Keidel: The Sad State Of Penn State

By Jason Keidel
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Let’s understand this…

A few oil men buy Eric Dickerson a new car, slide some envelopes under the table to some blue-chip prospects from blue-collar backgrounds, and SMU gets the death penalty.

But Penn State’s brass, led by the beloved Joe Paterno, harbor alleged serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky for years (if not decades) and, well, nothing happens. At least nothing in the way of NCAA sanctions.

While the world tries to identify the assaulted children, Penn State is scoping Google trends, wondering how the team can garner good publicity before playing Ohio State. It’s as though the school weren’t just in a geographically obscure place, but also insulated from the laws of logic, reason, and righteousness.

According to a report yesterday from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, which was seconded by former Nittany Lion (and New York Giant) Brandon Short, Sandusky sat in the school president’s suite to watch Joe Paterno’s 409th win on October 29 – one week before he was arrested for sexually assaulting eight boys (which has now grown to ten). Even for a school now known for its startling ineptitude, this is a new low.

“How is Penn State supposed to know that Sandusky is about to be cuffed and coined the most disgusting creature in the republic?” you ask.

Well, because Paterno, along with the school’s president, athletic director, and assistant coach Mike McQueary, had already testified before the very grand jury that indicted Sandusky.

Which leads us to the question many of you might be asking…

Why does Penn State football still exist?

We know the answer, of course: Money. A good college football team is a gold mine, and gold mines spawn their own minions and bodyguards, suits scrambling to keep the conveyor belt churning out good players, wins, bowls, and bounty. And if any Kool-Aid guzzler tells you it’s about an earnest and honest attempt to develop student athletes, just show them a picture of Sandusky.

If SMU’s actions warranted the guillotine, what does enabling an alleged child molester deserve? The Mustangs’ malfeasance was seen as systemic corruption. They were warned on myriad occasions to keep their coin in their pockets, or else…

So, what do you call Penn State’s handling of Sandusky? You have that obscenely clandestine report conducted by the university in 1998. Then, miraculously, after being named Assistant Coach of the Year and Paterno’s presumed successor, Sandusky “retires” in 1999. So the school smelled this foul dog on their lawn and vaporized him. Yet Sandusky, despite the report, his firing, and the account of McQueary in 2002, is allowed on Penn State’s campus for years and years thereafter (often with kids), including that afternoon in October 2011.

LaVar Arrington, Penn State icon and de facto bandleader of the ornery chorus of former players who want accountability from their former school, has changed the team’s mantra from “We Are Penn State” to “We Are No More.” Arrington is urging current players to transfer from the cauldron of Penn State to… anywhere but there.

He’s right, but for the wrong reasons. Arrington is befuddled by the hiring of Bill O’Brien, whom we only know because Bill Belichick hired him. Arrington wanted interim coach Tom Bradley or some other Nittany Lion lifer to assume the reins, forgetting that company men and their shared omerta were the very problem that led to this scandal.

I don’t care if they hired Bill O’Brien, Bill O’Reilly, Vince Lombardi, or Tom Landry. Why would anyone care? The matter before the court of law, public opinion, and public decency is that of an evil man who roamed State College, using his charity and cherished position at Penn State to recruit and rape vulnerable boys with impunity (allegedly).

“Penn State and SMU are apples and oranges!”

Yes, they are. Penn State’s transgressions are historically violent and vulgar, whereas Southern Methodist was simply stupid. Mike McQueary marched into Joe Paterno’s house and told him what he saw Sandusky do in that shower. That, on the heels of the ’98 report, should have had Paterno speed-dialing detectives five minutes later. He didn’t, and you know the rest.

If the argument against sanctions is that SMU was a technical gaffe and Penn State is a legal gaffe, then I can’t process that paradox.

