Friday, June 15, 2012
The Bare Minimum
The Jerry Sandusky trial should have its first half over on Monday when the prosecution rests and the defense begins. As more details have come out about this case, the more disgusted I am not only with him but the whole Penn State football and administrative staff. There are so many instances where the Penn State powers that be could have stepped in and ended this before Sandusky victimized any more children but they chose not too. Instead they tried to cover it up or just do the bare minimum.
Joe Paterno was the most powerful man in State College, Pennsylvania. All he had to do was ask for something and it would be done. We have heard countless stories of his generosity and great character. He always seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty for his players, fans, and coaches. But when he was approached by his then Graduate Assistant Mike McQueary of a heinous act occurring inside his own football facility, he did the bare minimum.
Paterno followed protocol and talked to his superior about the sexual assault of a young boy and never followed it up. This assault occurred in 2002. Sandusky didn't get caught until 2011. I'm sure that during many of his fall camps in State College he called upon his players to give an extraordinary effort and push themselves farther than they thought they could go. Give the maximum effort and push past that. But when a defining moment came into his life on that day in 2002, Paterno gave the bare minimum.
I will always think that Joe Paterno was an excellent football coach and a man who should have been admired. But this huge dark mark on his record will never go away. His name and Sandusky's will always be linked together because of what occurred in 2011. Paterno was content in coaching the Nittany Lions until he died. He thought he had earned the right to exit on his own terms. But Paterno should have known back in 2002 that when you give the bare minimum to anything, it will always come back to bite you. Paterno was on pace to have an amazing season in 2011. When he was fired he had only one loss to the eventual BCS Champion, Alabama. Then when Sandusky was arrested and the story came out how he did the bare minimum, it was all gone. His career. His lifeblood. His supposed great character. All gone when the report came out Mike McQueary had approached him and Paterno did the bare minimum.
As the trial nears a close, we are given a chance to look back on everything that occurred during Sandusky's reign of terror. The way that administrators for Penn State secretly conspired to make this go away. The "punishment" of Sandusky by taking away his privileges to the football facility. (That punishment lasted for maybe two minutes because he was still working out there days before his arrest.) How Joe Paterno's defenders found themselves in a Catch 22 situation when they argued he didn't know what was going on. (If he didn't know what was going on in his own facilities, should he still have been the head coach?) The way the Penn State student body rallied around Joe Pa and how it made the entire group look like calloused individuals. The Phil Knight eulogy of Joe Pa that looks even more ridiculous now. All of this could have been avoided if Paterno would have done more than the bare minimum.
There is one important lesson that we all must learn from this Sandusky Scandal. When you have an opportunity to right a wrong, do more than the bare minimum.