There is a decent chance nothing I say here will change anyone's opinion on the matter, but I simply can't hold my peace on this subject.
While two weeks ago I couldn't have said anything bad about an incredible coach and true leader, I can now. Regardless of whether Paterno met the bare minimum, regardless of whether prosecutors may have heard the complaints and done nothing, Paterno - just like other authorities at Penn State - had a choice to make and chose wrong.
Even Paterno's son admitted to the Philadelphia Inquirer that after finding out about Sandusky, he never questioned him directly once. He never asked a coach on his staff to respond to reports of sexual abuse.
Imagine this scenario: You're in class at the end of the day, finishing up your notes and leaving last. You walk out with one student and teacher left, but forget your bookbag and come back a few minutes later. You walk in on this teacher forcefully putting him/herself onto the student, while the student resists. As a response, you go to the Dean of Students and file a report. For the rest of the semester, the same student and teacher come back to class every day and act as if nothing has happened.
What do you do? You go back to the Dean of Students and asked what happened. You make sure that a report was filed and taken to Police. If it wasn't, you do it yourself. This is common human morale, this is something that should be embedded in everyone. You act. You don't sit by idly as a molester continues to work in an environment full of potential prey.
I understand that this could have happened at any school. It could have happened at Pitt. It could have happened at Harvard. But that's just the point. It's not about Penn State. It's not about football. It's about Sandusky, it's about mentors being mentors, and it's about the victims of the heinous crimes.
A large group of students' response on campus at Penn State is only tarnishing their reputation more. Rioting for Penn State pride? There isn't one person that thinks that is the right or moral or just thing to do. Do you think Joe Paterno would want you tearing street lights down and destroying your home out of pride?
In fact, there is only person who would love to see the student body riot and tear up campus and make a big enough fuss to distract from what matters. His name is Jerry Sandusky.
Instead, those same students could have all donated five dollars and started a charity to promote sexual abuse awareness. They could have painted a mural to promote love and peace on the campus. They could have done anything, but now they've only cost their school more money and lost their school more respect.
This situation isn't easy, and it's not simple - but I'm not going to sit here and say I can't put myself in your shoes. I can. If my school was the one on every news channel and at the butt of everyone's jokes, I would respond by joining the ruckus to remove the coaches and the president who were involved. That should be the only goal.
Imagine if Joe Paterno stayed. Imagine the scene on Saturday when the victims and their families had to watch Penn State students rush the field and lift Joe Paterno on their shoulders in celebration. How would that make them feel? How would you feel?
I know it's beating a dead horse, and I know Penn State students will always make this "us vs. them" for the rest of time, but they can't. At some point, they have to realize that their fragile perspective of Joe Paterno has been broken - the man did do wrong, and he does have to pay. This won't be the end for him either. He'll be sitting in a court room before you know it, and rightfully so.
Furthermore, Penn State students have been preaching that their school is "more than just football." Well, my response: act like it. If you're more than just football, you could see that the decisions made by your board of trustees were the only good decisions made in the last week.
If you're more than just football you'll see that the Nebraska game doesn't really matter on Saturday, and that storming the field or standing tall with pride for Paterno and Penn State football would be idiotic.
If you're more than just football you'll think about how students of your school and members of your community had their lives effected by members of your football program.
If you're more than just football, you'll stop preaching about how you have the best school in the country, the best academics around, and you'll support an administration that is trying to right the wrongs. You'll stand behind that administration. You'll come together to honor those children who were raped, molested, and violated.
You'll come together because you ARE Penn State, but you are NOT Penn State football.
While you're reading, take a look at this article:
Please take note of the date this article was published. Terrifying.