Hours after Joe Paterno announced that he would retire at the end of the season, Penn State officials fired the legendary coach. The move is effective immediately.
This scandal has been one of the ugliest things college athletics have ever seen and Paterno has taken over the role as its poster boy. A disheveled former PSU coach stood on his front lawn alongside his wife Wednesday evening, as students once again demonstrated support on the Paterno estate front lawn.
After 46 years as a head coach, Paterno was released from his duties on Wednesday night after the board of trustees from Penn State decided to clean house. Penn State also fired PSU president Graham Spanier. Tom Bradley will take over as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
There were too many experts, including myself, who were calling for Paterno’s term to be cut short after his announced retirement early Wednesday. I didn’t see a way that Penn State could let the head coach dictate his own terms, of when he was going to retire, amidst this insane scandal. Therefore, after much deliberation and determination, the board of trustees decided Joe Pa’s fate.
This is such a sad development over the past week or so, but it was the right move by the school. Penn State supporters have showered the head coach with love, but make no mistake about it, Paterno was not innocent throughout this indictment. In fact, he was the face of Penn State University before everything seemed to crumble in front of Paterno’s eyes in the last few days. Many were wondering how we had held onto his job in office this long…
John P. Surma is the vice chairman of the board of trustees, announced the decision to fire Paterno was unanimous at their Wednesday night meeting.
“The university is much larger than its athletic teams,” said Surma.
The press conference was marked by numerous angry and accusatory questions, many of which Surma chose to ignore.
After breaking down for most of the night, most people saw Joe Paterno in a capacity they had never witnessed before. The 84-year old head coach steps down after passing Grambling’s Eddie Robinson as the all-time winningest college football coach in history. His legacy will be forever tarnished with the recent scandal.
Paterno had this to say on Wednesday evening about the board’s decision:
“I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees decision, but I have to accept it. A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, it’s property and all that we value,” said Paterno. “I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt.”
These moves are just the first in a long line of difficult decisions for Penn State officials to make in the coming days. The decision to fire Paterno is just the tip of the iceberg. Penn State is on the precipice of cleaning house and there are a lot of guilty faces in the crowd. This is just the beginning of this ugly mess.
In much smaller terms, the No. 12 Penn State football teams returns to action on Saturday at Ohio State in Columbus. It’s fitting that PSU will play a team whose coach stepped down, Jim Tressel, prior to the season’s start due to illegal criminal activity that took place with his players and program. Now, Penn State will get an opportunity to feel the nation’s wrath. We have just begun to scratch the surface of this Penn State debacle, but heads are sure to roll in the next few days. I will keep you posted with all the latest.