11/10/11 — OPINION: Paterno did not do enough

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OPINION: Paterno did not do enough

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 10, 2011 1:48 PM

Joe Paterno, for 61 seasons, had one ultimate goal each day when he went to work -- serve the best interests in Penn State and the young men entrusted to his care.

Somewhere along the line he failed.

The child-sex abuse scandal that has rocked a picturesque college town in recent days led to what one expected Wednesday afternoon. Paterno announced his retirement, but the school's board of trustees went one step further and fired the College Football Hall of Fame coach in an emergency meeting later in the evening.

PSU president Graham Spanier got the boot, too.

Known for his thick-rimmed glasses, windbreaker, tie and khaki pants, Paterno won a record 409 games -- the most by any Division I head football coach. He guided the Nittany Lions to national championships in 1982 and 1986, and 24 bowl wins in 37 appearances.

His shining career has been sacked and tarnished.

Accusations haven't been directed toward Paterno since the story broke last weekend about Jerry Sandusky, who allegedly assaulted the teen-age boys on campus -- across the street from Paterno's office. Sandusky was the heir apparent to Paterno's job since he transformed the Big 10 school into "Linebacker U" before his retirement in 1999.

But Paterno's judgment, or lapse of moral responsibility, has been questioned about Sandusky's actions. When a graduate assistant informed Paterno of the alleged assault in 2002, he notified PSU athletics director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz.

Neither reported the incident to authorities.

How in your good conscience could you not report it?

Here was a minor, in care of a representative from a well-respected university, getting sexually abused. Sandusky has exalted his innocence over the charges, but that "squeaky clean image" that Paterno had projected about his program is gone forever.

Penn State is now grouped among the Miamis, Ohio States, Southern Cals and North Carolinas that have already been put under the NCAA microscope and scolded for improprieties in their respective programs.

A devout Catholic, Paterno is punishing himself and grieving for the families of the boys who have endured this nightmare of corruption. Perceived as a gentle once-in-a-lifetime leader with a knack for molding champions, JoePa has compromised his own football program's moral code.

Choking back tears, Paterno said in a statement during his press conference that he was "absolutely devastated" by the sex abuse case.

"This is a tragedy," Paterno said. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

Too late, JoePa.