It dawned on me this morning that the students rioting on State College campus Wednesday night, apparently in defense of a man who abetted the rape of a 10-year-old boy in his own locker room, are no different than their hero, Paterno, or the administrators above him. That is, the Penn State scandal is about misplaced priorities and the woefully overblown significance given to them. It is about King Football and the other Too Big to Fail institutions — hell, this applies to big government, big banks, and the Catholic church, among others. In this instance, it is clear that PSU officials, like those stupid kids in the street, value football more than doing good or, as it appears, protecting the innocent.
So a number of things bother me about this fiasco, besides, of course, the allegations themselves. For one, Mike McQueary, the assistant coach who witnessed Sandusky in action, should not still have his job. I suspect this, his firing, will come to pass by days end after the trustees huddle for round 2. His inaction is a federal offense (Title 18 USC Section 4) and deserves prison in other states (and, I believe, the last episode of Seinfeld). Said many times by others, McQueary is just as guilty as Paterno, who himself should have stepped down Wednesday morning instead of forcing the hand of the Trustees later that night.
To this point, Paterno should not get the slightest benefit of the doubt or sympathy pass from any — not for his age, or his good standing in the community, or his past deeds. He let his ego get the best of him till the very end. And for this — for sitting on these charges for 10 years — he deserves whatever shame comes to him.
Finally, I shake my head when newspeople say this scandal isn’t about football. OF COURSE IT’S ABOUT FOOTBALL. It’s not only about football. But it’s certainly the key player — the iron curtain behind which this horrible tragedy unfolded. And it would be nothing short of disgraceful to let the Nittany Lions’ season go on: a further sign that the people in charge still don’t get it. Please, show us you understand the gravity of this situation. Show us, whoever’s in control, that, deep down, you understand Doing Right trumps sports.
As for Jerry Sandusky, he should be sent back into that dark locker room. This time with Matt Millen, while PSU looks the other way.