Maybe some semantic, technical, or legal swamp precludes the NCAA from punishing Penn State. The Paterno Apologists – and there are still alarming armies of you – will blast all of us who don’t bow to the beleaguered and, now, broken old coach. (Even women will call me every vulgarity in the book over this column, if my last few Penn State pieces are any indication.) I swore I’d never write about this story again because, frankly, I don’t need the abuse from cowards who hide behind handles, sniping from the comfort of cubicles and basements. By tonight there will be dozens of profane, misguided missives bulging from my inbox, branding me things I can’t repeat here. But Penn State, by dint of their deception, won’t let us leave them alone.

There are a lot of good people who teach and learn at Penn State. And there are good people who played and coached football. They don’t deserve to be inside the blast radius of this radioactive narrative. But someone they know probably knew something about Jerry Sandusky and didn’t say anything. And now everyone must pay something. We’re often asked to sacrifice for the greater good, from family to work to military service. Sandusky made State College too toxic for life to resume its collegial regality. There must be a few nuclear winters before the idyllic canvas returns to that campus.

We know on some level, at least in the abstract, that monsters exist. Sadly, we now know that otherwise respected – if not revered – people will protect monsters to protect themselves, a brand, and a way of life that the Sandusky scandal forever tainted. Had the right people said the right things ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago, this would have been seen as a rogue beast who allegedly burdened the world but was caught before he could do more harm. And more harm. And more harm. Think of how many kids could have been saved from a burial in his basement, from which no child emerges the same, or even sane.

There’s a simple question: Who knew? When asked, all who run that school scatter like roaches when the light flicks on, and a collective “No Hablo Ingles” echoes through Happy Valley. And when we’re told nobody knew, it means everybody knew. And thus, we reach a fork in the spiritual road. How culpable are they? It’s a question only you can answer, using a composite of moral compasses you acquire through the years. It’s hard for yours truly to separate the big monster from the little monsters that helped him.

There needs to be a Barry Goldwater approach to Penn State, at least to its football program. It dies. Now. It won’t, but it felt good demanding its death. This story, the people who allegedly protected Sandusky, knows no decency. Every time we reach bottom it reveals trap doors.

On some level, a sportswriter’s job is to romanticize sports, to italicize its iconic qualities, to make the simplest journey of 100 yards something Homeric. But some things just put sports in perspective, and make us feel childish for giving such gravitas to a game played by children. Some things are more important than the score.

Some will wonder how Penn State will fare on the football field over the next few years. I won’t. But I will wonder why it exists. And I will wonder why “Penn State” and “Football” will be used in the same sentence, while sentencing commences in State College.

Feel free to email me:

Should the NCAA shut down Penn State’s football program? Sound off below…

  • tngilmer

    PSU = Pedophile State University

  • Sully

    Irrational witch hunt?


    Protecting child molesters isn’t a no no in your eyes?

  • babserock

    Maybe if Tom Corbett would have arrested sandusky almost 4 years ago, instead of launching a Grand Jury investigation and left Sundusky on the streets, you wouldn’t have anything to write about or wait if Corbett had not petitioned for the then district attorney not to prosecute Sandusky in 1998, you wouldn’t have anything to write about. You are assuming that all of the people who testified at the GJ knew Sandasky was there. How did you get that infromation. I don’t know that anyone other than Curley knew he was there. I’m certain Joe Paterno didn’t have his cameras focused on the Presdients box, from the sidelines. And each that did testify at the GJ did not know what the other’s said. It is not customary to have witnesses present when other witnesses testify.

    • Sully

      I’m sure that if there was a problem with Sandusky, he wouldn’t have been let into the President’s Box

      But there wasn’t a problem with him
      He was a good coach
      And if he had sex with kids, that doesn’t matter to someone like Joe Paterno.

  • g short

    with the autho’rs logic, I ‘m looking for his article about

    WHY THERE IS STILL A CATHOLIC CHURCH. His logic is so sound and full of facts.
    He talks ablout alleged harboruing, with the church it is not alleged. Please direct me to that article.

