieve for the children and their families,” Joe’s statement read. “And I pray for their comfort and relief.”

Amidst the madness, Joe Paterno still has his priorities in order.

Vilify cowards like Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz, and take a step back and appreciate what Joe has done, and how he’s owned up to his mistakes.

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About the Author

Sam Cooper

Sam is a senior originally from Newtown, PA who majors in print journalism and is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. His athletic peak was age 11 so he decided to grow a beard and write about sports instead.

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