Joe Paterno dies at 85

posted at 6:25 pm on January 22, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Legendary football coach Joe Paterno died this morning in State College, Pa., at age 85, his family announced.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in November, only days after Penn State’s board of trustees fired the legendary coach in the wake of the arrest of his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, on multiple felony counts of sexual abuse of boys.

Paterno was not implicated in a grand jury’s indictment of Sandusky but was criticized for not acting more aggressively in 2002 after a graduate assistant informed Paterno he saw Sandusky sexually molest a boy in a locker room shower at Penn State. Paterno had fulfilled his legal obligation by passing the information on to his superior, athletic director Tim Curley.

Paterno’s inglorious exit shocked a community that watched him rise from a young assistant to become a national icon. His Coke-bottle eyeglasses and rolled-up pant legs came to embody the school’s victories-with-virtue persona.

The coach was so beloved in State College that full-size cardboard cutouts of him were common sights around town. Even an ice cream flavor, “Peachy Paterno,” was named after him.

In college football’s fraternity, he was known simply as “JoePa.”

It’s ironic that a man who, with his “Grand Experiment,” emphasized the importance of impeccable character and academic achievement alongside spectacular sport is destined to be eulogized with references to one of the worst scandals in college football history. In 1973, JoePa said in a commencement address that “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish.” Perhaps, in years to come, the memory of Paterno’s legendary coaching approach will overshadow the memory of the scandal that ended his career, but, for now, the revelations of the past year seem to have stripped the honor from much of his success.

Still, as Paterno also liked to say, quoting Robert Browning, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Paterno’s reach was undoubtedly great. Yet, remarkably, his grasp was nearly commensurate with it. The coach’s record-breaking 409 career victories speaks to his persistent, almost single-minded drive for excellence and his uncanny ability to capture it.

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So many people here seem to be filled with hatred for Joe Paterno, someone who was basically a good person. They seem to feel that because he only reported the incident through the proper chanels he is a far worse person than Sandusky who apparently sodomized young boys.

Apparently Sandusky was investigated by the police in 1998-as mentioned above-and they didn’t find enough evidence to charge him with anything. Yet, no one is calling for any action to be taken against them. It’s not clear that Paterno knew anything about this investigation. Why is Paterno being held to a so much higher standard? Why was he supposed to do the job of so many? Why aren’t the people who really failed being held accountable (except for the 2 guys who did get fired)?

Paterno was a football coach, not a cop or a lawyer or a social worker or an administrator or someone who worked for HR. Yet somehow, there seems to be an expectation that he should have started CSI State College sex crimes unit while in his 70′s, while coaching and teaching English. And because he did not, he is worse than a child rapist.

Paterno did report the events, he did cooperate. He did not try to cover it up. At the time, he had no way of knowing Sandusky was guilty or what he had done. Now, in retrospect, when it has become apparent that horrible things were being done, Paterno wishes he had done more. Paterno isn’t psychic. McQueary probably had a lot of trouble telling any of this to Paterno and probably wasn’t making good eye contact and the veracity of his story was likely suspect. False accusations of child abuse can ruin lives. I’m sorry so many people here think they would have done a better job than Peterno did in this situation. I think they’re wrong. I doubt I would have personally started an investigation of a private citizen rather than referring the matter to the proper authorities. If someone came to me with one complaint, I’d refer the matter to the authorities. That would be it. I’m not aware that any other complaints on this matter were ever brought to Paterno.

Given the number of perfect people commenting here, it’s really surprising any child molestation occurs in the world today. You’d think it would have been eliminated by all their heroic efforts.

talkingpoints on January 23, 2012 at 7:57 AM

Is there a soul here who would basically just leave it at that and then just go about your normal duties as president?

No, you don’t sit on the matter and just hope it all goes away.

TXUS on January 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Agreed.
I see there is at least one or more here that thinks this sort of thing is fine.
I did what I was supposed to under the ‘rules’, so we’re done.
That, of course, is complete bu!!$hit.
If I saw such a thing in one of the screwls I teach at, I am required to tell the principal.
Who is someone that never does their job, like it seems at PSU.
And even if this person were to have been someone who does their job, I’d STILL be on the phone to the POLICE about the matter.
You just do not eff around with information like that.
Stolen items in a locker room? Yeah-I see not taking silly crap like that to the police.
But this is about a CHILD being evidently, anally raped by an adult.
Who in their right mind does not make sure this gets report to the POLICE?