    Utter garbage

    • Dale Munton

      The Boston Archdiosese should have been shut down.
      It is a criminal organization

    • JK

      Classic deflection. The Catholic Church has nothing to do with Penn State. Let’s talk Penn State, please…

  • R. Piazza

    The SEC will be fine. They have a pretty good coach of the name Saban down there. Those schools have a pretty good share of die hards who will always watch them and I’m a Ohio State die hard fan. The media attention makes complete sense think of how people gawk at car wrecks. I can’t think of a more spectacular car wreck then legendary coaching career ends in ugliest scandal imaginable. JK is doing his job writing about something we all keep gawking at.

  • Alex P.

    Instead of glibly and quite cowardly pecking quick one sentence jabs, those of you that are commenting that this is sensationalized, ridiculous, and “garbage” should explain the reasoning behind your claims because child sex abuse is a very pervasive and insidious issue, as Jason alluded. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, it is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Nearly a fifth of all these victims will develop serious long-term psychological problems, according to the American Medical Association. These high numbers cannot be ignored. We are talking about thousands, if not millions, of people for whom life will never be the same.

    These incidence rates mean that it is very likely that someone reading this article is a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Moreover, it is likely that someone in your own family or someone very close to you has suffered from sexual abuse as a child, though you may be unaware. When you say that this is ridiculous, you are looking nice, descent people in the face, who may have buried scars of sexual abuse, and you are telling them that their pain doesn’t matter as much as a football team.

    • Willie Green

      A media led lynch mob is a disgraceful method of obtaining “justice” for the alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse.

      • Alex P.

        …And how does your comment have anything to do with what I just said? A media lynch mob…hardly. Where you differ with most moral people is that you don’t think Penn State officials, including Paterno, should share in the blame for what happened. This article was calling attention to the fact that the NCAA is doing zip to Penn State over this. If a journalist is standing up and calling attention to that, that is what you might call NOBLE, not DISGRACEFUL.

        • Willie Green

          If you think advocating nuclear war and defending Joe McCarthy witch hunts is “NOBLE”, then yes, by all means, take the “Barry Goldwater approach to Penn State” that Jason Keidel suggests.

          It should provide younger readers with a timely history lesson as to why Goldwater lost the election to Johnson by what was then the largest margin in history.

          Witch hunts, lynch mobs and indiscriminate use of weapons of mass destruction are all disgraceful in civil society.

          Sportswriter Taliban like Jason Keidel need to stuff a sock in it.

          • Laslo

            Why be civil to the Ped State scandal?

            The problem is that it remained “too civil” and without prosecution for decades while a child molester roamed free all over the halls, offices and stadium of Ped State.

            Civililty could have been maintained had Ped State and police officials done the right thing decades ago.

            Now, Ped State, Sandusky and Joe Pa (in his silence) deserve no civility.

          • Sully

            So you have no problem with Joe Paterno who knew of Sandusky’s sexual activity with boys but never called the police and let him use Penn State facilities and be involved with his foundation for nearly a decade after confirming it?

            I am not putting words in your mouth
            That is your stance

            • Willie Green

              I think Joe Paterno appropriately informed the proper university officials who should have followed through better. Specifically, Paterno informed Gary Schultz, who headed campus police. If you want to crucify somebody for dropping the ball, it should be Schultz, not Paterno.

              But you don’t care about who is actually culpable in your witch-hunt, do you? The name “Gary Schultz” doesn’t grab big sensationalist headlines for you like “Joe Paterno” does.

          • Alex P.

            Willie, please get back on your meds.

            • Willie Green

              Did you read Keidel’s overblown hyperbole or not?

              I rest my case.

  • L.G

    This is garbage

    • JK

      It’s garbage because you went to Penn State? Or because you worship Joe Paterno?

  • Marc Weiss

    Bottom line is that the only kids that Paterno cared about were his kids who played for him every saturday afternoon. He could care less about the kids that Sandusky ruined. The program was always more important than what was morally right. Of course when did morals ever play into major college athletics anyway ?

