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Coach Joe Paterno Vindicated

While there is a lot to learn from the Penn State – Jerry Sandusky debacle, such as adults should do common sense things, and adults should not rush to judgment, etc., there is one thing that has emerged from the recent trials involving former PSU president Graham Spanier and former assistant football coach Mike McQueary (who just hours ago won yet more millions of dollars from Penn State): Coach Joe Paterno was totally innocent.

Recall that legendary head football coach Joe Paterno was wrongly blamed for the actions and then results of past assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s mass child molesting ways. The whole thing was correctly a shock, but everyone who was around Sandusky was blamed. Hell, I think the board of trustees even tried to blame a janitor, no lie. The infamous Louis Freeh report was issued, one of the great works of bad fiction, and Joe Paterno was summarily fired.

The man had devoted himself to Penn State, to the improvement of college sports, to the improvement of college athaletics, to the novel idea that a gifted college athlete could also receive a quality education and go on to have a meaningful and successful career after college football, including (gasp) those athletes who did not make it into the NFL.

This is novel, because 99.8% of college football teams are like puppy mills, where young men are used up in a short term quest for wonderful ratings and glamour. It’s a pile of crap and it is wrong. Only Coach Joe Paterno and a couple others (Coach Lou from Notre Dame, of course) stood against that sick tide.

And that is why Coach Joe Paterno was pilloried in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.

Not because Paterno had done anything wrong, by act or by omission, but because he stood so far above everyone else around him. As college sports standards sank lower and lower, Joe stood for old fashioned values like hard work, earning your way, mentorship, patriotism, community, and all the other quaint values and ideas that are passe when so much money and fame are to be made.

So Paterno was fired early into the Sandusky scandal, by a spineless PSU board of trustees scared of its own shadow and lacking in the bravery and honesty that had marked Joe’s entire life, when he answered his front door on a weekend morning.

The results of this week’s trials are a kind of trial of Joe Paterno in absentia. Had Spanier been found guilty of certain charges, then one might have been able to ascribe the same guilt to Joe. And had PSU prevailed against Coach McQueary, and not lost for the umpteenth time, each time costing PSU millions of dollars, then one might have been able to say that PSU was right in firing Joe because he had failed to act when learning that Sandusky was a monster.

But none of that happened. Yes, this week Spanier was found guilty of the misdemeanor of child endangerment. Given that everyone on Planet Earth now knows the facts surrounding this, this makes sense.

What does not make sense is how Paterno’s great name has not been cleared.

Fact: Paterno called Spanier on a Sunday morning, having heard from McQueary the night before that Sandusky was seen raping a little boy in the football locker room.

Fact: Spanier then went on to hush it all up because of his fear of bad press. Fact: Spanier is a slime; hell, we could tell that just by his appearance and demeanor. But it is now official.

And it is also official that McQueary was a good guy and did what he was supposed to do.

What has not yet been made official is that Coach Joe Paterno remains one of the best human beings to have ever played a role in American sports, and he was wrongly accused, wrongly persecuted, wrongly terminated, and wrongly maligned even after his death.

This week’s court results vindicate Coach Joe Paterno’s good name and reputation.

Now put his damned statue back up and name Old Main after him.

“Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game”…. gets me back in the game

Congratulations to the Penn State football team on its defeat of Wisconsin for the Big Ten conference title last night.

How strange that Ohio State is in the running for the national title, when they neither beat Penn State in the regular season (OSU lost to PSU), nor did they win their conference (PSU won it last night).

We are back in the familiar conundrum of old, where PSU got and still gets no respect. How many decades did PSU go winning, winning, and winning, but frequently blocked  from playing for the national title?

It is time to stop this unfairness and give to PSU what is their due: A shot at the national title. This requires making the OSU guys feel bad, which is nearly always what happened to PSU in the past. Sorry OSU, enjoy a shot of your own medicine.