Badger40 on January 23, 2012 at 7:57 AM

The focus should be on how we prevent this from happening again, not demonzing college football and flogging Paterno about what he did or did not do. He’s dead now.

Dr. Tesla on January 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

I personally am not making a judgement on the man.
Bcs it’s unclear whether he’s guilty or not.
I mean IF.
Paterno’s actions should be analyzed in this trial just like all the others.
Anyone who has been proved to have had this knowledge should be prosecuted however they can.
OF course it is wrong to paint PSU & all college football with a broad brush.
But perhaps, once the trial proceeds, we might find links to other universities.
Then of course is when one looks elsewhere.

Badger40 on January 23, 2012 at 8:03 AM

Where did I say I wouldn’t report him to to the cops?

sandbagger on January 23, 2012 at 7:13 AM

^^^ Here, you didn’t say it. ^^^

DevilsPrinciple on January 23, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Some here have lost sight of the fact that Sandusky was not an employee of the school at the time the allegations came to light in 2002. He did not report to Paterno, and when Paterno was informed of the incident by the coward McQueary, he informed his supervisor. The supervisor responded tepidly, by only taking away locker room keys, barring Sandusky from bringing children to the campus, and reported the allegations to Sandusky’s charity, Second Mile.

Could Paterno have done more? Sure, in hindsight, anyone wishes they would/could/should have done more. The fact is, Paterno did what he thought was the correct action at the time. Even he regretted not doing more, but calling him a child rapist enabler is jumping the shark.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 8:24 AM

…and let’s remember, Paterno didn’t actually SEE the assault take place. All he reported was an allegation. To his boss. Like he’s supposed to do.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 8:26 AM

What if Sandusky said, I’m going to kill your family if you rat me out Paterno.

What would you have done?

Dr. Tesla on January 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM

I would have set my 1911 on the table top and told him I’m not a ten year old.

sandbagger on January 23, 2012 at 6:50 AM

^^^ And you also didn’t say it here ^^^

DevilsPrinciple on January 23, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Could Paterno have done more? Sure, in hindsight, anyone wishes they would/could/should have done more. The fact is, Paterno did what he thought was the correct action at the time. Even he regretted not doing more, but calling him a child rapist enabler is jumping the shark.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Well said.

DevilsPrinciple on January 23, 2012 at 8:32 AM

What if Sandusky said, I’m going to kill your family if you rat me out Paterno.

What would you have done?

Dr. Tesla on January 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM

I would have set my 1911 on the table top and told him I’m not a ten year old.

sandbagger on January 23, 2012 at 6:50 AM

^^^ And you also didn’t say it here ^^^

DevilsPrinciple on January 23, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Still I did not say that I would not report him to the cops.

sandbagger on January 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM

So many people here seem to be filled with hatred for Joe Paterno, someone who was basically a good person. They seem to feel that because he only reported the incident through the proper chanels he is a far worse person than Sand#sky who apparently sodomized young boys.

talkingpoints on January 23, 2012 at 7:57 AM

Unlike some other Paterno defenders here you actually seem to make an effort to address the facts which makes your contribution to the discussion actually interesting. (thanks!).

So I’d respond by asking if there is any specific quote or reference you can share which makes you think that anyone here believes Paterno is “a far worse person than Sandusky”. It’s a wildly inaccurate statement in my opinion and I’m confident that everyone who’s criticized Paterno has much stronger and harsher feelings reserved for Sand#sky.

There’s no form of punishment too harsh for Sand#sky. There’s a reason child molesters are at the very bottom of the prison pecking order and I suspect Penn State University is not the last time Sand#sky will be involved with forcible rape in the shower.

But there’s nobody here defending Sand#sky’s honor so there’s been no need for a counter argument. On the other hand there are those who continue to lionize Joe Paterno and those of us who believe his failings outweigh his contributions. That’s an argument with two sides and thus a discussion ensues. But your claim that any of us called Paterno a far worse person than Sand#sky is not based in any fact.

