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Sins of the Father

  • Woa. Check out ESPN - CFB Page. All of the columnists are calling for the Death Penalty.

    What a fool I was.

    In 1986, I spent a week in State College, Pa., researching a 10-page Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year piece on Joe Paterno.

    It was supposed to be a secret, but one night the phone in my hotel room rang. It was a Penn State professor, calling out of the blue.

    "Are you here to take part in hagiography?" he said.

    "What's hagiography?" I asked.

    "The study of saints," he said. "You're going to be just like the rest, aren't you? You're going to make Paterno out to be a saint. You don't know him. He'll do anything to win. What you media are doing is dangerous."

    Jealous egghead, I figured.

    What an idiot I was.Twenty-five years later, when former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of a 15-year reign of pedophilia on young boys, I thought Paterno was too old and too addled to understand, too grandfatherly and Catholic to get that Sandusky was committing grisly crimes using Paterno's own football program as bait.

    But I was wrong. Paterno knew. He knew all about it. He'd known for years. He knew and he followed it vigilantly.

    That's all clear now after Penn State's own investigator, former FBI director Louis Freeh, came out Thursday and hung the whole disgusting canvas on a wall for us. Showed us the emails, read us the interviews, shined a black light on all of the lies they left behind. It cost $6.5 million and took eight months and the truth it uncovered was 100 times uglier than the bills.

    Paterno knew about a mother's cry that Sandusky had molested her son in 1998. Later, Paterno lied to a grand jury and said he didn't. Paterno and university president Graham Spanier and vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley all knew what kind of sick coach they had on the payroll in Sandusky. Schultz warned them. "Is this opening of pandora's box?" he wrote them in emails. "Other children?" "Sexual improprieties?"

    It gets worse. According to Freeh, Spanier, Schultz and Curley were set to call child services on Sandusky in February 2001 until Paterno apparently talked them out of it. Curley wasn't
    "comfortable" going to child services after that talk with JoePa.

    Yeah, that's the most important thing, your comfort.

    What'd they do instead? Alerted nobody. Called nobody. And let Sandusky keep leading his horrific tours around campus. "Hey, want to see the showers?" That sentence alone ought to bring down the statue.

    What a stooge I was.

    I talked about Paterno's "true legacy" in all of this. Here's his true legacy: Paterno let a child molester go when he could've stopped him. He let him go and then lied to cover his sinister tracks. He let a rapist go to save his own recruiting successes and fundraising pitches and big-fish-small-pond hide.

    Here's a legacy for you. Paterno's cowardice and ego and fears allowed Sandusky to molest at least eight more boys in the years after that 1998 incident -- Victims 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10. Just to recap: By not acting, a grown man failed to protect eight boys from years of molestation, abuse and self-loathing, all to save his program the embarrassment. The mother of Victim 1 is "filled with hatred toward Joe Paterno," the victim's lawyer says. "She just hates him, and reviles him." Can you blame her?

    What a sap I was.

    I hope Penn State loses civil suits until the walls of the accounting office cave in. I hope that Spanier, Schultz and Curley go to prison for perjury. I hope the NCAA gives Penn State the death penalty it most richly deserves. The worst scandal in college football history deserves the worst penalty the NCAA can give. They gave it to SMU for winning without regard for morals. They should give it to Penn State for the same thing. The only difference is, at Penn State they didn't pay for it with Corvettes. They paid for it with lives.

    What a chump I was.

    I tweeted that, yes, Paterno should be fired, but that he was, overall, "a good and decent man." I was wrong. Good and decent men don't do what Paterno did. Good and decent men protect kids, not rapists. And to think Paterno comes from "father" in Italian.

    This throws a can of black paint on anything anybody tells me about Paterno from here on in. "No NCAA violations in all those years." I believe it. He was great at hiding stuff. "He gave $4 million to the library." In exchange for what? "He cared about kids away from the football field." No, he didn't. Not all of them. Not when it really mattered.

    What a tool I was.

    As Joe Paterno lay dying, I actually felt sorry for him. Little did I know he was taking all of his dirty secrets to the grave. Nine days before he died, he had The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins in his kitchen. He could've admitted it then. Could've tried a simple "I'm sorry." But he didn't. Instead, he just lied deeper. Right to her face. Right to all of our faces.

    That professor was right, all those years ago. I was engaging in hagiography. So was that school. So was that town. It was dangerous. Turns out it builds monsters.

    Not all of them ended up in prison.

