My my, but how quickly the worms turn and burrow into the ground, don't they?
I had not anticipated writing a Part II, until after I had returned from Penn State Saturday, and the Nebraska game. Events, however prompt me to dig a little deeper into the madness, and dare I say utter stupidity that has engulfed Creepy Valley?
Not my nickname, someone else came up with that, I forget who. In any case, I woke up this morning to learn of the latest maneuvers from up North-Central PA way...
This was written by my boss at WITF, Tim Lambert. The most recent situation had been that in the wake of the ongoing Jerry Sandusky scandal, his former superior, Joe Paterno (aka, JoePa) (aka, God) had released a statement. He announced his resignation, effective at the end of the season.
I think the portent of what all had gone down finally sank into the 84-year-old coach's mind...the statement was obviously written by someone else, but I will try to be fair and say that it articulated what Paterno wanted said.
In effect, JoePa fell on his sword. He admitted not doing enough, he apologized and pledged to do what he could for Penn State and football to the end of his life.
I want to believe him, I really do. I have not been the most generous person in terms of my comments about PSU, the culture, the hero-worshipping of Paterno, the football program, and the 70 million dollars a year that program brings in...estimate, yes, but that's a figure to make the most holy of holies jump up and shout, "JESUS CHRIST!"
As if what Sandusky is alleged to have done to those kids wasn't enough. More on THAT later.
I have often felt that when it comes to politics, religion, the corporate world, and yes the world of academia, there is a rareified air that the elders experience. Experience it too much, and you lose touch with reality.
Such a matter is the case with the Penn State Board of Trustees. Did you see that collection of largely old, white, baldies? Sitting there, so stiff and conservative in their blue suits, sniffing and snorting and harumphing about these intolerable acts committed (allegedly) by Sandusky, and enabled (allegedly) by Graham Spanier, Paterno and Dumb & Dumber (read my earlier blog and you'll see what I mean).
The 48-member board was supposed to meet Friday, and I think they still will. But a hastily-gathered collection of these old bromides decided to act swiftly and forcefully, they'd have you think.
Their first act was to fire Spanier; this comes as no surprise, considering that Spanier didn't even have the balls or the sense to offer his resignation. At least Paterno did that.
Spanier was a worthless cog in the Penn State wheel, a puffed up figurehead and whipping boy for everyone from the topmost echelons of the university, to the bottom-feeding politicians and media members. His loss is not a loss at all.
But then the Board went and committed their own gaffe...note the title of this blog, which is borrowed from the Nixon Administration during Waterage...the "Modified, Limited Hangout" is now the "Modified, Limited, Complete & Total Fuck-Up."
Nice going, guys...which of you came up with this brilliant idea of essentially assembling before the media and saying of Paterno: "HE DOESN'T QUIT, HE'S FIRED."
[Isn't it ironic? Eric Clapton's version of "Before You Accuse Me" just came on my iTunes...but I digress.]
Well, well...I was discussing this with my girlfriend Alice (she of Edgar Alice Poe fame here in the blog world)...just what have these stuffed-shirted venal creeps done?
I will tell you.
THEY HAVE JUST MADE A MARTYR OF JOEPA. HE IS NOW A VICTIM.
When they could have accepted Paterno's resignation (the only correct thing he could have done, under the circumstances), the board could have just sucked it up, realized that Paterno had beaten them to the punch, and said, "OK...he's out at the end of the season; we can get a new president, an interim coach, and we can start fresh in the off-season."
THEY TOTALLY HAD TO FUCK IT UP.
Now, Paterno has been made a martyr, especially to those who stand by him and still see him as a God-like figure, the face of Penn State, and so forth and so on.
Paterno had been sadly disgraced. I never bought into his "Aw, shucks" mentality, and the cult of personality that was built around him all these years. He was leaving under a cloud of suspicion...what did he know about Sandusky's alleged escapades...and when did he stop knowing it?
Then we have Maureen Dowd's comments:
The second-guessers all complain from a position of "morality," something most of them have no right to preach from, that Paterno should have done more. Like call the police himself, not just inform his superior, the Athletic Director.
