College football has lost its most legendary coach today when former Penn State coach Joe Paterno died of complications from lung cancer. He was 85 years old. Very few of us sports fans could have seen Paterno’s coaching career be scared by the allegations of sexual abuse against several young men by long-time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Paterno was ostracized by fans and media for not taking further action against Sandusky when these allegations of abuse were brought to his attention. It forced the university to fire Paterno towards the end of last football season.
As I write this piece, I am not a Penn State supporter or hater. I looked at the Paterno situation as both a parent and former football coach. While it’s easy to judge Paterno, it’s difficult to know what was going through his mind during this whole saga. The allegations against Sandusky are certainly reprehensible and should have been handled with more urgency. But there’s those that will argue that Paterno did his part in the whole process by reporting the allegations to his superiors. However, he did nothing to further prevent the problem. His non-actions against Sandusky were his undoing. Crimes against children are unforgivable. I blame Paterno for not doing more to stop these supposed atrocities from happening. As far as I am concerned, this isn’t a football issue but that of humanity. I’m able to separate his coaching accomplishments from his failure as person. We’ve lost a great football mind but a human being that failed to protect our valuable children.
Paterno coached at Penn State for over five decades. His 409 wins and 37 bowl appearances are NCAA records. He also won two national championships during his tenure.
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