Coutinho: Joe Paterno Must Step Down

By Rich Coutinho
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When the Penn State story broke this weekend, I was shocked to hear what had happened, but in the last 48 hours as the horrific details continue to filter out, I can only think of the children that were abused and how their lives were taken from them. Think about all the things we took for granted as kids with safety at the top of the list. And these children may never feel safe again – no matter what happens.

Related: Sweeny: Tough To Be Proud To Be A Penn Stater

But the thing that really angers me is that there was not one adult that put the children’s safety first. You know what they put first? The Program, football, wins, and the Nittany Lion legacy and that is why Joe Paterno should be asked to resign and if he refuses, the locks need to be changed on his office door. According to the Grand Jury documents, eight children were abused by Jerry Sandusky, but how many more are afraid to come forward because they were threatened? The testimony infers that children were taken on trips by the coach and if they did not comply with his request, they would be punished by being sent home.

The fact that in 2002 Sandusky severed ties with Paterno and Penn State and never got as much as a passing interest from another school should have been a red flag for everyone involved. It makes me think other schools heard the rumors and stayed as far away from him as possible. That is understandable for those schools, but for Penn State to look the other way and allow Sandusky to have access to the campus and bring young boys to practice as recently as 2007 is difficult to comprehend. Many people theorize Sandusky was revered in Happy Valley but my point here is a simple one — Joe Paterno is the one person in this program that carried more clout than Sandusky and he could have pulled the plug here. Instead of doing that, he passed the buck by merely telling his superiors about it. Paterno could have demanded that more be done here and that is why he has blood on his hands as well.

And then there is the graduate assistant who witnessed a crime being committed in the shower of the locker room. All I can say is a reasonable person should have pulled that child to safety instead of waiting to tell his superiors. Every human being has a responsibility in this case to protect a defenseless child who is being molested by a predator. But even if he was unsure what to do, what happened when he told his superiors? They tried to sweep it under the rug and looked the other way. Disgraceful.

The DA said in her press conference this is not about a university or a football program and she was right. But in a sense, the Penn State football program is in question here as well. They had a responsibility to come forward and help. They had a responsibility to tell the authorities the truth–especially when being deposed by the Grand Jury. And for crying out loud, they had a responsibility to do all this so future children would not be molested.

The NCAA spends countless hours investigating whether a football player getting a tattoo for free constitutes a violation but in reality, the Penn State case is bigger than anything we’ve seen in recent years. Bigger than anything at USC, Miami, or Ohio State. And for that reason alone, both Joe Paterno and the University President should step down TODAY. All this happened on their watch, and in my opinion, they let it continue to happen. Firing them will NEVER get these children’s’ lives back but it may encourage other victims to come forward in this case or in other cases.

The future of our children is the most valuable commodity we have in society and it trumps everything else — BCS standings, win and losses, national championships, or Joe Paterno’s legacy. And the sad thing about this is all the things I just mentioned were placed at a higher value than the children. The actions of the people in charge at Happy Valley illustrate that point. And to say Joe Paterno did what the law said he should do is nonsense. Common decency tells us he should have done so much more.

Terrible story. Who should be punished and how?

  • Warsteiner Wes

    Joe should have retired when he pooped his pants in Columbus a few years ago.

  • nichole

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  • Frank

    I listened to sports radio in NY yesterday and heard several reporters who were at PSU in the late 90’s and early 00’s admit they had heard rumblings / rumors of Sandusky’s behavior at the time. They did nothing about it; they didn’t go to the police, they didn’t investigate further, they didn’t confront Sandusky, they didn’t go to Paterno or the AD or the Univ President, they didn’t seek out the children / parents who might have been victims, they didn’t write articles addressing the issue — they did nothing, nada, zero! But they were up on their high horse claiming that everyone else needs to be fired because they didn’t do enough.

    I don’t know what happened at PSU, what Paterno did or knew nor what the Univ President did or knew. What I do know now is that the media had some inkling of a problem and did nothing to address it. Maybe Paterno and other university officials need to resign or be fired. But certainly many media people need to re-evaluate their own culpability; they are as guilty of facilitating the victimhood of more children than anyone but Sandusky himself.

  • Max

    Grand Jury report is disturbing. They should all go to prison.

  • Roman Empire

    Well all these coaches or roaches have a job hooked up with the Catholic Church. They’ll fit right in.

  • Old Glory

    White dirty old man, a Penn State coach, raping little young minorites. What’s new? It’s been happening since Columbus and Europe invaded the “New World”.

  • axomxa

    Apparently granville is not from Boston. . . they got their “heat’: and Penn State is getting what it deserves

    • Ellen

      axomxa, agree 100 per cent.


    Hey Jim “Hanes Her Way”, quite the intelligent and insightful comment, that 7th grade education goes a long way!!

    As for Penn State, as scandalous as this is, who are we actually trying to indite here? I am sort of in agreement with GRANVILLE’s comment.

  • Kevin Sommons

    As a Penn State grad I am mortified by the tolerance of a man who has consistently claimed the moral high ground. The horrid stench of this heinous crime will long waft through Happy Valley because good men did nothing. Goodbye Saint Joe, your legacy is forever tarnished.

  • Granville

    While the outcry over this horrible set of crimes is understandable, how is it the Catholic church can sweep the same crimes under the rug for decades, if not centuries, and it gets less heat than Penn State?

    • Logan

      Because when it comes to ones religion all of a sudden they are blind. Religion is just another word for two-faced.

  • So uhhhh

    Always easy for an outsider to have 20-20 vision. Rich, I respect your opinion, but you have to realize the blame should be put more on Graham Spanier than JoePa. Joe is accountable for sure, but all the blame doesnt deserve to fall on his shoulders.

  • SokrMom

    I don’t understand why the NCAA is being silent here. This is all about college football. This program should be suspended immediately. It’s not enough that Joe Paterno is leaving. He was bound to leave soon anyway. (And he has only himself to thank that he is leaving under a cloud–had he done the right thing, he would still be regarded as a saint). The PROGRAM needs to be made to feel some consequences, so that other programs are never tempted to similarly ignore big-time wrongdoing just to keep the football revenue rolling in.

    • Bill M

      Exactly right.

  • ace11

    i actually agree with Coutinho on this

    But Rich: You should STEP DOWN ALSO

  • Jim Hanes

    I’m glad I’m not a Porn State fan, They renamed Happy Valley to Cornhole Valley!

    • Truth

      Now you know what snack is sold at Penn State. Polish Sausage.

  • Robert Richardson

    The institutional complicity is unconscionable. There is no justification for any action (or lack of) short of an official police report. The fact that the crime and coverup occurred at an institution whose mission is to mold young lives makes it even more incredulous. ALL who had knowledge need to suffer legal consequences, especially Joe Paterno. It’s pretty clear cut, no further elaboration or discussion needed.

  • michaelfury
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