(This column was written two days ago for my Georgia newspaper syndicate—BEFORE Joe Paterno was fired. It is one of the saddest moments in college football history, one in which allowed his loyalty to a miscreant former assistant coaches to bring him down. It might be titled “Disgrace With Dishonor” —FB)
In the Penn State University campus directory, Jerry Sandusky is listed as “Assistant Professor Emeritus of Physical Education.” He has had an office in East Area Locker building, has had access to the weight room and was seen working out as recently as last week. He has had a parking pass and other amenities as part of the retirement package bestowed upon him in 1999.
For most of the past 37 years, beginning in 1963, when he arrived at State College as a defensive end, Jerry Sandusky has been “a Penn State man.” He was a three-letterman and later served for many seasons as “one of the great defensive coaches of all time,” in the words of Lou Holtz. Until, after the 1999 season, Jerry Sandusky retired.
But did he retire? Or did he exit with grace and with all the above emoluments as listed? Or was he fired, and for what reason? If he was, it must have been one of the smoothest firings of all time, considering all the privileges that were granted him. As recently as last week, he was seen working out in the weight room. What a way to get “fired.”
Not a lot changed in Jerry Sandusky’s life at Penn State after his “departure”—a misnomer, for obviously, he never departed. There was an indication of some displeasure with his presence in 2002, when he was moved away from the Penn State campus. He simply renamed his facility “Sandusky Associates” and continued operation at another university campus outside Erie.
It was in 2002 when one of Joe Paterno’s obscure assistants alleged witnessed Sandusky having a “relationship” in a shower with a small boy. The assistant reported it to Paterno, who is said to have relayed the message to an athletics department official. Nothing came of it, apparently, but the question rears its ugly head—what was Sandusky doing in the football facility long after his dismissal?
It was a travesty that such misconduct continued without detection. Or, at least, remained unreported and acted on by some university official. Sadly, this begins to reflect more directly on Paterno as details begin to unfold. Without evidence of any direct kind, it appears that Paterno was doing his best to cover up for an old friend, in which case he shall be paying a devastating price.
Will he be actively coaching the Nittany Lions against Nebraska this weekend? I doubt it, from where I’m sitting. Will he survive the rest of the season?—Ohio State and Wisconsin are yet to be played, mercifully, on the road. I doubt it.
Will he move on, leaving the feeling “that I have made Penn State a better place, not about football?” I doubt it. Will Penn State change the name of the library from “The Joe and Sue Paterno Library”—I would say not. Will he, as he professed “spend the rest of my life doing what I can to help this university.” Beyond a doubt. No coach, at any level, has taken such a plummet from grace so swiftly.
My god, how could such have happened in the lives of two old men?