Sweeny: Joe Had To Go

By Sweeny Murti
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I will be at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

And I am glad Joe Paterno will not.

I made plans to be at this weekend’s game against Nebraska, the last home game of the season, a while back.  A couple months ago my friends—my roommates at Penn State twenty years ago—thought it might be cool to see what many of us thought even at that time could be Joe Paterno’s last home game as Penn State head coach.  The events of the past week have changed all of that.

The details of the Jerry Sandusky scandal are horrifying.  And the actions—or more precisely the inactions—of Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Mike McQueary and Joe Paterno are indefensible.  To think that many people knew there was a man terrorizing young boys and their only reaction was seemingly to tell him to do that stuff somewhere else…well, it’s just absurdly disgusting.

We know Sandusky faces his fate through the legal system, and it’s hard to think he will do anything less than spend the rest of his life in prison.  The other administrators will be up to their eyeballs in lawsuits and many outside observers will probably forget their names down the road.  But Paterno is the one who will wear this disgrace in public the longest.

Paterno admitted that, in hindsight, he should have done more than he did.  And he’s right.  But it wasn’t a strong enough sentiment anymore.  This wasn’t a simple error in judgment.  As we recognize the timeline of events and the numerous chances Paterno and others had to keep more boys from being abused by Sandusky, we realize this was turning a blind eye to something that had to be stopped at all costs.

Paterno, despite all the good he has done over decades as the honorable face of college athletics, did not belong on the sidelines anymore.  The distraction of having him in the building would have been too much.  If Paterno was not going to step back himself, he needed to be pushed just as the Board of Trustees pushed Wednesday night. The games, sadly, are no longer a place for him to be.

For almost half a century Penn State football games have been about the coach, about Paterno.  The games are now about the players, and these players did nothing to be punished.  They don’t deserve to play their final games under the cloud of Paterno and this ugly scandal.  The people involved in this mess should pay the price, and hopefully they all will.  But the young men that suit up in the blue and white each Saturday deserve better.

I know there are people out there of the opinion that Penn State shouldn’t even play this weekend, or that they should donate their bowl game earnings, or even forgo the bowl game altogether.  These are all ridiculous solutions to a problem that was not created by the players involved.

Sure this is all about money, but let me tell you why.  Penn State football generates tens of millions of dollars a year for the university, funds that are used to operate the rest of the school’s athletic department.  That means scholarship athletes in track, cross country, gymnastics, soccer, field hockey, and every other varsity sport rely on football to bring in money for their athletic careers and education.

Meanwhile, State College is a small town that turns into a small city on seven Saturdays a year.  To local shops, restaurants, and hotels it’s like seven Black Fridays.  To take away a home football Saturday and the business boost it brings, during already tough economic times, would hurt families that don’t deserve to be hurt by this.

The players themselves have futures of their own.  They deserve the chance to move on, to finish what they started this year.  Punish the men in the suits, the men in leadership positions that failed to lead when it counted most.  But don’t punish the young men who are trying to represent themselves and their school in an honorable way.  I know it might be decades before honor can be brought back to Penn State, but the kids in uniform deserve their chance to begin the healing.

But Joe Paterno should not be there, on the sidelines or in the booth.  And now it is official that he will not.  He did a lot of good for a lot of young men and women over the years.  And that’s a fact that is lost for now, but will be remembered again at another point in time.   But now it was time to walk away, and if he wasn’t going to do it on his own then forcing him was the right move.

Where does he go?  That’s a great question.  Paterno still lives within walking distance of the Penn State campus.  It’s not like he packs his bags and drives home to some far away place.  He is being exiled in a place that’s been his home since the Eisenhower administration.  It’s a unique twist in a very sad case.

I will be there with my friends this weekend.  For us it’s like getting together with family.  We have no idea what the atmosphere will be like.  We just know that it is not the same as it used to be, and it will never be the same again.

But that’s nothing compared to the lives of the real families who were affected by this tragic series of events in the first place.

Sweeny Murti



  • BleacherCreature26

    To those who defend Joe Paterno in any way:

    The argument by some is, “oh but he’s such a great man! It was a major lack of judgement, and he should be punished, but down deep he means well.”

    This is an argument I’ve heard too many times over the past week, and it’s truly disgusting. Winning football games does not make you a ‘great man,’ nor does writing books about honor and dignity. What we have learned is that Joe-Pa chose his school’s SHORT-TERM reputation over the LIVES of innocent young boys. Now, ironically enough, his school’s reputation is gone, and the lives of innocent young boys are forever stained.

