Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Long Road Back to Happy Valley

“This is more than just a program, this is more than a football legacy. This is about people and if we can’t protect our kids, we as a society are pathetic. So, that’s where I stand on it." - Matt Millen
For those of you who forgot, Matt Millen was part of the "Salt and Pepper" combination along with Bruce Clark who played defensive tackle for Penn State back in the mid-70's and those were his words earlier this week. 

Whether you were connected to the university or the football team, it was tough week to be a citizen of the Commonwealth.  I have known no other coach at PSU in my lifetime being born in February of 1966.  Joe Paterno came to Penn State in 1950 and in his life transformed the university into a national brand.  He saw Beaver Stadium grow from the stadium in pasture to the 2nd largest in the country.  All came crashing down this week.  In a place where doing what was right was the rule of the land, the Board of  Trustees made a business decision to in effort to save that image.

There are many to feel sorry for in this scandal.  To many of my friends, there faith in humanity has been shaken to the core.  PSU was part of their life where they enjoyed the triumphs and losses with their family for generations.  It has been a place that has molded their characters and careers.  Many met their future spouse as undergrads.  To many, it was opportunity.  To generations across the years, Joe Paterno's firing was like losing a brother, father or grandfather.  It has been that tough. 

There are people at the Second Mile Charity who thought they were working and fighting for something they believed in.   

All week battle lines across the state and country have been drawn in support for or against Joe Paterno. This week is just a small chapter of many in coming years about PSU and football.  Yes, I said years. (See Len Bias and SMU). 

Major college football has become a cesspool with the advent of the BCS and perpetuated by the NCAA.  Do you believe we actually use a computer and vote to see who will play for the national championship? Even though not a fan nor graduate, at the end of the day,  Penn State University and their football program was something I could hang my hat on as a citizen of Pennsylvania and still be proud.

Joe Paterno's time at PSU has ended.  The nation and world will never look upon the program the same way in long time if ever.  We need to get used to that as citizens, graduates and alumni.  The road back to that image will be long.  Hopefully, Joe will live long enough to see some luster restored to his legacy or live with the torment of not doing enough as further developments come to light.  The numbers we should be concerned about are NOT 409-136-3 or 24-12-1.  The numbers that matter right now stand at 9-9.  Nine victims and nine years of a suspected pedophile to have free reign to roam.   The truth will be waiting. We need to find it.

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