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What Should Penn State Do Now?
Posted Nov 8, 2011

The Tuesday Question: What should Penn State do now?

Tuesday Question 

What Should Penn State Do Now?

TQs Sept. 27. The 14th SEC Team Should Be?.  
- Oct. 4. Overranked and Underranked teams  
- Oct. 11 Midseason Surprises and Duds 
- Oct. 26 Who'll finish No. 2 in the BCS

By Richard Cirminiello 

Take a very deep breath, and then begin sorting through all of the sordid facts.

As scandals in college athletics go, this is potentially as bad as it gets. I’m more than shocked by the allegations pertaining to former Nittany Lions assistant Jerry Sandusky. I’m angry. I’m angry that any child or family has had to go through what’s been alleged in the grand jury testimony. I’m even more incensed over the possibility that other adults related to the University did not step up and stop the bleeding when that opportunity was presented years ago. It defies all logic and sense of decency. Despite the heightened emotions that everyone is feeling, though, a knee-jerk reaction serves no purpose. Obviously, we’re no longer talking about Tim Curley or Gary Schultz at this point; from here on out, it’s all about Joe. When it’s Penn State, Joe is always at the center of the discussion.

What matters now are the details, many of which we’ve yet to be privy to. How much did Joe know, when did he find out, and what exactly did he do with that information? If he was complicit in any way with a cover-up involving a pedophile, his tenure must end immediately. Case closed. However, we need to hear his side of the story before any judgment can be meted out. He’s done enough for the game of college football, the program and the Central Pennsylvania community to at least deserve that.

Hasn’t his decades-long reputation earned him an opportunity to get his side out? That’s what I want to hear … sooner rather than later. Yeah, there’s a big game versus Nebraska this Saturday, but it pales in comparison to the real life drama being played out in Happy Valley.

This is bad. Real bad. And it’s about to get worse. Much worse. You can just sense that time alone won’t heal these wounds anytime soon. There ought to be swift justice for anyone who perpetuates the actions of a predator, particularly when a defenseless child is involved. Let’s just be sure that everyone shows his hand before we start tearing down the foundation.

By Matt Zemek

Some answers are easy and can be immediately put into practice; other answers depend on the knowledge of Joseph Vincent Paterno (what he knew, when he knew it); still other answers will have to wait until the legal system runs its course.

In light of an event this sickening and soul-crushing, actions are part of the proper response, but so is the manner in which they're carried out. This case is far too tangled and multi-faceted to be wrapped up in days or even weeks. It will take a great many months at the very least to process, investigate and prosecute. Therefore, the realm of what can immediately be done is limited, but within that realm, Penn State must act with the decisiveness that was so conspicuously absent from 1998 to the present day.

First, all the Penn State lifers who played a role in allowing Jerry Sandusky to roam freely must go. It's not up for debate or discussion because explanations aren't necessary in this case. The good ol' boy network so manifestly evident in State College must be thoroughly shattered and swept out of town. The only uncertain point is Paterno. If it is the case that he knew anything about Sandusky's deviant and despicable behavior - or the mere possibility of it - while Sandusky was still an employee (before retiring in 1999), Paterno should resign this very second and turn himself in to local authorities. If Paterno did not aid or abet Sandusky while Sandusky was still his defensive coordinator, JoePa should be allowed to finish the regular season, but once the regular season ends, that should be it for Paterno. There is now no good or legitimate reason for him to stay on as Penn State's coach in 2012. None. That's another point which shouldn't require much of any elaboration.

Second, this Saturday's home finale (senior day) against Nebraska needs to become a time when perspective, demeanor and decorum loom large. Accepting the consequences of bearing personal or communal shortcomings is the very act that must emerge in this last Penn State home game of 2011, this Twilight Zone environment in which football will - and should be - the last thing on anyone's mind in University Park. Penn State University should tell its marching band to stay home. The sound effects should be muted. The game should be stripped bare of any particularly celebratory or elaborate gestures, deferring to the Penn State seniors and quietly thanking them for their contributions to the school. Any rah-rah pomp and circumstance, however, must not emerge.

The halftime presentation should be 15 minutes of silent reflection, a time for a community to consciously come to terms with the unspeakable harm that has befallen many young and fragile lives. PSU President Graham Spanier's foolish statements over the past weekend are consistent with a rah-rah "We Are Penn State!" attitude that, if carried into this Saturday's game, would slip right back into a celebratory spirit that is not appropriate at this point in time.

This Saturday, the "defend and promote the institution" mentality must be visibly and thoroughly expunged from the Nebraska game. Precisely because this will be the last game - the only game - at Penn State before a whirlwind of changes greet the football program means that it's the only occasion in which the university can send a proper message to the world. This message must take ownership of shame and moral humiliation. It must take ownership of the evil that was allowed to flourish because of willful administrative protectionism. If Penn State treats this as just another gameday, it will fail on a scale that's hard to imagine.

Finally, in keeping with this notion that lavish celebrations are not in order at this point in time, it would certainly be best for the Penn State community and football program if a bowl game was rejected. Traveling, tourism, booking hotel rooms, and going to the expense of participating in a bowl game would not be right for a school that has betrayed a public trust, the trust of its students, alumni and donors. It's fair to allow this team - these kids - to play for a Big Ten championship if the Nittany Lions win their division, but a bowl game is a bridge too far and a display of inappropriate excess. Shutting down the season after Thanksgiving (or the first weekend of December) would hasten Paterno's departure and bring about the necessary process of overhauling a cancerous athletic department, eradicating the deep-set sickness that has turned Penn State University into a place of profound darkness in these colder than cold days.