  • Doah

    “The one constant through all the years, Sweeney, has been Penn State football. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But football in State College has marked the time. This stadium, this game: it’s a part of our past, Sweeney. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh… people will come Sweeney. People will most definitely come.”
    Sweeney we plagarized this a little.


  • Jeff Z

    You and others have accurately expressed their horror over this twisted, disgusting series (and growing) of incidents. Now we understand that there are 20 boys – what will that be at the end of the day? 320? We’re still working on the tip of the iceberg on this.

    There is one thing that I disagree with you on. I understand your point regarding the innocence of the players on the team, and the financial benefits to State College when a game is in town. But, how can Penn State possibly consider having 107,000 people chanting “We are…Penn State” on Saturday? How can they have 107,000 people chanting “We want…JoePa?” That is a callous stab to the heart of the 20 (or more) children and their families who’s lives were ruined by this sick predator. Actions have consequences. One consequence should absolutely be forfeiture of this game, leaving an empty stadium as a testament to Penn State’s shame and failures. An empty, silent stadium, in weeping tribute to those boys and their families is the ONLY option.

    I don’t know of any way to reach the show hosts (can’t work out calling in) but I would ask that you consider bringing this up the next time that you’re on so that it can be part of the public discourse.

    • steve

      you are so right! There is no bigger sports fan than me but we must realize it is not real life.
      Putting the team ,the game the university ahead of these now troubled for life boys is just plain wrong. Game should be forfeited. “We are…ASHAMED!”

  • Marc Weiss

    I still want to know how these young kids wound up there in the first place w/Sandusky ? Where were their parents ? Did he kidnap them ? My kids go no place with strangers. I could care less if they were invited to hang out in the white house with the president. I go too as long as they are underage. Not blaming the parents, just trying to figure it all out.

    • Travis

      He created a foundation called the Second Mile. The foundation gave him access to disadvantaged youth.

  • julia

    While I know that this will never be read by Mike Francesca (who I listen to frequently) I just would like to ask these questions…When the grad assistant came in and saw what was happening-he ran and called his father in a panic. I wonder what the age of the rape victim had to be for his father to say GO BACK IN AND GET THAT KID AND GET OUT OF THERE. Obviously 10 was old enough for this kid to fend for himself….did the victim need to be 8? 6? 4? What was the tolerance threshold? What if it was a 10 year old girl? Would there have been a different reaction? What if it was the grad assistants little brother or sister or cousin? What if it was his father’s grandson…any different advice than get out of there? Let’s say the grad assistant was a panicked kid in a situation he couldn’t handle…his father has just as big a sin to answer for.
    It’s nice to hear his father say yesterday that his son is a good person.
    It was a good thing his nice son had a supportive father to call when he was in a troubling situation…
    It was too bad that 10 year old kid didn’t have someone to turn to when he was in trouble…I guess being pinned against a shower wall and raped by a 60 year old man wasn’t enough trouble to be in for that family.
    That kid was someone’s son…he didn’t have to be your son for you to have done something to help him. You don’t want to be the one to go in and break it up…pull the damm fire alarm…something…anything.

    • Steve A

      To Julia- You are of course 100% correct! When you hear about a young child being violated like this it just makes you angry to the point of violence. However knowing that someone could have stopped it or prevented future violations is in my mind just as horrible as the act itself.
      PS-not sure where you’re going with Mike F comment but I too listen frequently although I despise him, Go figure…

    • Debbie Marcus Zotinis

      i agree… my biggest question is… why is the same mcqueary going to be on the sidelines at saturday’s nebraska game? maybe his family as well> he eye witnessed this horrific act,yet he still has a job,joepa=gone. doesnt make sense,does it?

  • Steve A

    Sweeny-you start out with the correct sentiment but then let your common sense to be distorted by your Penn State “vision”. Of course innocent people will be hurt by the loss of revenue generated by PSU football. Of course the players are not at fault.
    However by reducing the ramifications to dollar$ you fall in with the masses who live by “anything for a buck”.
    THE ONLY INNOCENTS to be considered here are the young boys who will forever be scarred by their encounter with Sandusky. That’s FOREVER! How dare you reduce it to economics. Paterno turned a blind eye to a pedophile. You have mis identified who the victims are. Pitiful! Is this what they teach at your Alma Mater?

  • michaelfury
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