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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.

People we’ve lost, then and now, still shape us

Days ago, my next door neighbor was riding bikes with his son, and he had an accident. The trauma to his head was so significant that he died yesterday, never waking up from his injury.

Doctor Jerry Luck was a hell of a nice man, and I’m very sorry he is gone. Planet Earth is a much poorer place without Jerry among us. Our condolences to his wife Kathi and their two children.

Tonight I attended a regular meeting at the Duncannon Sportsmen’s Association, where club president Carl Fox pours his endless love, energy, and devotion to recruiting new hunters, fishermen, and outdoor enthusiasts. Sitting next to me was an elderly Mr. Foultz, a name I dimly recalled.

Turns out, Mr. Foultz is from Pine Grove Mills, a small village near where I grew up. Many summer days I walked barefoot from the deep farm country across the semi-developed farm country closer to State College, to play with friends in Pine Grove Mills.

Sitting on his porch there, forty years ago, was a grumpy, quiet old man we knew as Indian Joe. He was reputed to be an actual Indian, he certainly looked dark skinned and “ethnic,” and in a location as rural and frontier-like as that area was back then, he was as good and as real and as exciting as a person could be. Indian Joe was a touchstone for the old frontier days that we could still feel and see and touch, like when someone’s dad would find an old 1790s or 1820s flintlock rifle stashed away in a barn, and people would come to see it and hold it.

Indian Joe was a central feature of many Penn State homecoming parades on College Avenue, often dressed in a nice suit and a Plains Indian feather bonnet, riding in a convertible Cadillac behind Coach Joe Paterno. Indian Joe would grumble at me when I was a kid pestering him on his porch for stories of the old frontier days.

When I asked Mr. Foultz tonight if he knew Indian Joe, and what his real last name was, I received a long and flattering description of Indian Joe.

No, he was not Shawnee, nor Delaware, nor Conestoga, nor Onandaga, nor any other local tribe. Joe was Menominee, from Wisconsin.

Turns out, Old Joe had served in the American Armed Forces, met a young woman in Baltimore, married, and moved back to her home town of Pine Grove Mills. His real last name was something like Gonfer, as it sounded to me.

Pine Grove Mills was also the location of the first girl I had a crush on, Billy Jo. We hunted together as kids, and even then she was beautiful to look at, and kind. She was a hell of a shot, too, and killed deer sooner and faster than I did.

So elderly Mr. Foultz and I went on a memory spree tonight, naming places and people from decades ago. The Artz’s Arco, where I bought my hunting licenses from age twelve through twenty, was where he worked Saturdays as a teenager. And so on. Mind you, dear reader, Pine Grove Mills had a total population of about 250 people back then, and probably a bit more today. Still surrounded by farms and State Forest, it is the epitome of Small Town Pennsylvania, something I regularly celebrate.

So, kind thoughts to old Indian Joe, long gone from his porch and from Joe Paterno PSU homecoming parades down the middle of our quaint town, and sad but good thoughts to Doctor Jerry, whose kind and gentle demeanor will be hugely missed today and for decades to come.

Takeaway? People shape us constantly, from our earliest days to our hoary old age of fifty. It’s good and proper that we should be shaped, and honed, sharper and better, by the people around us, as time marches on.

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.

 

Forget sexy issues like “climate change,” let’s solve real environmental threats

By Josh First

Pennsylvania’s forests are suffering from a one-two punch-out by both invasive bugs and pathogens that kill our native and very valuable trees, and then by a following host of invasive vines, shrubs, trees, and other plants that are filling the void left after the big natives are gone.

Today yet another bulletin arrived from PSU plant pathology / forestry researchers, noting that ‘sudden-oak-death disease’ was detected on a shipment of rhododendron from Oregon.

Oregon got it from Asia.

Pennsylvania’s forests are becoming full of non-native, invasive plants, bugs, and pathogens. Each of our valuable tree species now has its own specific attackers. God knows what our native forests will look like in ten years.