    • Sully


    • A "Going Postal" Worker

      I am afraid that Marc is correct.

      I hope that Sandusky ends up slumped on a jail cell floor, with a “shank” protruding from his forehead.

  • Michael McFarland

    no mention of ESPN and Bernie Fine?? guess Jason is petitioining for a job at ESPN.

    • JK

      I guess you’ve not read my columns today. No one loathes the plagiaristic, jaded “journalists” at the “Worldwide Leader” more than I do…

      • JK

        *before today, that is…

  • J.H.

    This might be…no it is the most ridiculous and sensationalized article I have ever read.

    • Willie Green

      The title of this article shoud be “The Sad State of CBS Sports”

      With Urban Meyer taking the helm at Ohio State and Bill O’Brien at Penn State, they fear that the Big Ten will attract a larger national audience away from the SEC.

      How else can you explain the irrational witch hunt?
      Follow the money.

      • Lazlo

        Willie is a Ped State/Joe Pa fan. And a Sandusky enabler.

        It’s disgusting followers like you Willie and your apologists buddies that have worshipped tis false idol, Joe Pa, that led to this type of coverup.

        Your unwillingness to question the very leaders of Ped State now is a sad testiment to your lack of character and moral compass.

        Your failure to admit to gross negligence by Ped State and Joe Pa has left you a sad, sad failure. You and those like you are the reason this went untreated for so long. You and your university football program (and Joe Pa) are a malignant cancer.

        • JK

          I appreciate your desire to defend me, Taf and Laz, but “Gurley” – yet another Paterno Apologists hiding behind a handle – isn’t interested in truth. You’ll notice she didn’t address one sentence in my column nor my assertion that Penn State did nothing to stop Sandusky.

          Let’s assume the AG was inaccurate and I’ve mistaken it for the truth. What does that have to do with Paterno and his minions’ collective stagnation over Sandusky? Paterno was the most powerful person at Penn State, State College, and the state of Pennsylvania. Yet his top lieutenant was raping boys for decades and Paterno did nothing to stop it.

          This is the man “Gurley” is defending. Unless I misunderstand her and she’s saying Sandusky is innocent and thus there are no crimes to conceal. Then we must call someone to get her some help. No doubt she’s also quite proud to see Sandusky in the school president’s suite a week before he was cuffed. Or am I wrong about that, too? No doubt those 50 counts from the grand jury are all false…

          How can any sane person defend the apparatus that allowed a serial child rapist to roam the region with impunity?

      • JK


        Are you saying Sandusky is innocent?

        Are you saying Joe Paterno and his acolytes at Penn State did all they could to stop Sandusky?

        In fact, they did NOTHING to stop Sandusky. It was a local high school that blew the whistle on the child rapist, not “JoePa” and the rest…

        • Gurleygirl

          Wrong my dear JK, the high school did not report anything, which it was mandated, by law, to do. The mother of victim 1 reported the incident to child protective services in SPITE of the high school principle’s “suggestion” to” go home and think about how reporting this would negatively impact your family”. The AG, Linda Kelley, misspoke when she credited the high school . The mother of victim 1 was so angered about the misrepresentation, she spoke out and gave an in-depth interview to Sara Ganim of the Patriot-News,published Nov7,2011. You can find it on, I suggest you read it !

          • Tafsperson

            I guess I’m missing something. JK may have misspoke by relying on the information given by the AG when she misspoke but how does that change that the abuse of many young men could have been avoided had Penn State taken a strong stand against what Sandusky was doing back when this first came to their attention. Shame on the high school principal who even suggested the victim’s mother go home and think!! It is exactly that attitude that lets child molestors roam free. Well over 80% of those who molest children are people they trust – family members, family friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and clergy. How do we tell our children to report it if someone touches them when we are more concerned with the embarrassment of the situation and protecting the offender?? As for the NCAA, they are laughable at best.

    • Sully

      How so?

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