After coach Joe Paterno was railroaded and publicly humiliated at PSU by a weak board and a weaker CYA-run administration that made former assistant coach Mike McQueery a wealthy man, my interest in PSU everything pretty much dropped to zero. I stopped watching the games, stopped caring, stopped donating to the university, and basically dropped PSU from my life. The cataclysmic Paterno auto de fe signaled a break from the core values and principles I had grown up with and identified with. I was no longer Penn State Proud.

That said a lot, because I grew up in the State College area, graduated from PSU, my mother has her PhD from PSU, and I attended PSU home games from the time I was seven until I left for Vanderbilt to pursue my career as an academic.  Plenty of our family have graduated from PSU, and watching Penn State football together during the holidays was a family tradition. I went to school with two of the Paterno kids and still maintain contact with one of them, the one I was closest to and spent the most time with. Time spent in the Paterno home listening to Coach Paterno recruit players shaped my own life. He was all about clean living.

Last night’s win over Wisconsin was meaningful to me not because PSU is back in the winning game, but because the fans, the alumni, the board (more on that pathetic, worthless PSU board of trust-less-ees in a moment) and the administration have given Coach Franklin the breathing room to resurrect the destroyed team from the ashes of annihilation at the hands of State Senator Jake Corman, disgraced pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA, former FBI head Louis Freeh (a great fiction writer), PSU administrators, and the worthless PSU board.

Coach Franklin needed the space and time to breathe new life into a program that always was and always should be top ten quality. He needed the kind of space and patience Paterno had received. Getting the damned names off the jerseys, and getting back to the no-frills basics of Black Shoes, Basic Blues, No Names, All Game. Getting this space marks somewhat of a return to normalcy, where professionals are allowed to be professionals. Professionalism was one of the former hallmarks of PSU football. Staid dedication and loyalty were once a hallmark of PSU administrative culture. The former players’ conservative, humble, and respectful approach to playing football always contrasted with the weak hotdogging that plagues the NFL and most college teams.

Shades of Coach Joe Paterno here. Might we be touching greatness again? I am looking.

So I am now finding myself maybe interested once again in PSU football. But not all football, because I am still boycotting the NFL – not one NFL game watched this season – due to the league’s support of anti-America player Colin Kaepernick. Thank you, PSU folks. This could be rewarding to me, as leaving PSU football was a sad time in my life.

Now, about the PSU Board of Trustees, that worthless aggregation of empty names that supposedly runs Penn State University.

Last week, Harrisburg businessman Alex Hartzler was appointed to the PSU board by Governor Wolf. Alex and I attended PSU together, and we were both active in politics there. We have stayed in touch for the past fifteen years. Alex’s entrance into the snake den is a bright spot, because simply put, Alex don’t give a sh*t about whatever crybaby weak stuff the other members are bringing in as fodder for their continued presence there.

Alex and I differ on almost every policy subject. He is one of the few Democrats I know to ever emerge from Lancaster County, and a farm boy at that. I am a Constitutional conservative who thinks the Republican Party is worthless, and also from Pennsylvania farm country. While Alex has maintained his partisan loyalty to one party, even as it was going over the cliff, he has always displayed a sharp and incisive intellect and tough attitude that brooks no bullcrap. I think Alex Hartzler is exactly the kind of person to help PSU get its act together. Yes, he will want policies on climate change junk science, same-sex bathrooms, and a bunch of other PC issues that I believe are unworthy of consideration let alone debate, but at the end of the day, I expect to see lightning bolts from the moribund board. Thank you, Alex.

Let’s get the PSU show back on the road.

409+

Last week, under pressure to perform at an adult, professional level, the senior staff at the NCAA folded right before appearing in court.

The discovery phase of a lawsuit brought against the NCAA for its disproportionate over-correction of Penn State University was about to begin, and with a handful of damning NCAA emails already in hand, the meaty part of discovery would have exposed the heavy handed NCAA overlords for what they are: Incompetent, vacuous bullies.

The fictional Louis Freeh “report” aka Hit Piece and Flaming Bomb Meant to Humble Penn State has gradually yielded to the collective bits of disbelief and basic deductive logic surrounding the Joe Paterno Assassination aka The Oxbow Incident.

