Finally, somebody behaved responsibly at Penn State. Joe Paterno was fired, and that was the right thing to do. Then, the students idiotically rioted in the streets, giving Happy Valley yet another black eye.
The whole story is disgusting, shameful and pure evil. And the man who could have prevented at least some of it from happening wanted to coach football this Saturday. That just could not happen.
Needless to say, Joe Paterno is not the real bad guy here. But, he could have done so much more to prevent the real bad guy, Jerry Sandusky, from abusing who knows how many more children.
Paterno did what was legally obligated of him. He reported to his boss that he heard Sandusky was raping a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State showers. But he should have done so much more. He should have called the police. He should have followed up with the university. He should never have allowed Sandusky back on campus ever again.
Yet, Sandusky was on campus for years after Paterno knew. We may never know how many children Sandusky abused. This isn't covering up a player doing drugs, or cheating on an exam, or accepting money from boosters. This is child abuse. This is maybe the most heinous thing a person can do, and Paterno should have done all he could to prevent it from happening at his school.
Again, Paterno is not the criminal here. However, he is morally complicit if he knew what was going on and didn't do enough to stop it. His legacy is now tarnished, but he shouldn't have been allowed to go out and be celebrated like he would have been if he was allowed to coach this Saturday against Nebraska. Paterno has accomplished so much during his 46-year coaching career. He has been honored and praised countless times over the years, and deservedly so. But this was not the time to do it.
In a statement released today, Paterno said he wants to finish his career with dignity and determination. Dignity? How about the dignity of the victims and their families? Paterno should have done the dignified thing and reported to the authorities what he knew as soon as possible. He took his own dignity away, and now Penn State has taken his job away.
With all that he has accomplished on field, becoming college football's all-time winningest coach, winning two national championships over the course of 46 years, Paterno should have been able to go out on his own terms and say when he will coach his final game. But because of his reprehensible inaction in this most disturbing case, I believe he lost that right. Even Paterno admitted he should have done more.
The Penn State board of trustees agreed and did the right thing.