In these next few days - especially through Saturday - one hopes that a school and its icon will do the right things for the right reasons under circumstances that are so horribly, grievously wrong.

Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

There's no doubt, heads are going to roll as a result of this. Two of them already have. But from all accounts, Joe Paterno isn't in legal danger.

Morally, on the other hand, is a different story.

This isn't a matter of what should have been done under Pennsylvania law, it's a matter of what should have be done to prevent this from happening PERIOD. Joe Paterno is going to retire soon, and whether he likes it or not, this is going to be a part of his legacy. He knew about this, and Jerry Sandusky still maintained access to the program. Sure, technically Sandusky's access was granted as part of his "retirement package" which Paterno has very little to do with; but he could still have intervened.

If these incidents were somewhat widely known, and more people in the athletic department were part of the cover-up, Penn State needs to clean house. You can't run a business - any business - where this type behavior is accepted or even ignored.

Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

This one is delicate to say the least. On one hand, there is some very troubling accusations, while on the other hand, they are just that--accusations. Tread lightly--but decisively.

Let’s put things into perspective first. This is not a sports story. This is mainstream, front page, morning coffee type of news that is going to hit from coast to coast. It just so happens that its DNA resides in the spinal column of the sports genre. It may not be as big as O.J. Simpson, but it’s big enough to shake the foundations of any institution to the core. It's a huge American story because at stake is the subject of absolute morality--of which there is no greater judge and jury.

That being said, because of the implications and accusations, swift, firm, and decisive action has got to be taken--Yesterday. We have already seen AD Tim Curley and interim Senior VP Gary Schultz step away from their posts to focus on the charges levied against them, but that’s not enough. It can’t stop here, it shouldn’t stop here, and it won’t stop here if the administration has any foresight and moral compass to do what’s right.

First and foremost, anyone caught up in a negative light with this thing has got to blaze the same path as Schultz and Curley and tap out as well. If it isn’t done voluntarily, then someone needs to come in an strongly suggest that the leave be “voluntary” without question. At this point in the game, the school just cannot afford to brush this under the morality rug and wait for the courts to do their thing. It’s time to do what is noble and clean this thing up from the inside out, which if all accounts in the grand jury report are accurate, is long past due.

That means that Joe Pa has got to be relieved of his duties. He is not implicated, but there’s enough there that says the smoke needs to be extinguished. Pulling the end of the rope further, the school president should also not be given any immunity to this disease that is festering. His crown of rule is all over this thing and an impeachment could be in order. A captain never leaves his ship, and if this Nittany Ship is going down, he’s going to the depths of the abominations abyss as well. He too, should take an extended vacation.

But let’s tap the brakes for just a moment. Levelheadedness is also needed in all of this. We have to remember that all of this is merely accusational at this point. Not a soul has been found guilty of anything, and each will get his say and due course in the court systems of our country. For this reason, dusting off the guillotine and having heads roll is not the thing that is needed. Administrative leave--sure, unemployment line in the most dishonorable way--not right now. A knee jerk reaction rarely brings healing, and healing is more than likely what will be needed going forward on a lot of levels.

Penn State won’t be without an eternal stain to the blue and white reputation that has taken decades to build once all of this moves forward. And if the testimony that’s in the grand jury document prove to be true, it will be a stain that should be worn like a scarlet letter of shame.

So, as we all take a collective sigh, reality and despair for these young men begin to sink in if accusations turn to reality. All of this pales in comparison with what we believe and know to be right and true, and that--is that life will always trump a game with less tangible and meaningful consequences.

It must trump it now as well. your move Pennsylvania State.

By Terry Johnson

The Jerry Sandusky scandal sickens me. If the allegations against him are true, Sandusky would have sexually abused eight children over a 15-year period. Worse than that, some of these incidents happened on the Penn State campus, and university officials knew about them as far back as 2002.

Sickening. Absolutely sickening.

No university – let alone a Big Ten school - can let a debacle like this get out of control. Penn State needs to take action, and they need to take it immediately.

Athletic Director Tim Curley has asked to take administrative leave. In addition, Vice President Gary Schultz has decided to retire for the second time. Since these two will no longer be involved with university until the matter is resolved, no action is required with regard to them.

Regardless of how the legal process plays out, Penn State still needs to do two things.

The first action that the university needs to take is to show the community that it does not condone child abuse in any way, shape, or form. In college athletics, money talks. As such, Penn State should donate every dime that it makes in this year’s bowl game to a charity (or charities) that helps prevent child sexual abuse. This would dispel the notion that the school cares only about the name brand of the university, and at the same time help a worthy cause.

In addition, Penn State needs to have a closed door meeting with Joe Paterno, and give him the opportunity to retire gracefully – effective immediately - so that they do not have to fire him.

Coach Paterno said in his statement to the media that, “Sue and I have devoted our lives to helping young people reach their potential”. If he wants to teach his student athletes to reach their full potential on and off the field, he needs to teach them one of the most important lessons in life – accountability. Even though Paterno reported the incident to Curley, it does not absolve him of his responsibilities as the face of the program. Since the alleged incident happened on Paterno’s watch, he had a duty to follow up with Curley to ensure that the appropriate action(s) was taken. He failed to do that in this case.

If Paterno steps down -voluntarily or not - he would teach his student-athletes to always act diligently, because if you do not, there will be consequences.

Please follow me on Twitter @TPJCollFootball