Doug and Charlie are wearing me down; Paterno definitely should have done more. (See Charlie’s excellent piece on his blog, Temporary Knucksline.) What I'm still upset about is how institutions mete out justice today, in the interest of a politically correct vision of "fairness."
Right now there are five principals on the radar: Sandusky, Curley, Schultz, Paterno, and McQuery. (Fired President Spanier doesn't really enter into this part of the discussion.) Let’s see how things shake out with each of them.
At the risk of offending those who believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty, Sandusky is a piece of shit. Assuming he’s found guilty, put him in gen pop, make sure the rest of the cons know who he is, and let nature take its course.
McQuery was the only other person who could have done anything material. He not only failed to do so, he had to ask Daddy what he should do. I was willing to give him a pass because of his age at the time, until I remembered my own oft-spoken scorn for such arguments. We have men and women of the age McQuery was then making life and death decisions under fire on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a quarterback, he was trained in leadership skills. They didn’t take.
Paterno was summarily fired after 62 years of service that put Penn State on the map. This is not such a huge story if it happens at Coastal Carolina or Guilford. It’s a national sensation because it happened at Penn State, and Penn State is such a big deal because it’s one of the most successful programs in the country and graduates over 80% of its football players, with nary a hint of a recruiting violation. Why are all those things true? Joe Paterno. Penn State fired him for making the school look bad, when no one outside of State College would have cared about the school looking bad had not Paterno put it on the map in the first place.
Curley and Schultz had the same information as Paterno, and are under indictment for perjuring themselves before a grand jury that had no issue with Paterno’s testimony. Schultz was allowed to retire; Curley is on administrative leave while he defends himself against the charges. Should we assume he will get his old job back if he is found innocent? Let’s hope not. In that case, why not fire him now?
The reason that will rise immediately to the top is that you shouldn’t fire someone who has not been proven guilty. This is a bogus argument. Penn State has made it clear being under indictment is not a firing offense. Curley should be fired for the same reason Paterno was, for not doing more to stop Sandusky. His perjury is but a piece of that.
Now that I’ve had time to think about this, Paterno had to go. This happened on his watch. He as much as acknowledged that when he announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season. What still bothers me is how none of the good he’s done over the past 62 years seems to matter anymore.
Announcing his retirement after the season may have been a tactical error. He should have consulted with the Trustees first. Come to an agreement. At least then they would almost have to have had some kind of joint announcement of how and when he’d go. As it was, since he had already announced he’d leave, they were in a position where they had to show the media and PC Police they took this seriously. (Finally.) The result was a “don’t let the door hit you on the ass” firing.
Curley and Schultz—and even Sandusky—will get their days in court. Paterno—whose offense is not that he did too much wrong but not enough right—gets to fall on his sword. No one cares about his side of the story anymore. It is not a defense of child abuse to say that he deserves better.