Knowing now what we already knew two years ago, the NCAA storm trooper and tactical nuke assault on one of the very few pristine colleges in the nation has blown up in the NCAA’s own face.

Yes, we got our 409 wins back, but we deserve so much more.

And to have undergone so much knee-jerk reaction injustice…..Penn State deserves compensation, to be made whole, to get back what we lost, if it’s remotely possible.

I want blood.

I want guts.

I want a shred of public justice for Joe Paterno and Penn State, and for the student athletes immorally saddled with faux guilt from the sick, distant actions of a man they’d never met, let alone heard of (Jerry Sandusky).

To begin with, the Joe Paterno statue immediately goes back to its original prominent place on campus.

Then, every member of the PSU board involved in the debacle issues a personal, hand written apology. And then each resigns. I’ve got a few names to go with that demand.

Then each NCAA staff member associated with the debacle issues a hand written apology, and then resigns.

That’s what real leaders do when they fail badly.

And for those folks who really want to demonstrate their earnest attitude, I’ve got some old Japanese swords you can fall on. I’m tempted to serve as your second….to ensure a clean ending, of course.

A clean ending to a tragedy, a failure to protect little boys, a failure to act like grown men and women and apply justice carefully, a failure to protect the grown boys on the team and the many professional educators and students unfairly tarnished by the NCAA’s hasty, shoot-first-ask-questions-never attitude.

And then there’s the scholarships, the bowl money PSU lost. The opportunities unfairly crushed. How do we get all that back?

And Mr Louis Freeh, you may be ex-FBI, but I’m ex-Penn State Nittany Lion. Don’t meet me in a dark alley.

Penn State Football deserves its wins back

The NCAA over-reached in its punishment of Penn State and its football program.

Some of the punishment has been reversed.

But Penn State still deserves to get their winning record back.  Those wins had zero to do with Jerry Sandusky’s pedophilia.

Many of us PSU almni suspect that the NCAA aimed to hurt Joe Paterno, the Paterno Way, and his football records.  The NCAA seemed disinterested in actual justice.  Poking holes in heroes makes everyone else equal.

NCAA, you owe us our record back.  Give us back our wins.

 

AG Kane exonerates Corbett with backhanded, ironic report

PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane “exonerated” Governor Tom Corbett with the most back-handed investigative report seen in a long time.

While acknowledging that Corbett, previously as AG himself, investigating Jerry Sandusky, did not politicize the Sandusky investigation, Kane still called Corbett’s choices in that investigation “inexcusable” and “inexplicable.”

Without question Penn Staters like me, who have followed the Sandusky debacle from beginning to end, we tend to feel like Penn State’s reputation never was considered by anyone involved.  Well, it was the paramount consideration by former PSU president Graham Spanier, at a time when the school’s reputation should not have mattered at all, and the kid victims’s interests should have been advanced immediately and at any cost.

So, too little, too late for Penn State by everyone, including a majority of the PSU trustees, Louis Freeh, and state officials everywhere.  If Corbett was guilty of failing to jump to Penn State’s defense, he was in damned good company.  Pissed at Corbett? OK, then be pissed at many of the sitting trustees.

But what irks me is to see the most politicized AG in Pennsylvania’s history use the words “inexcusable” and “inexplicable.”

Kane’s behavior in the AG office has been both of those words and much much more.

My favorite misdeed is how she refused to pursue the unethical PA Liquor Control Board members, whose financial misdeeds have been widely reported.

What has not been reported is how her family, Kane Trucking, holds PLCB contracts worth millions of dollars.  Kane’s failure to apply the law here could be due to a large financial incentive for her to not rock the PLCB gravy boat.  Is anyone investigating THAT?

No.  In fact, the establishment media has circled the wagons around Kane, with not one word yet mentioned in print about this ethical lapse of hers.  In fact, a fawning, fluffy, cheerful, supportive interview with Kane was posted by the Patriot News two weeks ago, and worse yet, by reporter Charles Thompson, a writer I have long considered one of the last real investigative reporters in Harrisburg.  Thompson made no mention of any of Kane’s lapses, or of her pending impeachment, in that unpaid advertising piece run by the Patriot News.  She was even photographed laughing away, her head held high, her artificially white teeth flashing for the camera.