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    Rick Reilly | email
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    11-time National Sportswriter of the Year
    Author of "Sports from Hell: My Two-Year Search for the World's Dumbest Competition"
    Finalist 2011 Thurber Prize for Humor

  • I don't think there should even be a question about it. All key players in the university were involved in a cover up of the most heinous and morally depraved kind of behavior, and for what end? To further the interests of the football program. Illegal and immoral activity of the worst kind was swept under the rug so that it could be business as usual, games could be won, reputations preserved, recruits be brought in and the coffers continued to be filled. So what happens when some other program finds a way to funnel money to players in order to further the ends of the program, and gets hammered by the NCAA? Aren't they going to say, at least we didn't let young kids continue to get raped? How can we get shut down and not Penn St.? This was abuse of institutional control of the worst kind. It happened because it served the interests of the program. The program needs to pay the price.

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    I may not be pretty, but I'm fast..... POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11

  • Shut down football for a MINIMUM of 5 years and kick PSU out of Big 10. Let them fend for themselves the way they let those kids deal with it on their own

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

  • Penn State Football is done for a long time. Read this:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf--penn-state-civil-suits-sandusky-victims-cost-joe-paterno-freeh-report.html

  • Holy crap. What an attorney feeding frenzy. And it they can connect Title IX to all this, shutting down the football program is the least of their worries. Penn St. needs to figure out how to cut their losses, and football might be the sacrificial lamb.

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    I may not be pretty, but I'm fast..... POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11

  • yeah they're screwed. I for one will have a front row seat and a bowl of popcorn as this unfolds. I hope they shut that entire place down and level it

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

  • I agree 1,000%.I am sutre that people outside the football program (professors, secretarties, etc" had to know about this.That whole university needs to go to hell!!!!!!gun

    2 Time POTW in a previous life Plus 1 on 24/7 = Gringo Mafia Professor Emeritus of Veterans Affairs.

  • They are talking about Title IX lawsuits now. This could theoretically bankrupt PSU. If they do get sued and lose under Title IX i think that disqualifies them for federal financial aid. Not a lawyer so don't quote me on it but I think that's correct. No fed money no PSU

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  • God bless the children and the families who have suffered because of those at PSU who failed to do what they should have. May they find some peace now, and more in the future.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by nd3b 20 months ago

  • At the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest, I don't think the PSU football program -- its current coaches and players who were not in any way involved in this -- should be punished for the CRIMES of other men.

    What Paterno, Curley and the others who did this are guilty of is CRIMES. Others, who had nothing to do with this, are innocent of any wrongdoing.

    If, tomorrow, a college football player murders someone -- say 6 people, even -- should the program he plays for be shut down? Or if this happened at your local community bank -- say the CEO were a pedophile -- should the bank be shut down and everyone fired? Should children, by court order, be rerouted from walking past that bank on the way home from school?

    Yes, by the logic that is being applied by some to the Sandusky situation.

    Why not go for all the marbles and have PSU totally shut down? Revoke the university's charter? Why not?

    Because that would be overkill, which is also what handing PSU football the death penalty would be.

    This was not a recruting or financial infraction, but a CRIME. While, at the same time, what Sandusky and the others were guilty of did not accrue to the benefit of the football program. Quite the opposite, in fact. It's apples and organges. This is not about rules, but laws.

    What needs to be done simply is to clean out the remaining rot from the PSU program and administration, if elements of it still exist; try the criminals; and imprison the ones found guilty. Have them do hard time.

    These were individual CRIMES, and, it's been my impression that, in this country, we don't mete out "collective puhishment."

    Harry Truman is said to have experienced great delight when it was annnounced to him that the bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. I wonder if he always felt that way.

    What many are feeling now is a psychological overreaction, cleansing themselves, as it were, from any possible association to these CRIMES by calling for the strictest "retribution" imaginable against people who were merely other bystanders.

    If PSU wishes to examine its conscience and walk away from football for a year or two in order to reevaluate its role as a university, that's another question. And a moral one. But I see no legal grounds to destroy PSU's football program over this.

    To me, this looks more like a lynching of those guilty by association. A form of "justice" Stalin perfected.

    BTW, I despised Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions and still do. The guy was a crybaby and hated ND with a passion. So I'm not shedding any tears, but to deep-six the program over this? That's a different story, especially when the bull being gored is not yours.

    So, while on the matter of fooball per se, I'm just as irrational as the next guy, I still believe in something approaching the rule of law and the distinction between guilt and innocence. And that is the issue I believe we are facing.

  • It's not about the crimes of one man. it's about the four most powerful men at PSU knew and did nothing. It's about the culture at PSU that put football above everything else. It's about sending a message that this cannot and will not be tolerated any longer. One football team is not above the safety and lives of children which is what those four men stated was true by their actions. Send the message and SHUT IT DOWN. I don't care that current players would be punished. They will find new schools and the coaches will find new jobs. PSU isn't going to self impose any sanctions. They just ruled the statue will remain standing. They clearly haven't learned from their mistakes and won't without drastic measures being taken.

