Saturday, January 17, 2015

THE COMEBACK OF JOE PATERNO


Joe Paterno has been dead since 2012, but the former Penn State legend appears to be in
the midst of making an epic comeback.

On Friday, the NCAA restored 111 of Paterno's coaching victories which had been vacated
as part of the near-crippling sanctions imposed on the school for the child sex-abuse scandal
involving former Paterno longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Paterno was fired by
the school he essentially built and his reputation was besmirched forever--or so many people
thought.

Many of those people, especially the ones who wear the colors of the Nittany Lions saw it
as a significant victory for Penn State and Paterno, who is once again the atop the record books
as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I football history.


There was suddenly joy in Happy Valley and a glimmer of hope the man who was the
beacon of university and all the good things that it supposedly represented, would get his
good name back. A breath of fresh air seemed to blow through campus for the first time
since the scandal broke in 2011.

The good vibes continued Friday when the Penn State hockey team wore decals on
their helmets that simply said, '409', which is the total number of wins Paterno compiled
in his illustrious coaching career.



Now, there is even talk of bringing back the 7-foot, 900 pound statue of Paterno that
was all but ripped off its moorings and put into some clandestine storage spot on campus
shortly after the NCAA lit into Penn State with those unprecedented sanctions.

Whoa! The comeback of Paterno is going full-throttle, I guess.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said the settlement did not serve to acknowledge any
error on the part of the NCAA or signal victory for Penn State. Yeah, right, try telling
that to fans, athletes, coaches, administration, and alumni who saw the once sterling
reputation of the school dunked in a cess pool. Try telling that to the Paterno family
who have been fighting so hard to restore JoePa's reputation.

Yes, the restoration of his 111 victories is a clear and present victory for Paterno and
Penn State, no matter what the NCAA and Emmert say. It's cause for the Penn State
faithful to thump their chests and say, "You see, the NCAA was too harsh on Paterno
and the program. Paterno got wronged and now they trying to make it right."


However, no one should be going overboard with the Paterno 'comeback.'

First of all,  it's sad that wins have once again become so very important. The people
in Penn State are celebrating as if the Nittany Lions got into next year's College Football
Playoff already.

Our society is obsessed with winning. I haven't read one article about Paterno and his
wins that mentioned the children who were sexually  abuse, having their innocence
stripped away long before it ever should have. Anybody ask them how they feel
about Paterno's "wins"?

Instead, people are talking victory for Penn State when a child-sex abuse scandal happened
on their campus.

I will never profess that I know exactly what happened on the Penn State campus with
Sandusky and those children. I'm not the kind of person who believes every I hear or read.
But it was crystal clear the administration at Penn State tried to cover everything up and
Paterno admitted that "he should've done more."

He knew about what was going on, perhaps, not in every grotesteque detail, but as the
kingdom of the university, Paterno pretty much knew about everything that happened
concerning his football program.


All of it happened under his watch and there should not be any "comeback" in the making.
I realize our country is a forgiving one and time allegedly heals all wounds, but there
is no reason to turn Paterno back into something he clearly was not: a saint.

Paterno, like many administrators at Penn State made some fatal mistakes and it clearly
cost him and the university. Why are people trying to make like the Sandusky scandal
never happened and Paterno had nothing to do with it?

Do these "wins" really mean anything to anybody except Penn State and the Paterno
family?

Some people want to try to re-write history and make Paterno a god again, which is
laughable in the first place. He, like Bear Byrant, Bud Wilkerson, Bobby
Bowdown and other coaching "legends" are not gods. They are just football coaches
who are flawed like the rest of us.

Let Paterno have his wins back and even his statue, but forget about the comeback.
Nobody, not even the brand that is JoePa, can make people turn a blind eye to the
scandal that happened at Penn State, like so many in the administration, including
Paterno, did.

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