While people are still asking if Kane’s report on Corbett’s role as AG has any salience for the governor’s race, what informed citizens want to know, is: Why does it appear that Kathleen Kane is protecting Kane Trucking’s PLCB contracts?  Now that is a real public policy question worth asking.

409

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno won 409 genuine college games.  No one can take that away from him, the players, the team staff, or the proud PSU alumni, like me.

Child molester Jerry Sandusky is a scumbag, but the football program had zero to do with his crimes.  But it was the football program the NCAA punished, disproportionately to any other football program in American history.  Using Sandusky’s association (not employment) with the PSU football program, and Louis Freeh’s horrendously unprofessional report (analyzed in detail on this site) to support its blitzkrieg assault on Penn State, the NCAA coerced PSU trustees and incompetent, spineless top PSU staff to sign the consent decree that unfairly punished the football program.

Enter the courts, where facts actually can matter.  And thus we have courts that are correctly beginning to cast doubts on the entire NCAA punishment of PSU football.  This week a court held that further inquiry is necessary to determine if the NCAA not only operated consistent with its own charter, but also consistent with the facts of the Sandusky case vis-a-vis PSU football.

Daylight is seeping in, and I do not believe that the NCAA will survive the exposure, or the application of basic logic and rules of fairness.

Joe Paterno, my hero, had 409 Wins to his credit.  Those wins remain, no matter what, but hopefully they will soon be reinstated after basic due process for ALL of the victims of Sandusky’s crimes.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane actually drops investigation against her political buddies

An overwhelming number and percentage of Pennsylvanians voted for a new PA Attorney General in 2012, to the point where a record spread was achieved.

Democrat Kane beat Republican Freed by 15%, an unheard of, unimaginable number.

The primary reason that so many Republican voters voted for Kane was that she was seen as clean, fresh, a new antidote to the deeply insider Freed and the same-old-gang of Good Ol’ Boy Republicans who had controlled that office since its creation in the early 1980s.  The Penn State – Sandusky scandal really hurt the Republicans in so many ways, and Kane was seen as the snake oil potion that would solve all of the problems, aches, worries, unfairness, baldness, and gout that was then plaguing Pennsylvania and Penn State.

Enter Kane the politician.  Wow.  If you had any questions about her political abilities and inclinations, wonder no more.  She has proven herself to be as adaptable as a chameleon, and as trusty as a rake left tines-up in the grass.

Last Friday (never a strong day for media, so always a strong day for government news releases seeking minimal coverage of their actions), Kane officially terminated a three-year-long investigation of a bunch of obviously corrupt elected officials in Philadelphia.  Caught on tape and camera taking bribes, these officials set the gold standard for how to make a great city fall to pieces.

But only days after she announced an indictment against a black state senator from the Philly area, Kane determined that there are “too many African Americans” involved in this sting, and that it is therefore racially biased.  No kidding.  Obviously, any future mob take-downs will be thrown out because too many white guys are involved, right?  This is both an embarrassing example of the bad government caused by Political Corrrectness, and an embarrassing example of the corruption of AG Kane.

Look, lady, either someone behaves legally, or not.  Either someone breaks the law, or not.  Skin color has zero to do with it.  And if skin color becomes the new standard for applying laws, then the country is going down the tubes, quick, because there’s a lot more Caucasian people overall, and more crime committed by Caucasians, than anyone else.  Allowing all that crime to move forward because we want to apply some vague, bizarre notion of “fairness” will allow crime to take over.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Kane has proven herself to be just as political, just as capable of bad decisions as anyone else could have been in the AG seat.  That honeymoon was short.

 

Questions you’re not supposed to ask #3

Why is Penn State University exempt from state open records laws?

Yes, PSU lobbied for this exemption, but who cares?  Who would actually grant that?

And I ask as a faithful, loving, loyal PSU alum.