Well, there is a certain protocol at Penn State and elsewhere, and it might have gotten JoePa in big trouble if he had done so. He could well have been fired (for him, highly doubtful) for going over other's heads.
The apparent rules of engagement are that you notify your superior of any situation like this. Paterno did so. There is no proof that he was part of the problem in sweeping this all under the rug.
Think about it: whether you love, like or hate Paterno...his career was OVER. He was essentially being forced into retirement, whether he wanted it or not. This cloud would hang over him for the rest of his days, even superceding all the victories, the bowl games, the two national titles, all that stuff.
Instead? The Board of Trustees just made him a martyr. Now, for a bit of martyrdom:
Nice going...y'all stay classy up there, Penn State. I love how Pennsylvanians love to stress the wondrous virtues of their state university, up there in the middle of nowhere, where there's no one to jaw with but the cows...your wonderful, virtuous students...well, we've always known that college kids, no matter where they are from or where they attend are gonna act like assholes from time to time.
The screaming that Paterno (and the PSU community) was cruelly wronged, can be taken from the summary firing (over the phone, reportedly...classy, Trustee peeps) and now there's ammo to use in the war.
Guys like these:
Boy, there's a set of upstanding young men, ain't they? Well, the second guy was trying to be coherent, but his moral high ground is as shaky as the trustees. Sorry kid, that's how I see it.
What bothers me is how so many allegedly intelligent people can believe that Paterno should still keep his job, take away the resignation after all this. A few in the minority do say Paterno has to go...okay...he did that, but look...now he's a martyr.
The rioting of last night is nothing compared to what I fear is going to happen as this keeps snowballing.
In the middle of it all, is this cruel sickness:
How the fuck can you joke about the alleged rape and sexual assaults of children?
Sounds like something you'd hear on a shock-jock program...something one of Don Imus' minions, O&A or Mancow would dream up. Howard Stern would probably just say it outright, as would most of the degenerate turds that populate sports radio.
What a mess...you know what, here's my take, for what it is worth:
--Paterno fell on his sword. The board should have accepted that.
--Spanier did not fall on his sword. The board was right to fire him.
--But they decided to stick their tiny little daggers into Paterno's ribs and extract their personal pound of flesh and fire him anyway.
Sure, coaches get fired right and left in sports; but like this?
--So Paterno is now a victim; speculation is he could sue for wrongful termination, but I don't think he will. He has nothing he needs to prove, now.
--The old men of the board I'm sure will weather this storm, and then head back to their ivory towers, drink their cognac or whiskey, oversee their corporate whatevers and ruminate about the good ol' days when things like this didn't get talked about.
NOW for the "more on that later."
There is something pervasive in Pennsylvania, but I think in a number of areas of this country where political and religious conservatism takes hold.
There are an awful lot of things that the rural mentality still believes should not be talked about, no airing of the dirty laundry in public kind of thing.
Sex is the big taboo. Any kind of sexuality is to be abhorred, feared and turned from.
Since I started working down here in 2000, I have worked in news rooms, lots of them. One thing I noticed, that became appalling to me:
We would get faxes from State Police barracks all over the region, mostly from the midstate and up in the region where Penn State's main campus is located. It would be all the reports of crimes, arrests, this and that. A lot of very picayune things.
And a lot of sex crimes.
Not a day went by that someone wasn't arrested or being sought for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman, or a child. The latter was quite often.
I had trouble wrapping my head 'round that. Was it just better reported? Had this been a bigger thing?
I think so.
I will stress that stories that have come from friends of mine who have lived here all their lives, and these are credible people. Sexual abuse, rape and attacks like what Sandusky allegedly did to kids go on...they have gone on for years. Largely they go unreported.
Because it's not something anyone wants to deal with. The victim is always either a slut or a liar; the perp is always a fine, upstanding person, and in so many cases, a fine "Christian."
