Penn State Community Shaken By Sex Abuse Scandal

The tainting of JoePa’s legacy

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How do you define a man who for 60-plus years has been an institution bigger in some respects than the institution of higher learning that employs him?  Prior to last Friday, summing up what Joe Paterno meant to the isolated, idyllic Penn State campus would’ve been easy: everything.

Now, the answer is much more muddled, much more tainted.

JoePa, as he’s affectionately known, is the first man most people think of when they hear Penn State, a reaction that will likely continue long after the shock of his retirement Wednesday subsides.  As football programs around the country faced off-field scandal after scandal spanning multiple decades, Paterno was the moral compass Nittany Lion Nation — hell, college football as a whole — knew they could count on to never lead them astray even as the sport was seemingly hurtling toward some sort of gridiron Sodom and Gomorrah.  When it came to that program, you knew what you were going to get: players clad in beautifully-bland uniforms being led by a man girded with impeccable character and straight-out-of-the-fifties glasses.  And a moral fiber that was above reproach.

It wasn’t just Penn State football that has been Joe Paterno since Lyndon Johnson was sitting in the Oval Office.  Penn State, the university, has been Joe Paterno.

After what’s transpired the past five days, the facade of integrity that took more than a half-century to build has been shattered and perhaps irreparably damaged by the child-sex abuse scandal that’s saddened and sickened even the most hardened of observers.  The memories of a program that did things the right way led by a man who ensured things were done the right way?  Replaced to a large degree by the horrifying images contained in the grand jury’s 40-count indictment of Jerry Sandusky, the former Paterno assistant who was once among the coach’s most trusted lieutenants.

Merriam-Webster defines the word “legacy” as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”  On paper, what he’s leaving behind is undeniable and untouchable: 409 wins, the most in Div. 1 history, as well as two national championships and multiple coach-of-the-year awards.  One of just a handful of BcS conference schools — Stanford, Northwestern and Boston College being the others — to never have been found guilty of a major violation in football.  Consistently graduating a higher percentage of his football players than the vast majority of football programs around the country.

That’s a black-and-white football legacy likely never to be equaled.  The gray area outside of anything that can be measured statistically, the DNA that makes up one’s moral fiber?  That gray area as it pertains to Paterno is a moving target, hard to grasp in the immediacy of a moment with still many more questions than answers.

The gruesome details have been repeated ad nauseam since their release late last week, but the singular question remains: why didn’t Coach Paterno go to the authorities when it became clear the administration was going to sweep under the rug the allegations of on-campus sodomizing witnessed by one his grad assistants and perpetrated by his former heir apparent?  And this isn’t about using the power Paterno had built over the decades to run roughshod over the legal system and play judge, jury and executioner.  This is about the moral responsibility of a human being, about a man — one who dedicated his life to raising up and protecting kids entrusted to him — failing miserably when the opportunity to protect even younger, more defenseless kids arose by doing nothing more than the bare minimum required under the law.

With authority comes responsibility.  With responsibility comes accountability.  Of all the times Paterno failed to win on a football field, his failure to live up to everything he preached for over the years– holding himself, his players and his program to a higher standard — is his biggest loss, his biggest failing.  The accountability that was a bedrock of the man was lost, as was the innocence of any subsequent victims.  He failed everything he stood for when he sat down and did nothing more than what was sufficient in the eyes of the law.

With the 20/20 hindsight available even at his advanced age, Paterno can see how miserably he, and undoubtedly many others, failed those children.

“It is one of the great sorrows of my life… I wish I had done more,” a portion of Paterno’s retirement announcement read.

The failure is not Paterno’s alone, certainly.  The laundry list of Penn State officials and those associated with Sandusky’s children’s charity who could’ve done something, anything to prevent further victims from the tentacles of an alleged pedophile is sickening in its length, and those people should be relieved of their duties as well.  That doesn’t, however, absolve Paterno of the culpability for his inaction.  It’s an embarrassing stain on an otherwise impeccable record both on and off the field that won’t, and shouldn’t, be forgotten.

Certainly all the good he’s done for the players he calls “his kids” cannot be erased, nor can all he’s done for the community or the sport be minimized or tossed to the side.  And certainly there’s far, far more good deeds in the numerical sense than bad, even as the bad as we currently know it reaped unimaginable consequences for numerous innocent children and outweighs in the minds of some any good for which he’s directly responsible.

Joe Paterno, the football coach, and Joe Paterno, the man, have always been intertwined, walking in lockstep as the model of what amateur athletics on and off the field should be.  Right or wrong, the scandal that ultimately forced the ouster of a coaching legend is part of his legacy forevermore; how big a part of his legacy is up to the writer or reader of the whole of the narrative.

For me, it’s merely a reminder that human beings, great and small, are fallible.  Even, and especially, those that cast as large of a shadow as Coach Paterno.

Unfortunately for JoePa, and much more so for the victim at the time and those that came after, the fallibility that surfaced in 2002 had unintended but nonetheless tragic consequences.  That’s something Coach Paterno will have to live with for however many more years God grants him on this earth.