The Asian emerald ash borer is literally making ash trees go extinct as a species. I see whole stands of forest, hundreds of acres, where not one ash tree is healthy. Dutch Elm disease killed off most of our elms in the 1980s. An Asian fungus killed off the once incredible and mighty American chestnut tree. Forget pathogens and bugs, because lots of aggressive, fast-growing invasive plants are taking up room on the forest floor, pushing out and overwhelming needed native plants. Few if any animals eat the invasives, which are often toxic and low value.

Human-caused climate change?  It is a sexy political issue, and it is highly debatable. But forest destruction from non-native invasives is a real, tangible, non-debatable, non-politicized issue we need to address immediately. So many people and wild animals depend upon our native forests, that without them, our rural economies could dramatically fall and our wildlife could disappear.

Forester Scott Cary had this to say, tongue somewhat in cheek: “With the 1000 cankers disease in Walnut now in southeast Pennsylvania, that area is quarantined…maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on black birch and red maple [low-value native species long observed to be acting like aggressive, non-native invasives, and therefore harvested aggressively by responsible forest managers], that may be all we have left to choose from. Of course, Asian long-horned beetle may get the maple, so that leaves us black birch, the tree of the future.”

That is a sad place to be, folks.  And to think that so much money is wasted selling the phony issue of human-caused climate change, while real environmental disasters are actually happening…it shows you just how dedicated the environmental Left is to political dominance, not useful solutions to environmental problems.

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.

Corbett’s Ten Percent challenge

Looking at the statewide vote results (votes Corbett received compared to votes Jim Cawley received) and at counties where Bob Guzzardi appeared on the ballot opposite governor Tom Corbett, it appears there’s about ten percent of Republican voters who are seriously disaffected with Corbett.

These are the voters who could not bring themselves to vote for Corbett, even while voting for other Republicans, or who actively wrote in alternative names.  York County has a surprisingly high number of about 25%.

Are these the angry Penn Staters, whose murky ghost has been hovering in Corbett’s background since the fictional Louis Freeh report sank the beloved institution known as Joe Paterno, and took down his creation (PSU), too?  Corbett seemed to join in the blaming of Paterno for the predations of Jerry Sandusky, or at least his actions and statements left many Penn Staters wondering if he did. 

Or are these voters associated with some of Corbett’s better known “Oopsy” moments, like personally standing at a lectern, reading glasses and pencil in hand, roll-call strong arming the Republican State Committee into reluctantly endorsing Steve Welch for US Senate. Republican voters later overwhelmingly rejected the very urban, effete Welch, and embraced muddy boots, down to earth coal miner Tom Smith.

Maybe these are voters affiliated with people who were once close to Corbett, but who did not see ‘promises kept’ at the personal level.

It’s impossible now to know exactly who these voters are, and whether or not they can be brought back into the Republican fold in time for November’s general election.  Plenty of polls, voter surveys, and canvassing are going to occur in the coming weeks, in search of the necessary mix of voters to get Corbett into his second term.

One thing is for sure: In Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania, Corbett wins only with a fully unified Republican party behind him. Right now, he’s got real work to do to achieve that.

Un-Citizen Kane, going down in flames

PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane was voted in with a huge amount of Republican voter support.  Her promise of cleaning up what appeared to be a political mess at Penn State and the AG’s office brought cheer to the sad hearts of PSU alumni and good government advocates alike.

Once in office, her mask was removed and the political animal now known as Un-Citizen Kane took control.  Promise de damned.  Promises be damned.  Her growing war with Philly DA Seth Williams over her politically motivated ending of a AG investigation of corrupt politicians is getting worse.  Kane challenged Williams to bring his own charges on the case, but when he asked Kane to provide the records, she says No.  Un-Citizen Kane looks politically motivated in all the wrong ways for all the wrong reasons.

If anything, Kane is digging her own grave hole, and making Williams look like a worthy challenger to her AG role in a couple years.

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.