Penn State University needs an overhaul.  Period.

An independent investigation into the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the campus and collegiate football powerhouse revealed a massive coverup by legendary coach Joe Paterno along with some of the most powerful administrative employees like the athletic director and university president.

When the news of a police investigation of alleged child molestation by former Penn St. coach Jerry Sandusky broke back in November of 2011, thousands of students, alumni, and others came forward, blindly supporting Sandusky, and even moreso, Paterno, claiming that he bore no responsibility for the several alleged incidences of child rape that often took place in his own locker room. 

Well people, its time to open your eyes and wake the hell up.  The proof is in the pudding, as emails proved Paterno knew of the allegations and used his power to keep the abuse an “in house” secret.  The athletic director and university president allowed this to happen, letting Paterno’s ego and air of invincibility take priority over innocent children. 

Is it fair impose a “death penalty” on the football team, punishing players and students that had absolutely nothing to do with the atrocities committed by Jerry Sandusky with the help of Paterno and other administration brass?

No, it’s not fair to the players, students or other staff who would lose their jobs with the suspension of an entire athletic program.  But what other possible punishment would be drastic enough to break through the gigantic egos of those who coach and run successful, cash-cow athletic programs? 

Success breeds power, and power leads to arrogance which often results in poor decisions meant to benefit the minority instead of the majority.   A year-long suspension for a coach, or scholarships taken away just isn’t enough to penetrate the psyche of people whose power is so monumental that they think the rules don’t apply to them.

Joe Paterno got off easy.  Perhaps a relatively swift fatal illness at an old age was a cleaner exit from this world than a prison stint as an elderly, high profile inmate behind bars for aiding a child molester. 

While Paterno’s death will ultimately benefit the university in terms of helping Penn St. shake this stigma sooner than if he were alive, traces of who we thought was a glorious man are still littered throughout the campus and the larger community. 

The statue must come down.  Buildings must be renamed. 

Unfortunately, the bad nearly always overpowers the good in terms of press coverage and lasting impressions.  While Paterno undoubtedly changed many lives for the better, his legacy will forever be tarnished.   Our memories of Paterno will not be a smiling man being carried off the field by adoring players, but instead, an old, desperate fellow begging the troops to rally behind him on the front lawn of his home.  A man in a strange state of semi-denial with no intention of ever telling the truth. 

The entire Paterno family has to disappear from the Penn St. campus.  Current and former players need to stop publicly defending JoePa and his family.  It’s time to submit to the truth, to reality. 

If it were up to me, I’d impose a death penalty on the entire university.  Shut down Penn St. for two years.  Drop all endorsements of athletic teams and academic departments.  Cut funding.  Freeze time for two years.  Force the brightest intellects and athletes to take their talents elsewhere, benefiting institutions that don’t allow a monster to terrorize children on its campus. 

Obviously, that would be beyond unfair to thousands of students, teachers, faculty, staff, etc.  It would be absolutely awful. 

But you know what else isn’t fair?  Being an 11-year-old child subjected to anal rape.  It isn’t fair that an old man and his cronies would rather perpetuate a legacy of lies than protect dozens of children from a lifetime of mental anguish resulting from physical rape. 

While the victim’s wounds will never fully heal, time will eventually restore dignity to Penn St. as an academic and athletic institution.  In 20 years, Penn St. will likely have earned back its stellar reputation with this disgraceful injustice serving as a little blip in the back of our brains. 

And that’s okay.  Do the crime, serve the time.  The university deserves a chance to once again be an impactfull member of our society.   But not until after it serves a sentence severe enough to send a message to the rest of the all-powerful college sports community. 

The majority of Americans are likely uncertain as to how to feel about the death former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.  Succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 85, the last few months were painful and ugly for Paterno and his family for so many reasons.  If one didn’t know him personally or have a connection to Penn State University, surely the demise of the legendary coach-turned-infamous bystander lends itself to a mixed bag of emotions.

On one hand, we know Paterno positively impacted thousands of lives on top of what he did for Penn State, serving as an ambassador, fundraiser, donor and face of the university.  One would think Paterno certainly did more good than bad in his 61-year tenure at Penn State, but I would bet that any victim of sexual abuse would disagree.   

Mike Bertha, whose Twitter profile reads, “I’m a Penn State grad from the ‘burbs and an assistant editor at Philadelphia magazine,” went to the Paterno statue on campus as news of Paterno’s quickly deteriorating health broke Saturday evening.  Bertha tweeted the following from the Paterno statue:

@MikeBertha: Student- he’s not just a football coach, he’s a grandfather figure. And if you’re not a part of the penn state family, you might not get that

I’m no Paterno apologist, but I can understand that statement at face value.  Many people worship celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc. while being unaware of the personal life and probable flaws beneath the facade of fame.  If we knew everything about our favorite celebrities and public figures, chances are we wouldn’t have favorite strangers anymore. Ignorance is bliss. 

While devastating for his family, friends and supporters, Paterno’s passing welcomes the end of an ugly chapter in the history of Penn State University and its football program.  Obviously, Paterno’s death won’t halt the pain forever felt by the victims who suffered at the hands of Jerry Sandusky.  The eventual prosecution of the perpetrator will help bring closure to the victims, but the university, alumni and State College community will require more than Sandusky behind bars to wipe the slate clean.  The loss of the man who possessed the power to stop the cycle and end the silence but didn’t, is certainly symbolic in a near-palpable way. 

Many were upset with the hiring of Bill O’Brien as the Nittany Lions head coach, saying “he’s not a Penn State guy,” and “how come nobody on the current staff even gets a chance to stay on board?”  After an unprecedented scandal of enormous proportion and even bigger perversions and heartache, cleaning house was the right thing to do for the university and its athletic program.  But with the beloved and embattled JoePa still residing right off campus in State College came the cameras, always ready to shine on him, the journalists on the front lawn with pens in hand, and attention consistently given to disgrace and downfall.  There would be no moving on with Paterno still in our sights and thoughts.

Surely, the first day Joe Paterno set foot on the Penn State campus was one of the best days in the history of the school.  Who would have thought we could say the same about the day Paterno died.

*Drawing above courtesy of Onward State, a Penn State online news organization
*Photo of candles and memorabilia at the base of the Joe Paterno statue on campus courtesy of Onward State twitter feed

Saturday Night Live Tackles Penn State & Joe Paterno

As soon as I turned on Saturday Night Live, my first thought was, “hmm…I wonder if they’ll talk about Penn State.”  After all, the child rape scandal dominated the national news over the last few days, so there’s no avoiding it, right?  Right.  I should’ve known better than to think anything was off limits or too taboo for the SNL gang. 

The show opened with a skit about Wednesday’s republican presidential debate in which SNL’s writers barely had to lift a finger given the fact that the candidates practically wrote the script for them.  With that right off the bat, I figured Penn State would be next and I wondered how the cast could possibly get away with a skit about such a sensitive subject matter.

About 45 minutes into the show, just when I was beginning to think SNL was going to sweep the scandal under their comedic rug, the Weekend Update segment started. Right then I knew Seth Meyers would be the man given the task of trying to make such a heinous situation laughable. 

Believe it or not, I think SNL got it just right.  The angle they took was funny yet inoffensive.  Put it this way… even the Devil himself was disappointed in the evil happenings in Happy Valley.  Watch and enjoy.