Joe Paterno (finally) Dies

I have a feeling as to why Joe Paterno stayed as coach as long as he did – once he realized that Sullivan was unable to properly take over as coach once he retired (due to Sullivan having an undying desire to rape young boys) he realized he was stuck with coaching until he died. He probably justified it to himself by believing that after he died no one would care that a now-former underling was shooting things up where they shouldn’t have been shot.

In short, Paterno believed that his death would make things all right…but in the meantime there’s nobody left to take over the reins, so he’d better make sure things “go right” and hold down the fort until he died.

And the old coot nearly succeeded. Had they waited four-six months longer to out the news, Joe Paterno would be dead and everyone would probably have downplayed Sullivan and his actions.

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So here’s the problem: We know that the Penn State program housed, nurtured and protected a man whose main goal in life seemed to be the f*cking of young boys. A man who had had many chances to be flushed out by the leadership, yet was kept within…and even when he was forced to retire he was allowed free access to all the facilities.

We also know that the guy coached at Penn State since 1966, who was able to guide the team to bowl after bowl and brought them into the Big Ten when the time had come to become part of a conference. In short, a man who coached for as long as many of us can remember (I was born a year and a half before he coached his first game, and he had been there for a long time before then).

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Of course, whether the Penn State Football program would have been where it is now without Paterno is another question.

Looking over the list of football coaches and their records, the thing that comes to my mind is that any good coach could have come here and done well. There’s only three coaches with less than .500 records, and they constitute a grand total of 4 1/4 seasons out of 125. Even many of the one-year coaches had records of over .500. Even their first five years WHEN THEY DIDN’T HAVE A COACH was over .500. They could be considered to have spent the whole of the last century at over .500, and while there were probably a couple of seasons spent under .500 it’s obvious that those years were covered over with the coaches.

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I can’t help but wonder when Paterno knew what was going on with Sullivan. The guy had sort of become the laughing stock of the Football world, and whatever success he had had since joining the Big Ten could easily be put on the shoulders of his assistant coaches.

In the end, I’m sure there will be some rewriting of history going on. After all, Penn State has to deal with forty-five plus years of a single coach whose record rises above everyone else at PSU (at .749, he ranks higher percentage-wise over all but one coach, and that guy only coached five years) AND who allowed probably the worst crimes to happen on campus with his acceptance. It’s one hell of a whip-saw, one that those of us who stand outside the distortion-field of living within the Penn-State fandom need to be aware of as they work their way through the issues.

After all, you can’t just dismiss forty-five plus years into the black hole of illusion. Even if there’s been criminal activity embedded into it. It happened, after all, and only the NCAA thinks that they can sweep stuff under the rug.

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