I and others have also acknowledged that Paterno seems to have abided by his employee handbook in reporting the incident to Curley (albeit some number of days later). The reason I believe he brought shame on himself is that he should have done more. With great power comes great responsibility and as the veritable god king of Happy Valley Paterno could have and should have done more to ensure this monster no longer had access to children. If you believe Joe Paterno whose name was rarely mentioned without the attached “legendary” couldn’t have (as just one example) gotten the Second Mile charity shut down (thus closing the spigot on Sand#sky’s flow of victims) then there’s likely no reasoning with you.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Even he [Paterno] regretted not doing more . . .

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 8:24 AM

You’re right, he did. So why are some here calling Paterno a liar by claiming he did everything he could. Even HE acknowledged that he did not do everything he could. It’s just that some of us hold him responsible for his failure while others don’t.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 9:23 AM

And yes, I’m “hate filled”. I absolutely hate people who don’t do everything they can to stop known child rapists.
SoRight on January 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

What have you accomplished with everything you can do to stop child rapists?

Wade on January 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Okay, as one who has not followed college football since the Ford Administration let me see if I can summarize the facts as they are known to me. If corrections need to be made then I trust my fellow posters to make them.

1. Assistant (~30 years old) observes another coach molesting or raping a young boy in the showers of the Penn State football locker room. Assistant does not intervene or call 911.

2. Next day Assistant informs Head Coach Paterno about the incident. Paterno contacts his boss. Paterno does not call 911 or confront coach involved.

3. Nothing more is done by Assistant or Paterno for years.

Both the Assistant and Paterno and Paterno’s bosses are f’ing cowards and deserve to rot in the bowels of Hell. A child, and from what I understand at least a dozen more, were sodomized and scared for life because supposedly good men stood by and did nothing!

As I have stated on previous threads on this topic: The entire football complex and stadium at Penn State need to be burned to the ground and college football not played there for a century. Also, any depiction of Paterno and those above him at the time need to be removed and buildings named after them need to be renamed.

As for the perp: a lifetime showering with the boys on D block at Graterford and being G block’s b*tch.

Bubba Redneck on January 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM

You’re right, he did. So why are some here calling Paterno a liar by claiming he did everything he could. Even HE acknowledged that he did not do everything he could. It’s just that some of us hold him responsible for his failure while others don’t.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Nice of you to take my quote out of context to suit your needs. Here’s the entire quote, just in case you have ADD:

Could Paterno have done more? Sure, in hindsight, anyone wishes they would/could/should have done more. The fact is, Paterno did what he thought was the correct action at the time. Even he regretted not doing more, but calling him a child rapist enabler is jumping the shark.

It’s really frakking easy to criticize someone in hindsight, and it makes you look as foolish as Marky Mark did when he spouted off about how he would have taken on the hijackers on 9/11. Again we have to note:

1. Sandusky was NOT an employee of PSU at the time.
2. Sandusky did not report to Paterno at the time.
3. Paterno didn’t witness the attacks taking place.
4. Paterno DID report the allegations to his supervisor.

In hindsight, he wishes he had done more.

Hell, in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t drank so much on my 21st birthday.

I wish I had driven a sensible car in my teen years, and not a Firebird.

Life is chock full of these regretful moments. Get over it.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 9:34 AM

And yes, I’m “hate filled”. I absolutely hate people who don’t do everything they can to stop known child rapists.

SoRight on January 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Every state has a child molester database with addresses and names. Go get your ammunition and get started. We’ll all be watching the evening news for your exploits.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Sociopath, wow . . . once again your rapier wit has reduced me to tears. You know, now that I’ve read back through your comments I have to concur that you *didn’t* say much at all. So many words, so many ad hominem attacks, so many insults, yet remarkably free of any actual insight. Now, this is just one “obsessed sociopath’s” view, but I’ve never seen someone use so many words to say so little. Remarkable.

By the way, it’s unlikely to make you sound any smarter, but as the person defending the honor of a child molestation enabler you should probably brush up on the definition of sociopathic behavior: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

Just sayin’ . . .

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 3:03 AM

That’s right, I didn’t say much with the point being you credited me as saying something I didn’t. Some would call that lying. I’ll be more fair to you and just say it was you playing games with comments here because this is your hobby. If one would take the time to read the sum total of your non-stopposting on the articles about Paterno it would be clear you didn’t know much of what you were talking about. You posted comments from early the morning before until after three this morning cherry picking comments from one article. You ignored a lot of info other people posted for you to read. Being the nutjob you are, I’m thinking they wasted their time. Because you had only one direction you wanted to go here and that was to be able to contort anything said into one more insulting post.

