We are…Clueless – A response to an “An Open Letter to the World from a Penn State Alum”


Ugh, you just don’t get it.

Even in the wake of the most horrifying scandal in the history of college football you’re missing the big picture.

Let’s start with the most important part of this – the victims. Anyone and everyone in their right mind knows what allegedly took place by Jerry Sandusky and the truly inept follow-through by the administration in this whole ordeal was (and still is) awful. Use whatever adjective you like: appalling, horrific, distressing – there is no shortage. Media types everywhere are trying to one-up each other on how truly outraged one can sound over it. And they’re right – it’s all of those words and more – and each one of those victims and their families deserve nothing but our utmost support, our prayers and, yes, justice – however it may come.

What the victims deserved was to not be victims in the first place. If someone had stepped in years ago, the number of victims would be far less.

We feel the same way as you all do – we feel sick when we think of the actions. We cringe when we read the Grand Jury Report. Our anger probably goes a lot deeper than yours, to be honest, and I’ll explain why in a minute.

No, not all Penn State students and alumni feel like you do, as evidenced by the miscreants who tipped the news truck, threw rocks, and demanded that JoPa be  returned to his job. Not to mention the proud fans who physically and verbally assaulted this Penn State alum who protested outside of Beaver Stadium.

 Let’s also not forget this – this is not about football. We are not just trying to “protect a football coach”. When people criticize us for calling it a sad day because Paterno was fired, we don’t mean because we’re going to miss his fantastic football strategies. We’re going to miss the man who did so much good for the university and, ultimately, for us – because Penn State doesn’t become Penn State without him. It’s also a sad day because his firing serves as just another reminder of how awful this situation is and how much of a widespread impact Sandusky’s alleged actions have (and, for the record, even having to type “alleged” is annoying regarding Sandusky).

What’s sad is that Paterno sat idle for nearly a decade allowing a predator to have access to the Penn State football program. Sandusky used these perks to lure his alleged victims in and used the locker room as a den for his activities.

Paterno’s legacy is, and will forever be, tarnished. But we, as a Penn State family, can’t simply toss aside all of the amazing things he did. He donated millions, was a fierce advocate for putting academics on the same level as, if not higher than, athletics (in times when few other programs ever did) and was a man many saw as a role model – and sought to be a better person because of him.

Yes, his departure was inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be sad that the man’s most disappointing inaction will now take him and all of his amazing efforts. No, we won’t rename the library he almost single-handedly funded. No, we won’t act like he didn’t stand for something amazing all those years to us, because it did lead us to be better people, regardless of how the story ended.

Here’s a legacy for you- Paterno standing idly by while Sandusky ushered young boys into the showers of the Penn State football building for another round of “horseplay”. While he was doing everything else you mentioned, he never gave a second thought to the possibility that his former assistant coach was a monster. The library is a small consolation to the lives allegedly ruined by Sandusky.

And no, we won’t stand by like he should be free of a guilty conscience. But this is where the media and everyone has lost sight of the big picture – and why our anger and disappointment may even be more than yours. This goes even bigger than Paterno. While the crosshairs seem to have been affixed to him, others have gone ignored. Graham Spanier, former president, was allowed to resign. Gary Schultz was allowed to step down back into retirement. Athletic director Time Curley has been allowed a leave and is still on the payroll (while the university pays his legal fees!). And, by all accounts, wide receivers coach Mike McQueary – the grad assistant who witnessed the most notorious of the incidents in the Grand Jury report – will be coaching on Saturday. None of these men deserve more than to have the same “fired” title next to each of their names. Semantics? Maybe, but how can you allow anything else to happen?

See that’s where you’re wrong. We want them all gone and probably many more once the full extent of the cover-up is exposed. And while we’re on the subject of McQueary, who kept him in the Penn State football program all the while knowing he was keeping his silence? That would be JoPa.

Our anger goes to the point of wondering how these men (and, for all we know until the facts come out, maybe others) have been able to slink off to the side while Paterno’s name is the only one truly being stamped on. They have all sullied the PSU name in their own way and yet, often, when listening to a broadcast, you won’t hear any of these names until 20, 30 minutes in. And don’t hold your breath waiting for Sandusky’s name, either.

We’re not pissed at the university president, the athletic director, or some low level assistant coach. We don’t expect courage from politicians, mid-level bureaucrats, or underlings.

But we expect more from Joe “Success with Honor” Paterno. We can debate  exactly what he could have done differently, but let’s agree that he should have done more than he did. And that’s the major disappointment.

The JoPa of myth would have grabbed Sandusky by the collar and kicked his ass out of the football building, then called the police. He would have sat down next to McQueary as he told the police what he witnessed.

The real JoPa hid behind explanations of how he had done everything required by law in the matter.

While Sandusky kept preying on little boys.