And that is a hell of a lot more damaging and painful to a man with not many breaths left than any rewrite of his legacy could ever be.

Penn State football coaches one-up Mike Gundy’s wrestling singlet effort

Photo: James Franklin/Twitter
James Franklin/Twitter
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Over the weekend, there was a high-profile college wrestling match in Stillwater between traditional powers Oklahoma State and Penn State. In an effort to spread the word and encourage fans to pack the arena for the competition, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy shot a quick promo video wearing a wrestling singlet that was a massive viral hit.

The turnout for the matchup was as expected, but Penn State went home with the victory. That led James Franklin and his entire football coaching staff to one-up Gundy’s effort as they congratulated Penn State’s wrestling program. Franklin shared an image of the entire staff wearing Penn State wrestling uniforms during a meeting.

You have to love the offseason.

Should Penn State and Oklahoma State ever meet on the football field, let us just hope the wrestling coaches at both schools pull off a similar stunt in football pads and helmets.

Investors ask San Diego State to pay $100 million for Qualcomm Stadium renovation plan

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 05:  The Aztec Warrior mascot of the San Diego State Aztecs awaits the opening ceremonies prior to playing the Mountain West Championship game against the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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San Diego State is being asked by a group of investors to put up half the cost to renovate the Qualcomm Stadium site. The $100 million expense may sound pricey for the school, but the school would he handed the keys to the stadium after five years.

New stadium renderings for the proposed renovation plan for Qualcomm Stadium site were recently released in San Diego as the work to reshape the stadium and surrounding area moves forward after losing the NFL’s Chargers to Los Angeles. San Diego State still has two years remaining on its lease with Qualcomm Stadium and the university has made it clear it is working to hash out a long-term future for the football program. The most popular idea has been to partner in a plan to construct a 30,000-seat stadium that could also host Major League Soccer.

According to a report from CBS 8 in San Diego, the total cost of the proposed renovation that includes a stadium overhaul and development of shops, restaurants, bars and housing for San Diego State students, is $200 million. FS Investors is asking the university to put up $100 million to help with the upfront cost of the project, and after five years the firm would hand over the keys to the stadium. That would allow San Diego State to own the stadium and manage it and anything that occurs in it. While that does put a burden on the budget for San Diego State, what needs to be determined is if San Diego State can turn a profit running the stadium after retaining ownership of it.

Between MLS games and live entertainment that could be hosted in the stadium, it seems San Diego State may be able to keep the budget in the black, and if that is the case then this may turn out to be a good deal for the university, even if it takes a few years to recoup its $100 million investment.

Nearly three dozen teams show interest in Clemson grad transfer

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass under pressure from Scott Pagano #56 of the Clemson Tigers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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It was expected there would be a significant market for a Clemson defensive lineman leaving the Tigers as a graduate transfer. Suffice to say, that is indeed the case.

This past week, Dabo Swinney‘s football program confirmed that Scott Pagano would be leaving the team and transferring elsewhere. The head coach also revealed that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.

Teams in that part of the country are indeed interested in the one-year rental, as are myriad others as 247Sports.com is reporting that 32 made contact with the lineman in the hours after his impending pending departure was announced. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, USC, Washington and Hawaii are among the teams out west who have expressed interest.

A handful of Power Five programs further east have expressed interest as well, including Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas and Texas A&M. Group Five teams that have shown interest include Charlotte, East Carolina, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, SMU, Temple and Utah State.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Ex-Miami, current Charlotte QB Kevin Olsen arrested on felony rape charges

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Kevin Olsen #2 of the Charlotte 49ers throws a pass in the second quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 24, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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It was thought that Kevin Olsen had hit rock bottom a couple of years ago.  Based on what transpired earlier today, it’s time to rethink that stance.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Olsen was arrested Sunday afternoon on multiple charges.  Specifically, the Charlotte 49ers quarterback was charged with felony second-degree forcible rape, cyberstalking, assault on a female and second-degree forced sex.

From the Observer‘s report:

A statement released by UNC Charlotte said that the allegations against Olsen “appear to involve sexual assault within an existing relationship.”

UNC Charlotte said it had been in communication with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police following the arrest Sunday afternoon. Allegations in the case stemmed from an incident that occurred off campus, the university said, but provided no details.

As a result of the arrest, Olsen has been suspended by his latest football program.

The younger brother of former Hurricanes standout and current Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, Kevin Olsen was a four-star member of Miami’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country.

In September of 2014, Olsen was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and possession of a stolen or fictitious driver’s license following a traffic stop. That off-field misstep came a month and a half after it was reported Olsen would be suspended for the opener, reportedly for failing a drug test.

In mid-September, after the arrest and on the heels of what were multiple suspensions, UM announced that Olsen was “no longer a student at the University of Miami.” In December of 2014, Olsen announced that he would be transferring to Towson; he was kicked off that team for violating unspecified team rules before he ever played a down for the FCS program.

After spending the 2015 season at a California junior college, Olsen transferred to Charlotte.  Olsen passed for 842 yards and six touchdowns in his first, and potentially only, season with the 49ers this past year.