Let me make it clear. I am an objective observer to the Penn State University football program. I do not love/like nor do I dislike/hate the Nittany Lions program. And the same could have been said for head coach Joe Paterno up until two years ago when he defended a Florida State player accused of sexual assault and questioned the accuser during a press conference for a bowl game. At that point I began to question this guy's character, his sanity, and his mental capacity. I chalked it up as a stupid mistake and figured he would wise up.
Then the fine folks at ESPN kept a great week of ratings alive with tonight's piece about the Nittany Lions' problems off the field and what Paterno is doing about it. I am not giving a recap of it so I hope you have seen it to understand where I am coming from here with what is below.
After what I just watched on ESPN this evening, that's it folks. Joe Paterno must be released immediately even with camps about to begin nation wide. For those of you who watched SportsCenter tonight and the Outside the Lines story on Penn State players' increasing legal troubles and how Paterno is handling it all, I would assume you agree with me. Ofcourse if you're a Penn State fan you may be thinking I'm out of my mind to suggest to parting ways with a legend just days before another training camp is to begin. But Lions fans and others who disagree with me, put aside the football concerns for the moment (I know, pretty tough to do on July 29, I'm sorry) and think about what you just saw and heard from Paterno himself in that interview. I am the first to say ESPN has a way to twist things and make people look worse. But that was not the case here. Imagine you are the father interviewed in the piece, whose son was attacked by players and Paterno gave you the response he did as described by the father. Paterno was sickening, and clearly an embarassment/liability to any college president with an ounce of intelligence and integrity.
Don't get me wrong folks. I am not reacting to the stories regarding these players attacking and assaulting people at PSU. That crap unfortunately goes on everywhere these days. I would be a fool to think my USC Trojans are all complete angels. The point here is the public reaction from Joe Paterno in front of ESPN cameras with a chance to address this correctly or at least pretend to care. For those who saw this, you should realize he did not do this. He laughed it off. Plenty of coaches have had questionable responses to their players' off-field troubles. But none I have seen publicly brushed it aside like Paterno did in this piece.
It's clear to me, if Penn State University is an upstanding institution with integrity it will explain to this legend of the sport, unfortunately for everyone it is time to go. And start courting Greg Schiano for 2009 immediatley...