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The House Paterno Built

JoePa, a man who literally went to the grave trying to protect a brand.
JoePa, a man who literally went to the grave trying to protect a brand.

Sports is supposed to be a refuge from thinking. In fact, I happen to like sports because it's the antithesis of logic and thought... but god damn, college football has really been trying me lately.

I feel sorry for the 95% of Penn State fans who are nothing more than collateral damage in this enormity. Most of all, I feel sorry for the kids who were serially and systematically abused by a now-convicted pedophile. After that, I'm out of sympathy packets.

The fallout from Sandusky's crimes and its subsequent cover-up doesn't leave me boiling with rage. Rather, the Freeh Report reads like it's an excerpt from a $9.99 "novel" at Wal-Mart. So instead of rage, I almost feel the need to huff ether to expel it from my mind. I didn't think it could get any worse than the phrase "rhythmic slapping", but it turns out, it can.

*sigh* It seems like just a week ago it was all about stripper abortions and rigged raffles.

I knew the soul of college football had been corrupted long ago, but good golly, not even I thought it was this decadent. It's not like Penn State is the only place in America where this could have happened. Sure, protecting a serial child predator might be an extreme, but it's currently raining federal investigators in sleepy Missoula, Montana, because sexual assaults committed by football players were covered up by college and city officials. We'd be fools to think Jerry Sandusky was the only monster lurking in college football's kitchen cabinet.

I don't think Jerry Sandusky should face the death penalty because he's seriously (and obviously) mentally ill, but I must ask, what are the excuses for the likes of Graham Spanier, Joe Paterno, and Penn State's Board of Trustees? At best, they're as culpable as Sandusky; at worst, more.

People say this is deeper than football, that there is a $1.2 billion dollar endowment to protect, like an adjunct professor could have gotten away with this. This was a culture where janitors, one a Korean War vet, witnessed Sandusky molesting a child and didn't tell anybody because they feared Joe Paterno, as if Joe Paterno could cost them their jobs or worse.

Joe Paterno's son said his father went to the grave with a clear conscience. After all of this, I might believe it. Maybe Joe Paterno repeated the lies so many times in his head, he came to believe it. I guess the fact your lifelong assistant was taking advantage of innocent boys downstairs from your corner office would be a tough pill to swallow. Maybe that's why Joe Paterno went tits up as soon as his footbaww was pried from his cold, dead hands.

I'm not sure who the proper body is to bring the hammer down on Penn State, but if the NCAA just sits on its thumbs, it will be as pathetic as the BIg Ten Network airing the 2011 Ohio State-Purdue game instead of covering the Freeh Report as it broke yesterday. If the 13 year, systematic cover-up of serial child molestation isn't enough to trigger an NCAA violation, then that might be the the biggest indictment of its stupid rulebook yet.

Jim Tressel sent like three e-mails and "lied" about some discounted tattoos. He lost his job and Ohio State caught a bowl ban, so the NCAA can appear it actually investigates things while hiding the real decay. Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller had nothing to do with "Tattoo-gate", yet it's their blood which is paying the debt to the NCAA.

On October 27th, 2011, Penn State received word about Sandusky's impending indictment. On October 29th, Jerry Sandusky attended Penn State's game in the Nittany Lion Club.

Four months later, 300 Penn State alumni met in New York City in order to figure out something called "brand leadership." At this meeting of "brand leadership", the media was asked to remember their "observer status."

You see, as a public university, I guess Penn State still didn't feel the need to answer outsiders' questions. That attitude remained a microcosm yesterday, when Penn State's student union changed the channel of its televisions to avoid the student body's exposure to the Freeh Group's findings about their Dear Leader.

Why should Penn State get to keep its football team? I realize this goes deeper than football, but doesn't that mean football should be the first one on the chopping block? Joe Paterno built Penn State football, as evidenced by Penn State post-humulously offering to rename Beaver Stadium to "Paterno Stadium" as part of their blood-money package to Paterno's family. If his statue can't stand, why should Beaver Stadium?

The leaders of Penn State allowed their program to basically be used as a lollipop to lure at-risk boys into a child molester's den. For thirteen years, they allowed this to happen without saying anything. For thirteen years, they allowed Sandusky to associate with them and use their facilities as a platform for inhuman evil. (And that's only to the depths which can be proven.)

Why should the victims of this abuse be subjugated to a lifetime of having to watch Penn State football? Why should students and academics have to pay the price, as if this was done to protect a biology class? For decades, Joe Paterno wanted to dole out discipline in-house, the house that Joe Paterno built, Penn State football. Penn State, the college, may be too big too fail, but I hope Penn State football isn't.

If it is, then really, what has changed in all of this? Is this something that can be swept under the rug with a simple regime change, as if Joe Paterno merely covered up discounted tattoos?

The blood letting has to start somewhere for Penn State, the institution... otherwise Graham Spanier and Paterno's wretched work will have been somewhat of a success. There is plenty of blame to go around, and the scragglers (Hello, Mike McCreary) can be picked off by the legal system once Penn State football is abolished.

It could have happened at a lot of places, but it happened at Penn State. Nittany Lions leaders almost literally sold their souls to protect the institution, so the institution has a debt to society too.

There are yet heads to roll, but this much is clear in my mind: there is no way in hell Penn State should play an NCAA-sanctioned football game this fall. Otherwise, I think it's a trade Joe Paterno would have made a thousand times over; it's one he went to the grave willing to make, after all.