08/01/12 — Stevens: Loyalty, trust, honor, respect are missing in coaching ranks

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Stevens: Loyalty, trust, honor, respect are missing in coaching ranks

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 1, 2012 1:49 PM

Loyalty, trust, honor and respect are just a few of the characteristics former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno worked to instill into his players for more than six decades as a member of the Nittany Lions' coaching staff.

Paterno's image was undeniably diminished in November of 2011 when he was fired as a result of a child sex-abuse scandal involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The former face of Penn State football, Paterno failed to live out the traits of trust and honor he had preached to his players for years. He chose to cover up the heinous acts of a pedophile rather than speak up in the defense of innocent children.

As the court of public opinion continues to debate Paterno's ultimate legacy, many of his fellow coaching brethren are betraying many of the same characteristics Paterno worked tirelessly to portray to his players.

During its recent announcement of its sanctions against Penn State, the NCAA approved any Nittany Lions player's decision to transfer to another school and granted permission for those players to play immediately.

The vultures did not waste a second.

Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin has courted Penn State running back Silas Redd like a chess club member frantically searching for a prom date. Redd, a junior who rushed for 1,241 yards last season, met with Kiffin for three hours last week and visited USC's campus on Monday. On Tuesday, Redd announced his intentions to transfer to USC.

USC is currently under NCAA sanctions as well, and when asked about Penn State's situation last week, Kiffin was quoted as saying he "feels for Penn State's staff, especially their head coach. He apparently just doesn't feel for them enough to not try to relentlessly lure their starting tailback away from Happy Valley.

The poaching was not isolated to the West Coast as Penn State's Big Ten rival Illinois sent members of its coaching staff to State College, Pa., last week in hopes of recruiting Penn State players to join the Fighting Illini.

In no way am I placing the recruitment of another school's players on the same level with failing to report sexual abuse against children. However, the hypocrisy behind both actions rings just as loud.

Coaching, like many professions, is a fraternity. Coaches establish friendships with one another that extend beyond white lines, scoreboards and the confines of stadiums. With those friendships comes trust, respect and hopefully loyalty.

When those friendships are jeopardized at the cost of recruiting young men who simply become pawns in a game driven by results, those at fault run the risk of throwing away their own legacies the same way Paterno did.

With coaching comes responsibility and it is tied to more than results on the field. There is an expectation to ingrain certain values into players, to teach responsibility and to send them out better than they were when you got them.

If Joe Paterno were here today, I believe he would tell us, fair or not, our society often remembers the worst a man did much more than his best.