You would not believe some of the vile things that "Christians" say in defending and making excuses for people, some of whom are now doing long stretches in prison, and who likely will not live to get beyond the prison walls. You know what they do to rapists and child molesters in there, don't you?
Up there...oh yeah, same mentality pervades. You don't talk about these things, you sweep it under the rug, and hope it doesn't happen again. You allegedly comfort the victims, but of course it's their fault isn't it? Always the victim's fault.
If they hadn't dressed like that, if they hadn't acted like that, if they had only been good little boys and girls, this wouldn't happen. Yeah, right.
So yeah...here we go again. More insanity, more emotional ranting, raving, screaming and I'm sure more carnage to come.
Saturday is the final home game for Penn State this season. They're 8-1, but honestly, they're not that good. They've played cupcake teams all season, but for Alabama, who beat them, and they should have had Temple (not even in the Big Ten, but the Mid-American Conference) and Northwestern for lunch. They escaped with wins in both cases. They're ranked 12th in the country, but they're not that strong. Nebraska is ranked 19th, but only because Northwestern rolled them last week.
Saturday is also Senior Day; the day they honor all those senior footballers that made it all the way through four years of the program. They deserve their day; those kids didn't have a thing to do with this.
Question: do they deserve to have their coach and mentor there? No. It does not matter; Paterno resigned (or was fired). They must go without him.
Either way, they're either gonna be so distracted or so fired up, the game could go either way. I'm leaning toward a distracted football team that is gonna get both ends of its ass handed to them. The Cornhuskers are not gonna show any mercy if they get the lead.
What about tonight? What about Friday night, and the tailgating that is stock in trade for any pro or college sport Saturday?
I am going to be up there to cover the game, and I'm going to have to walk through what normally is one big cookout: it's a day of fun, being with friends, grilling, beering and boozing it up before going into the cathedral that is Beaver Stadium and enjoying the game with 105-thousand friends and fellow alums.
It's a sea of blue and white...in warm weather, Penn State jerseys are the uniform of the day, and in the winter it's the same, though hopefully they wear something warm under that...they don't always.
I wonder even more what it will be like. Will everyone try to put on their best face and get ready for some football? Or will people be looking for trouble, a reason to spit on the Board of Trustees and the university as a whole, an excuse to cause more damage and destruction to make their feelings known...
...for a football coach?
Sorry, Penn Staters, but Joe Paterno is not a god. He was a coach, a very good football coach who won a lot of games. It's sad that one decision may or may not have been taken further by him than he did, and perhaps that should not be his downfall. That will be debated forever.
But he is a football coach...coaches come and go. Yes, I understand how much love and respect you have for the man, and for 99% of all things, it's deserved.
As I've said...Paterno followed the channels he was supposed to when reporting the alleged incident in 2002. Should he have done more? He may not have been able to, under the bylaws. Second-guessers will say he had the power to do more, and should have.
They will also say that he should have looked deeper into the matter personally. This is all Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
In the end...the Board of Trustees got it half-right. They cashiered Spanier, who obviously was arrogant enough to think that offering his resignation was not something "HE" had to do.
But firing a man who already fell on his sword, with the damage taken? They blew it. They showed they are as myopic in their views, and as disconnected from reality as all the others who sit in the air up there.
They could care less about the university, the students, anyone; it's all about their exalted, phoney-baloney positions. Their efforts to get out in front of the problem made them look half-hearted, and downright stupid.
Now, that said:
When in this world of ours, will we grow up?
When will we see football as a sport, and not a religion?
When will we see that abuse of those most unable to defend themselves is something must be faced, no matter how painful it might be?
Now, Penn State, from the top down is going to have to face that reality. The victims (alleged, yes for now), their families and everyone involved are going to suffer more than needed to.
They are all going to suffer much more than they should have ever had to.
As I say, it's time to face that these acts must no longer be tolerated, hushed up, shut away and denied. If they are credible, they must be dealt with.
Will they (and we) have the balls to do it?
Time will tell.
I wonder even more what I'm gonna find when I go up there Saturday. I really do.