I’m sure you salt your comments with longer words to impress people. Self esteem must be an issue too. Making comments about how superior you are, more indications of your sociopathic nature. I would really hate to be one of the people that needs to be around you in real life. I guess we should be happy that non-stop angry blogging is a way to get this all out of your system.

I am happy to see you stopped for a while. Get some rest and take your medications. Off to school here for exams.

smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 9:41 AM

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 9:20 AM

LOL, I spoke too soon. I guess you don’t need a break. Happy Hating!

smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Off to school here for exams.

smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Wow, you’re a child. I’m shocked. The maturity of your slinging insults really masked your immature mind. Your mother must be so proud of her little champ.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Off to school here for exams.

smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Says it all.

Wade on January 23, 2012 at 9:54 AM

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The difference is that you driving a Firebird in your teen years didn’t cause 20 little boys to be raped and lead to a lifetime of emotional scarring. The consequences of one’s errors matter, and most of us would know that in the case of such serious and credible allegations (remember, he’d been investigated for this before and had admitted to and apologized for showering naked with little boys) everyone from Paterno on up should have erred on the side of protecting the innocent.

And as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I’ve never had someone come to me with an account of child rape, so there’s never been any situation in my life where I could have done something about it and chose not to. I once saw a grown man raise his fist to his child and I stepped in to prevent it. I volunteer and raise money for a shelter that houses women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. And if I was there one day and one of the abusers showed up looking to drag his wife or kid back for a beating, you’d better believe I would not report it to the supervisor and then go back to what I was doing. I’d use everything at my disposal to stop an innocent person from being victimized.

The fact that so many here don’t seem to feel a greater responsibility to go beyond “reporting” to stop a serial child rapist just fills me with sadness.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM

The second part of my response above should have been directed to Wade’s question:

What have you accomplished with everything you can do to stop child rapists?

Wade on January 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM

And as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I’ve never had someone come to me with an account of child rape, so there’s never been any situation in my life where I could have done something about it and chose not to. I once saw a grown man raise his fist to his child and I stepped in to prevent it. I volunteer and raise money for a shelter that houses women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. And if I was there one day and one of the abusers showed up looking to drag his wife or kid back for a beating, you’d better believe I would not report it to the supervisor and then go back to what I was doing. I’d use everything at my disposal to stop an innocent person from being victimized.

The fact that so many here don’t seem to feel a greater responsibility to go beyond “reporting” to stop a serial child rapist just fills me with sadness.
SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:03 AM

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM

OK, here’s your chance. Start here

Go get your gun, get some ammo, and get started. Wouldn’t want you to hate yourself for not doing “everything you can” to stop child rapists.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Soright, maybe you could try a little higher education?

And my Mom is dead. I’m sure she is proud somewhere.

smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM

As to your other misleading argument, the reason I bring up various regrets is to illustrate that man always has regrets of actions he did/did not take. I notice that you ignore the rest of the information given, which is right in line with your habit of cherrypicking information. But, hey, if it makes you feel like a big man, go for it.

By the way, we haven’t seen anywhere about you killing a child molester yet. Why aren’t you doing “everything you can” to stop them?

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM

By the way, we haven’t seen anywhere about you killing a child molester yet. Why aren’t you doing “everything you can” to stop them?

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Must be hard to fit it into his blogging schedule.

hawkdriver on January 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Must be hard to fit it into his blogging schedule.

hawkdriver on January 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM

That’s cause he posts like he’s got balls of iron, but he’s really got feet of clay.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Go get your gun, get some ammo, and get started. Wouldn’t want you to hate yourself for not doing “everything you can” to stop child rapists.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Yes, cause that’s what we’ve all been advocating here — vigilante justice to go after strangers we have no relationship with. You’ve read how many words here and the conclusion you’re left with is that we’re upsent Paterno didn’t go on a vigilante killing spree hunting down strangers on a sex offender registry.