Penn State Pain

Players names on football jerseys just does not compute. Feeling mucho pain over the NCAA atomic bomb on PSU’s football program, watching games the past couple of years has been tough to do. Am I a loyal PSU alum? Sure. But with superlame trustees, the school has given up on nearly all it stood for over the past five decades. If the trustees don’t care, why should I fight so hard to clear Paterno’s name and values? And why should I be expected to cheer on something a mere shadow of its former self?

The Joe Paterno Empire Strikes Back

The family of late Penn State University football coach, icon, leader, and hero Joe Paterno has struck back at the “investigative” report by former US FBI director Louis Freeh.

Releasing an analysis of Freeh’s report that is similar to one posted on this blog last year (http://joshfirst.com/blog/2012/08/16/the-sandusky-disaster-kids-lose-penn-state-loses-ncaa-loses-theres-still-no-lesson-here/), the Paternos have taken an important step in regaining lost ground.

Lost ground was rapidly created by an uncritical press, willing to serve up maudlin caricatures of what may have happened around convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky, rather than carefully scrutinize the facts and evidence we have in front of us, and then wait for the facts and evidence that we do not have but yet expect to see come out in the upcoming trials of Spanier, Curley, and Shultz.

A rush to judgment has never been so well documented, and then so well defended by a sea of armchair quarterbacks using 20/20 hindsight. Analyzing the comments on internet sites, like Forbes, ESPN, and any other reporting or opinion venue, you’d think that Joe Paterno was the real culprit, and not Sandusky.

Freeh’s report is as bad as a report can get. It is more representative of a Kremlin kangaroo court than the best America has to offer. After a career-start seven-year stint in Washington, DC, spent writing federal policy and law, my take on the Freeh report is that it is outrageously flawed.

Its worst defect is its use of wild conjecture (e.g. relying on hearsay in one email from Tim Curley to Graham Spanier and Gary Shultz about an unnamed “coach”). Nowhere does it say “While key facts are lacking or presently unknown, it is prudent to await casting judgment….” Rather, Freeh’s report is judge, jury, and executioner all at once, and it clearly aimed to destroy one person: Joe Paterno.

Importantly, Freeh’s report exonerated the sitting PSU trustees, most of whom had sat idly by and never challenged Spanier, even when one or two trustees began to ask him hard questions. Were those lazy trustees culpable? Why not?

Most important, Freeh was used by PSU and the NCAA to lower the standards bar, to decrease expectations in college football, rather than to elevate them. By arguing that Joe Paterno was deeply flawed and a hypocrite, Freeh made the classic morally relative argument that we are all pathetic losers, that there are no real heroes, that there are no really good men, and that no one should expect any to show up anytime soon.

Finally, if the PSU trustees fell down on the job and used the Freeh report to cover up their failings, one cannot escape the sense that at least some of the Paterno family members do not grasp the positive way that Joe Paterno is still viewed by many of us Nittany Nation members.

Last year, while communicating with one of the Paterno kids, I was struck by his inability or unwillingness to recognize the breadth of Joe’s legacy. That is, if Joe Paterno left a legacy, then it is beyond the family to solely claim, because it is carried by his believers. Joe’s legacy belongs to all of us, because he was representative of all of our values, hopes, and expectations, and our support is not about the family, but about the symbol that was Joe Paterno.

To that end, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see the family rally the troops, rather than look so deeply inward. Casting the Freeh report as a culture war attack on rare core values, rather than on a person, would more accurately frame this subject.

Unlike the vast majority of people with an opinion on this subject, I have actually read the Freeh report. It sucks. It is unprofessional. It is unworthy of Louis Freeh’s name, and it is unworthy of Penn State University’s name. It is nearly useless in understanding all of what happened with Jerry Sandusky, and how he continued to molest and rape little boys when some adults around him either suspected or had been told he was a pedophile. Shedding light on 33% of an issue raises more questions than it answers. Truth is not what was sought, but it is what is at stake. Bigger truths, like traditional core values that are under attack everywhere, suffer from this.

So, it is my hope that the Paterno family, and former governor and US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, will continue their efforts, and also expand them to encompass the bigger picture. Good luck, folks, we are standing with you.