Sunday, July 22, 2012

At Penn State, darker days ahead

On Sunday, the most symbolic act of the post-Joe Paterno era at Penn State took place when the statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium was taken down by workers and relocated in storage somewhere inside the stadium -- a slightly different scenario than the above cartoon, published in the Columbus Dispatch.

Better they should box it up in a plain pine package and ship it to the warehouse at the end of the last Indiana Jones movie, where it can gather dust next to the Ark of the Covenant.

The Paterno apologists and zealots notwithstanding -- and there are still lots of them out there -- will probably scream about this or hold candlelight vigils, but the sensible and sensitive among us all agree this is something that had to happen, as the Penn State community is still trying to wrap its collective head around the alleged unspeakable and horrific acts by the doomed-to-die-in-prison Jerry Sandusky, and what the Freeh Report found to be a massive coverup by Paterno and the school's administration, which took place under the guise of protecting the program from negative publicity.

It's ironic that if Paterno and Penn State officials had acted as they should have (the first rules of crisis management, after all, are to be transparent, admit there's a problem, apologize for it, address it, and make sure it never happens again), There probably would be statues of Paterno all over the country, and not just in State College, Pa.

And because Paterno and his cronies went so far to hide the deep, dark, disgusting truth, it will get much, much darker at Penn State before the sun comes up and the birds begin to sing again. According to a report Sunday on, the NCAA will announce "corrective and punitive measures" against the Nittany Lions program Monday morning. The report said the punishment is expected to include "significant loss of scholarships and loss of multiple bowls."

The report said Penn State is not expected to be handed the NCAA "death penalty" that would have completely suspended the program for a year, but punishment is expected to be so severe, the "death penalty" actually would be a preferred option.

The big picture, of course, is much bigger than all of this. Tearing down statues and crippling a major college football program will not erase the pain and suffering of Sandusky's victims, nor will they immediately put Penn State and its community in a better place. But it's a step, albeit a small one.

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