Opposing views: the firing of Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno

Tyler Davis | Contributing Writer / Eliza Dillard | Opinion Editor

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Remembering JoePa’s Legacy

The emergence of the Penn State child abuse scandal has cast a dark shadow over the Penn State community and the state of Pennsylvania, which will likely last as long as the tenure of the coach they just lost. According to one former Board of Trustees member, “This is like 9/11 for Happy Valley; it will affect the community consciousness for years.” For Penn State Nation, Joe Paterno is God. One area church’s pastor even compared Penn State’s practice of game day whiteouts with St. John the Divine’s entrance into Heaven. For over five decades, the Paterno name has been synonymous with class, leadership and strong moral standings. Paterno is considered by many to be one of the greatest teachers of young people the world has ever seen; so much so that ESPN even aired a two-hour special this past July called “Difference Makers” in which Paterno discussed how to be a positive role model and influence to kids. The fact that this man has been forced out of his job after over 60 years of positive service to his community is absurd.

The crimes that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been accused of are truly atrocious and sickening. If he is indeed convicted of any of the charges, he should certainly spend the remainder of his life in prison. Current Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary testified before a grand jury that on March 1, 2002, he witnessed and stopped a situation in a Penn State football facility shower involving Sandusky and an unidentified young boy. McQueary informed Paterno of the situation, who immediately reported the incident to his superiors, including the athletic director and president of the university.

Considering  Paterno did not witness the crime firsthand and was not responsible for the individual in question, why does the public seem to believe that it was Paterno’s moral duty to go straight to the police? At this time, Sandusky was no longer an assistant coach of Penn State or a member of Paterno’s football staff. Sandusky’s reason for being on the campus was due only to his involvement in a charity and camp for young children in the community, an event which was overseen by the administrators of the university, not the football program. Yet still most have called for Paterno’s head as a result of the incident.

Joe Paterno’s legacy will never be the same, but in many people’s eyes he will remain one of the greatest individuals to ever live. Despite his tremendous success on the field and in the booth as one of the best coaches in football history, he is an even greater teacher and role model off the field. What happened at Penn State is extremely sickening, and I truly hope those responsible are fully prosecuted, but that does not include Joe Paterno. The news of Paterno’s exit from Penn State is very depressing to all of us associated with Penn State University and the Pennsylvania community. For many people, he has been a symbol of honesty and respect their entire lives. With the departure of the man who coined the phrase “The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back,” the sports world will be losing a truly remarkable coach and mentor. Although a lot of people will never view him in the same light, those who saw his positive impact on the world firsthand will never forget. We love you JoePa.



 Rioters react wrongly to Paterno firing

I understand that football is an American staple. I understand that Pennsylvania State University is known for its outstanding football team. I understand that Joe Paterno is a legendary coach. I also know that the way that a portion of Penn State students is reacting to his firing is slightly disturbing.

Under Paterno, at least eight boys were molested by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The fact that Penn State students are rioting over Paterno’s termination is ridiculous. Yes, this was Paterno’s 62nd successful season with the Nittany Lions and he was on the brink of retirement, but to allow Paterno to continue coaching after he allowed Sandusky to get away with such horrific acts would be devastating to Penn State’s reputation as a school. It doesn’t matter how much he has done for the school’s athletic program. The fact is he did nothing about the molestation of these young boys, and that is unacceptable. Penn State should want nothing to do with someone who allowed this to happen.

What if this happened at UNCW? If one of Buzz Peterson’s assistant coaches pulled a Sandusky at a summer camp and Peterson didn’t say anything, I’m sure he would be fired, and I’m sure people would support his firing. Just because Paterno has this great legacy does not mean that everyone should just give him a break.

The rioting students at Penn State have lost sight of the issue at hand, and it’s reflecting poorly on the entire school. Before this incident, I thought of Penn State as a respectable school on and off the field. After reading some of the news reports on the student body’s reactions, my view of the school has shifted slightly. Somewhere out there, the eight or so abused boys are watching as people fight to preserve the honor of the man who said nothing. They are watching rioters fight for one of the few that could have possibly prevented this from happening.

Some people grieve that Paterno’s status as a college football legend has been ruined, but he brought this upon himself. The ball was in Paterno’s court the entire time, and he chose not to make a move. The situation could have been avoided entirely had he had the boys’ best interests in mind; however, he did not, and now he must suffer the consequences.

The rioters and all of those upset about the firing of Paterno need to take a step back and realize that this issue is so much bigger than the sport of football. Paterno is a filthy rich 85-year-old man who has, before this incident, had a relatively great life. The victims of Sandusky’s wrongdoings had their whole lives ahead of them and are now mentally scarred because of him. All these boys have left is to see justice be served to the men who did them wrong. Paterno was one of these men, so justice must be served.