Nurse the Hate: Hate Penn State
If you would have told me two years ago that both Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno would be out as head coaches, I would not have believed you. Tressel I could maybe buy, as that guy was clearly as clean as a greasy used car dealer with a coke habit. You knew that something crooked was gonna stick to him as he looked incredulously at the cameras in his sweater vest. But Paterno? I would have assumed that if he wasn't coaching, he must have collapsed and melted into the earth, then cast upwards towards the heavens like a Greek Myth. This is the craziest sports story since Tiger Woods.
A guy like Paterno could get through almost any scandal. At Penn State, he isn't so much as a "beloved character" as he is some sort of deity. He is Penn State, a giant educational factory that rakes in a kazillion dollars in tuition as they sell another kazillion dollars of merchandise at Dick's Sporting Goods. By the way, how would you like to be the district manager of Dick's Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh, sitting on 14 tons of Penn State gear you bought for the holiday sales. Good luck getting rid of that. You'll see Penn State shirts showing up on Haitian refugees in about 90 days. Watch CNN closely. "Honey, look! That little crying woman covered with flies loves PSU. WE ARE! PENN STATE!"
But even Paterno couldn't weather a storm like this one. I think a good PR firm could have gotten him past almost anything, including but not limited to:
A) Photos surface of Joe in full Nazi regalia complete with a painted on Hitler mustache. In a prepared statement, the coach refers to the old pictures as "from another time" and the mustache as "a Chaplin, not a Hitler". At the ensuing press conference, Joe notes he "regrets the incident" and also that season ticket packages are on sale.
B) Larry Flynt announces he will be publishing a full photo spread of Paterno in a leather corset while being spanked by a group of Korean transsexuals dressed as Wizard of Oz characters. Paterno first struggles to recall if the incident in question ever occurred, then explaining it as "a time of experimentation when I was a young man in my seventies". At the ensuing press conference, Joe notes he "regrets the incident" and also that season ticket packages are on sale.
C) A massive dog fighting ring is uncovered at Paterno's modest ranch house in State College. Dog corpses are stacked like cord wood by the mailbox on garbage day. Paterno and his spokespeople claim that "dog fighting is in the culture of the Brooklyn born man". At the ensuing press conference, Joe notes he "regrets the incident" and also that season ticket packages are on sale.
Paterno will be forever stained by this, and that's awful. He's a man in his mid eighties that really appears to have tried to do the right thing most of the time in the seedy world of his occupation. Most pimps wouldn't take a job in big time college football as the landscape is just too morally corrupt. But wow, did he blow it on this one. If you hear that someone in the inner circle of Penn State Football has been fucking ten year olds in the ass in the shower, I think you may have to do more than mention it to your higher up. My understanding is that a graduate assistant walked in on Jerry Sandusky having anal sex with a ten year old boy in the Penn State lockeroom shower. The next day, he went to Paterno with the information. Can you imagine what that conversation would have been like for that graduate assistant when he told Joe that he saw his buddy of 40+ years having anal intercourse with a ten year old. "Umm, Mr. Paterno? Mr. Paterno? Hi... Um... Yeah, you probably don't know me, but um... Yeah, ah... Well, I was here at the locker room last night and I think, I mean, I could be wrong, but Um... I think I saw Mr. Sandusky... um... Well, I'm pretty sure I saw Mr. Sandusky... Ahh....". Meanwhile Paterno is staring at you with his giant glasses.
Have you ever tried to clearly explain something to someone in their mid-eighties? I listened to a guy I know spend 25 minutes explaining to his ninety year old mother that her clock radio was running five minutes ahead, and his wife was indeed qualified to make the necessary adjustments to get her back on the correct time. Try explaining to a guy in his eighties that whole Jerry Sandusky situation. I think you would probably stay away from phrases like "fucking some kid in the ass" and instead go into more ambiguous choices like "inappropriately touching" or "fondling". You have to wonder what kind of language they used with Joe to make him understand what a couple of janitors and the grad assistant witnessed. For instance, when I hear a word like "fondle", I'm not positive I know what that means. It sounds like something associated with kittens and lambs, doesn't it? It's like a laundry detergent word. "New Tide Pure, now with extra Fondle!" That's a word that sort of pussyfoots around the issue, isn't it?
Here's two sentences. Which one captures the depth of wrongdoing? 1) Jerry Sandusky was seen by a janitor fondling an 11 year old boy. 2) Jerry Sandusky was seen by a janitor blowing an 11 year old boy in the shower. I think we can all agree #2 is more accurate and a little more powerful. Either way you decide to go about it, I would think it would get any one's attention though. You would probably make it some sort of priority to address this scene when the reality sunk in. Certainly beyond mentioning it to someone else in the chain of command and then getting back to scheming on how to beat the Iowa zone blitz. "Hey Bob, Jerry was fucking some kid in the shower last night. You wanna look into that? I gotta go break down some game film. Later!"
So what have we learned after this whole sordid incident? 1) Joe Paterno was either an old man that maybe didn't understand the depth of what was going on, or a little too focused on keeping the football program in a positive light. 2) If you see a grown man spending an inordinate amount of time with young boys, words like "fondling" are going to get thrown around in the future. 3) If you are on a budget this winter, there will be plenty of great opportunities to buy heavily discounted Penn State sweatshirts.