"When we stood at childhood's gate, shapeless in the hands of fate, thou didst mold us, dear old State, dear old State, dear old State . . ."
I was reminded of these poignant words from the Penn State alma mater recently, as my wife and I had the somewhat surreal experience of accompanying our 17-year-old daughter for a day-long college tour of Penn State.
It was over 30 years ago that we first stepped foot onto that same campus as impressionable college freshmen, both of us not only expecting to obtain a quality education but also hoping to spread our wings and begin to discover the paths that our personal and professional lives would eventually follow.
When we were dropped off at the HUB for the first part of our tour, I felt like I had been transported back in time. As we stepped off of the bus, we were greeted by the Nittany Lion mascot and hundreds of enthusiastic alumni volunteers, Penn State ambassadors and current students, all of whom could not have emoted a stronger sense of pride and passion for their university.
As we walked around campus and down College Avenue, I felt like a student again, and it did not take long to rediscover that special feeling of pride that attaches to being a PSU graduate.
The presentations given throughout the day only reinforced my beliefs: some of the highest national rankings for engineering, science, business, and teaching, one of the largest alumni networks in the country, the largest scientific research facility between the Mississippi River and Philadelphia, one of the most sought after universities for employment recruiters nationally, millions of dollars donated annually to hospitals and research facilities by the university and student organizations.
Oh yeah - and not one single mention of football the entire day.
"May no act of ours bring shame, to one heart that loves thy name, may our lives but swell thy fame, dear old State, dear old State."
I have lived the better part of my adult life in Pittsburgh, and have had to endure several months of ridicule and predictions about how Penn State has been ruined by the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and by the recently imposed NCAA sanctions.
The critics and naysayers just don't get it and most likely never will. It is also why the nation will collectively shake its head in disbelief as 107,000 strong migrate to Happy Valley on Sept. 1 for PSU's first home game.
Penn State fans will show up in full voice for that first game, not because of some misguided deification of Joe Paterno (OK, there are some out there), or because we are turning a blind eye towards a convicted pedophile.
In my opinion, most will attend the game because of their unabashed loyalty and pride for a first-class educational institution, and what that institution means to central Pennsylvania in general.
To shamelessly borrow from former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano, the NCAA can take away our bowl games and our scholarships, but it cannot touch our minds, it cannot touch our hearts, and it cannot touch our souls.
In other words, just as Joe Paterno and the football program did not define me as a person during my four years as a student at Penn State and the 27 years that have followed, I refuse to allow the Jerry Sandusky scandal (or Paterno's involvement therein) to define my remaining years as a proud alumnus of my university.
I have always been, and shall forever be, Penn State proud.
Paterno made scapegoat
Scapegoat: noun 1. a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.
I looked this word up in the dictionary to see if Joe Paterno's picture was listed. I just finished reading the Freeh report and have to wonder if those who are vilifying the man have even read the report at all.
The only thing in the whole report that possibly indicates Joe was involved in the cover-up is the email from Tim Curley dated Feb. 27, 2001 in which he says he has talked the Sandusky incident over with Joe. He then proposes not going to the board, reporting to the Department of Welfare and telling Sandusky to avoid bringing children alone into the Lasch Building as previously planned.
Nowhere in this email does Curley say that his conversation with Joe, if there even was one, concerned backing off on the plan.
We only have Curley's word that he even talked to Joe at all, no other evidence. In light of the fact that Curley is facing trial on perjury charges already, just how credible is his word?
What's even more troubling about this email is that it didn't come to light until more than 10 years later after Joe was dead, therefore making sure he couldn't refute the allegation that Curley had talked to him and the inference that he asked Curley to back off.
The report says that it was the next day after Mike McQueary reported the shower incident to Joe that Joe reported it to Curley and Gary Schultz.
Schultz was the top man in the chain of command of the university police force. How can anybody say Joe didn't go to the authorities? And to those who think going to the university police wasn't the same as contacting the "real police," I would recommend they read the description of the university police force found on page 34 of the Freeh report.
Joe testified before the Grand Jury that he knew nothing about the 1998 incident, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Since the DA decided there wasn't enough evidence of a crime to bring charges in that incident, how can Joe be held responsible for it in any way?
On page 65 of the report, it details the janitorial staff's failure to report the abuse seen by two of their employees. They claim they didn't report it because Joe had so much power and he would fire them. This is pure speculation. There is no way they could predict Joe's reaction if they had reported it.
The whole blame it all on Joe thing started with the board's firing of Paterno. The first paragraph on page 95 pretty much sums up the real reason he was fired. The board was disturbed by "Paterno's attempt to usurp the board's role by discussing his retirement plans for the end of the season and holding his own press conference."
They felt he'd stepped on their toes.
It's a shame that a man who lived his life by a standard most of us couldn't match up to has been dragged through the mud like this. And with not one shred of proof of any wrongdoing. In this case it's obviously guilty until proven innocent, and it's going to be real hard for a dead guy to prove anything.
Why punish the future?
I agree with most of what is being said, but I believe that if Bill O'Brien can hold the core group together without the media pushing the recruits to other schools, PSU will be a good team.
He'll get players that actually want to play ball instead of individuals that are only concerned about what the school will offer themselves.
Punishing the new staff and players is the only thing I don't agree with.
Someone really needs to explain the justification of punishing the future. Nobody involved had anything whatsoever to do with the pervert that's now in jail.
Joe's dead, and the rest of the administration is gone, although I still think there are a few more higher ranking public officials that need to be exposed.
I'm still a PSU fan in all sports, and I will be rooting for them on Saturdays without any negative feeling whatsoever. It will be fun to see them knock off Big Ten teams with their backs against the wall.
They might not win the title because they aren't allowed to, but people are smart enough to know who beat who throughout the season.
PSU will become giant killers so to speak with really nothing to lose.