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

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    Scored 4 touchdowns...in a single game. Polk High!

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  • I just want to clarify one thing in this post.

    I said that certain people, including Paterno and Curley are guilty of crimes. In fact, they have not even been indicted to my knowledge. So, please excuse this error, and, by this side-post I am retracting my original statement.

    What I should have said is the following:

    "What Paterno and Curley and the others who allegedly did this are being accused of in the press are CRIMES."

    I'm also retracting any other comments, in that post, regarding anyone's proven guilt. Whatever criminal guilt that may exist here -- and there is reason to believe there is plenty -- has not been established in court.

  • Had to up-vote any post (even if cut and paste) that uses the word "hagiography".flex

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    CMC--Chief Engineer for Carolina Recruiting Pipeline and Director of Zone Blocking. As the offensive line goes, so the team goes!

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  • I think I go on the side with Risksorter on this one. While what everyone says about the level incomprehensible behavior by the 4 major players at PSU cannot be overlooked, what jurisdiction does the NCAA actually have? Hypothetically speaking, if JP found out Sandusky embezzled millions of dollars from a business and covered it up, I'm not sure anyone would basking for a death penalty. while I am not comparing theft to the horrible things Sandusky did, both are still criminal activity on merit. I am not sure the NCAA has ever intervened when a coach has broken a law that does not directly involve the operations of the football program.

    Just my opinion.

    Mumster

  • http://www.psu.edu/ur/2011/NCAA.pdf

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

  • You are correct.

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    Gringo Mafia Director of Recruiting Analysis // POTW --> 5-16-11 / 5-30-11 / 3-5-12 / 12-30-12 / 2-24-13 / 9-1-13 / 9-22-13

  • I don't want to make light of the situation because obviously it's the most terrible crime committable and it happened for many years, but if Penn St. gets the death penalty, which is sounds more and more like they could and will, their whole roster can transfer without penalty. If that should happen, do any of you think that some would try to go to Notre Dame and if that happens, what are the rules about scholarships? Do schools withhold some for players or do they all walk-on and get the tuition covered by Penn St. still or..? Just wondering..

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    Gringo Mafia Director of Recruiting Analysis // POTW --> 5-16-11 / 5-30-11 / 3-5-12 / 12-30-12 / 2-24-13 / 9-1-13 / 9-22-13

  • I got you, I fully expect the NCAA to come down on PSU. I am just having trouble seeing their power to do so. I dont see what happened at PSU is directly related to the operations of the athletic program.

    Mumster

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    CMC--Chief Engineer for Carolina Recruiting Pipeline and Director of Zone Blocking. As the offensive line goes, so the team goes!

  • Risk, strong logic and hard to dispute. But, I will.

    The notion that innocent will suffer is inevitable in almost any NCAA probe, where the perpetrators often run away unscathed, and their successors are left to clean up the debris. If that were not the case, almost any act would go unpunished unless it could be unearthed on the spot, and justice meted out immediately. It is, to be sure, an imperfect solution, but failing that, the NCAA would be rendered impotent, even more so than some currently think.

    This situation presents them with a decision worthy of Solomon. There are no precedents, nor any applicable rule nor by-law directly addressing the situation. The law will attend to various guilty parties, while the deceased will suffer a justifiably tarnished reputation. But, what of the "program"? This was the intended beneficiary of the collusion of silence, not Sandusky, and this is what the NCAA needs to address. Failure to act in this situation sets a precedent of its own, and I would maintain, it is not a good one. Proportionality will come into play, and future acts, whether by commission or omission, will have this as a reference point, and nearly everything that follows will pale in comparison.

    There is sentiment going around that would lead us to believe we need our pound of flesh from Penn St. That's unfortunate, though predictable. It still becomes a question of justice, and in this instance, there are only very imperfect alternatives. People fear that, by acting in this case, the NCAA will appropriate to itself too much power to act in criminal matters. Perhaps that is a legitimate concern, but I don't think so. It's only where the program is an intended beneficiary that it should come into play. In this particular instance, it could have been one more deterrent to those who were seemingly only concerned with the welfare of the program and not countless boys (and there invariably are, in these situations) who would face a nightmarish future. Individuals were culpable, but the program reaped the benefits of silence and the avoidance of embarrassment. As such, it needs to face consequences. It was connected to the crimes of Sandusky through its facilities and its reputation which gave him stature in the community. It was not only a beneficiary but an accomplice. Millions of dollars continued to be made against this backdrop of silence. It is a both a question of balance, and a question of justice. Programs, too, must pay a price.

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    I may not be pretty, but I'm fast..... POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11