HOLLIDAYSBURG - Mike Johnston of Hollidaysburg is confused.
What retired Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky did to children was "absolutely terrible," he said Monday. But then the NCAA comes along and punishes the university, its athletes, its students, its fans and supporters for as he put it, "the terrible crimes a few people have done."
"I don't understand why they are out for blood," Johnston said.
The unprecedented NCAA sanctions will cost Penn State $60 million and take away scholarships, possible bowl games and victories.
The university is also on NCAA probation for five years. It will be required to pay for an independent monitor who will oversee the university's compliance with the recommendations from the Freeh report, the university's paid-for investigation into the actions of the leaders in charge of the university during the time Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing young boys.
The Big Ten added its own sanction of not allowing Penn State to receive its share of conference bowl money for the next four years.
Yet Joe Paterno - the coach who did so much for his university, who stressed education and who until a few months ago was loved by most - is being scathingly criticized for allegedly covering up Sandusky's most vile acts toward young people, Johnston pointed out.
"I really feel bad about it," he said.
People had mixed emotions when asked about the actions of the university and the NCAA over the last two days when Paterno's statue had been taken down and the legendary - and now infamous - coach had 112 victories lopped from his record.
Dan Coble, a construction worker, was a bit cynical about what was happening to Paterno especially.
The university tore down his statue, and he wondered if it was going to tear down the library Paterno's money helped build (it is not).
And all those victories they took away? The players, "sweated. They earned it," Coble said.
Coble said the statue should be returned to the Paterno family and suggested the $4 million the Paterno family donated to the library also be returned.
If Paterno were alive, "He'd be fighting like crazy to the end," Coble said.
But that's the point, Paterno isn't alive and can't defend himself, he said.
Lena Chura of Altoona was shocked to hear about the NCAA sanctions.
"I think it's wrong," Chura said. "The man stood for a lot more than they gave him credit for."
Paterno should have taken more action to stop Sandusky, Chura said, but trampling on the late coach's reputation instead of focusing on Sandusky and his victims is misguided. Tearing down the statue of Paterno will not help the victims, she said.
"I don't think that's right at all," Chura said.
Jeff Strasser of Hollidaysburg was critical of Penn State, Paterno and what he called "the idolization of athletics."
Put yourself in the place of a 9-year-old child in the shower with Jerry Sandusky, a rather large former football player. Just picture yourself in that situation and the fear that ensued, Strasser suggested.
Joe Paterno was the most powerful person in the state of Pennsylvania, Strasser said.
"People like Joe Paterno think they are above the law," he said.
Quoting from the Apostle Paul, Strasser said, "For the love of money is the root of all evil. That's all Penn State was about."
Paterno "covered up the most evil that could be covered up. You can't turn a man into God. ... No more idolization in athletics," he said.
Longtime Penn State fan and former school superintendent and coach Tony Labriola of Altoona said he believes the sanctions were unfair.
He said Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi once said fans don't root for the players, they root for the uniforms. But Labriola said he disagrees with that. He said he roots not for the team, but for the players on the team.
"Today the NCAA took actions that were leveled at uniforms and an institution with a complete disregard of what was best for kids," he said. "And, so, the actions of Jerry Sandusky continue to add additional victims."
Labriola said he understands that the penalties were imposed because of a lack of institutional leadership by a prior administration, but he said he is "embarrassed by the lack of institutional leadership in the current administration that opened the door for all that has transpired since November 2011."
Laura Horne is a 15-year-old Penn State fan who goes to all the games.
She opposed taking down the statue.
"He earned that statue," Laura said.
As for the restriction on bowl games, "That's not fair to the players who earned the right to go to a bowl game," she said.
Laura said she likes watching football but fears going to a game will be different in the future.
"There will be a lot of fans talking about the whole scandal. It won't be the same as it was," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468. Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger contributed to this story.