So you’re really unable to distinguish between the moral duty of a Joe Paterno at being told firsthand by an employee that he saw another longtime employee (and previously accused child rapist) raping a child and my responsibility to randomly look up people on a sex offender list, find them and kill them? Please tell me I haven’t been speaking with someone unable to distinguish those 2 scenarios.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

And my Mom is dead. I’m sure she is proud somewhere.
smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I’m sorry for your loss. Sincerely.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:16 AM

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Dude, I’m not the one who said that

“I absolutely hate people who don’t do everything they can to stop known child rapists.”

You said that. So, if you’re not out there killing them, you’re not doing “everything you can” to stop them.

You’re also the one twisting and editing quotes to fit your needs, and I might add, minimizing people’s educational status and jumping to conclusions about their ages.

Like I said, get out there and get started. We’ll be waiting for the special report to be televised of your exploits. Run along, now, little man.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Off to school here for exams.

smoothsailing on January 23, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Can I guess Brown U? Off with you lad; maybe one day you will get some perspective, or not.

Go Bears! Beat Stanford!

Shivas Irons on January 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM

john, the quote of mine which *you* now pull out of context was where someone accused me of being “a hater” for not lionizing Paterno. And I responded that yes, I hate people who don’t do everything they can to stop child rapists who are known to them. That’s my beef with Paterno. You hold him to a different standard and that’s fine. We’ll agree to disagree.

But it’s sad to see that you, smoothsailing and hawkdriver can’t make your point without resorting to insulting my intelligence, calling me a sociopath, a “little man”, implying I need more education, calling me obsessed or calling me creepy.

At one point someone called me a moron and I believe that I turned the reference back around and said that if there was a moron in the conversation it wasn’t me. Other than that I’ve tried very hard to avoid personal attacks. Wade said he was off to exams — I don’t know many adults who are off to exams on a workday so I concluded from that and his childish insults that he’s probably got some years of growing up to do.

But by and large the bulk of the name calling has been directed at me not by me.

We have a difference of opinion here and if you all can’t discuss it without any of these various insults: “little man”, “feet of clay”, “sociopath”, “take my meds”, expressing regret for the people I live with, suggesting anger management classes etc, then I’m pretty sure you’re not the kind of people who I’m going to learn from arguing with. And at the end of the day that’s the interesting part about discussing ideas with people with whom you disagree. I’ve said my piece and the preponderance of commenters here seem to concur that Paterno failed. I’ll leave you three to keep flinging feces.

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Growing up in Penn State country, my family were big Penn State fans. My father who looked up to JoePa passed away three years ago. They have never met, but maybe now their paths may cross in Heaven!

Conservative_Hippie on January 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM

SoRight, your biggest problem is that you don’t seem to understand the value of hindsight to a human being. Life is full of would/could/should have moments, and you calling Paterno an “enabler” only enhances your ignorance of the facts of the case. So yeah, it’s a bit harsh to say that a person like you has feet of clay, but again, it’s not an inaccurate statement, given the statement you made. Of course, nobody REALLY expects you to go out and waste some perv, but grandstanding on your part doesn’t add to the conversation.

Did Paterno fail? I’d have to say no, but the reasons are not because of what you might think. It’s because he did report it, and having NOT witnessed the “event,” it’s not up to him to do anything more. But calling him an enabler of child rape, as you did, is an exaggeration to the point of being libelous. Remember, he only heard about it, and did not witness it. And, Sandusky was not on his staff at the time of the incident.

Did Paterno wish he could have done more? I’m sure he did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

So if I’ve been harsh on you, or if anyone’s been harsh on you, remember, it’s only words. And considering the vitriol that has been visited on Paterno (misguidedly), you’re getting off quite easily.

john1schn on January 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

I happened to have the honor of meeting JoePa at the Penn State Blue and White Banquet in 2005. My father in law(now deceased)played trumpet in the Penn State Blue Band from 1934-1938 and was an active alumni. JoePa came to every table at the banquet and introduced himself to all, shaking hands with everyone who attended. I was very honored to personally meet him as he was a true gentleman. Our whole family is still in shock as to what has happened at Penn State and our alumni group is actively seeking to force the entire Board of Trustees to resign in the wake of this scandal. When you have doubts about which trustees knew and when, it’s only right for them to all resign and start over to ensure none of the taint remains.

MJZZZ on January 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM

talkingpoints on January 23, 2012 at 7:57 AM

+1

Send_Me on January 23, 2012 at 6:50 PM

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