BELLEFONTE - Over the past three-plus months, since his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, Jerry Sandusky would find himself dreaming of the extreme highs and lows of his 68-year-old life.
He would do this in the small confines of his private cell at the Centre County Correctional Facility, only a couple of miles from the Centre County Courthouse where, aside from his family, the world probably saw him for the final time Tuesday morning.
Between the few things he's permitted - eating, reading, meditating, writing and exercising - the former Penn State football assistant coach and defensive coordinator once considered to be a Hall of Fame humanitarian for his charity work, closes his eyes.
As he dozes off, he sees people who have stood by him.
He remembers teaching and coaching. He remembers the glory of locker-room victory celebrations and the low moments brought by the sorrow of defeat.
"I've been blessed," he told Judge John M. Cleland Jr. on Tuesday. "I've been to the mountaintop, and I've seen the shadow of death."
He hears the cheers and the jeers.
He sees himself making photo albums and throwing "hundreds of kids in the air." He envisions water-balloon battles and backyard football games.
He dreams about family outings with his wife, Dottie, and their six adopted children, and it dawns on him that his 46th anniversary is coming. He leans over to hug Dottie and, he said, "I hit my head against the cinder block wall."
It reminds him where he is - "symbolic," he said - and after Tuesday's sentence of a minimum of 30 years in a state prison, where he will very likely spend the rest of his days.
How much time he has left is anyone's guess.
Arriving in a red-orange jumpsuit with the words "Centre County" on the back, Sandusky appears to have dropped a minimum of 30 pounds since he was arrested in November. He is pale and wrinkled, his voice weakened.
Sandusky's victims deserve tremendous credit for their role in taking a sexually violent predator - a classification even Sandusky did not contest Tuesday morning - off the streets forever.
Though he said Tuesday he was "emotional and determined," Sandusky showed no remorse, and his ill-fated defense led by Joe Amendola, a virtual talk-show host, included a regurgitation of a Monday interview Sandusky did with Penn State's Com-Radio proclaiming his innocence.
In his warped mind, even though he ended up naked with and violating many of the children he was mentoring over decades, he thinks he did nothing wrong.
The prosecution, and Cleland, rolled their eyes.
"Unbelievable," Cleland called it.
"He whines of his own pain," lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said, adding he hopes Sandusky's name "vanishes like the wind."
If it were only that simple.
Closure to this chapter will be helpful, but the image of one of the most prominent figures in Penn State history - convicted and now sentenced - and staring blankly in the back of a sheriff's vehicle will, unfortunately, be as etched into our minds as any of the Nittany Lions' greatest moments.
For that, to varying degrees, so many have been violated beyond the victims.
The fallout will now shift to everything the university, its high-ranking officials and others did wrong in a collective failure to stop Sandusky before hitting its own head on a cinder block.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com.