Good riddance, JoePa

Joe Paterno on the sidelines prior to a match between Penn State University and the University of...

Joe Paterno on the sidelines prior to a match between Penn State University and the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., Oct. 3, 2009. (JEFF HAYNES/Reuters)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 AM ET

TORONTO - Here’s a message that the Joe Paterno apologists might want to heed.

This is for those of you who claim college football’s all-time winningest coach was made a scapegoat in the shocking Penn State sex scandal that has created headlines throughout the world.

This is for all those misguided students who flooded the streets in and around the university campus on Wednesday night to riot and protest the firing of Paterno, a decision that was announced by the Penn State board of trustees just minutes earlier.

Get some perspective, people.

It doesn’t matter that Joe Paterno has more victories (409) than any other Division I/FBS coach in history. Or that he has led Penn State to five undefeated seasons. Or that he has been a coach on the Nittany Lion staff since 1950, 45 of those as the head man.

The only thing that matters is that, for the past nine years, Joe Paterno knew.

In 2002, a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, told Paterno that he had seen assistant Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s one-time heir apparent, in the showers with a 10-year-old boy.

Paterno told his superiors. He opted not to inform police.

It was his choice. And on Wednesday night, he paid for it when he was booted out of the job he so loved.

And rightly so.

When Sandusky was charged with molesting eight boys in 15 years, including at the Penn State football complex, Paterno should have done the right thing. He should have resigned then and there.

It was the proper thing to do. It was the only thing to do.

Because for nine years, Joe Paterno knew.

Instead, earlier in the day on Wednesday, Paterno announced he would retire at the end of the 2011 season. He called the Sandusky incident a “tragedy,” adding that, in hindsight, “I wish I had done more.”

Paterno added that “it was one of the greatest sorrows of my life.”

To see Paterno patrolling the sidelines against Nebraska on Saturday would have been hypocritical, especially given the information that had become public this week.

Because for nine years, Joe Paterno knew.

In the wake of the firing, a group of students went to Paterno’s home to show their support. After urging him to come out, Paterno addressed the throng by saying that, after more than six decades of coaching football at Happy Valley, being on the outside looking in would take some getting used to.

So be it.

Because for nine years, Joe Paterno knew.

Do you think any of those kids who were allegedly molested by Sandusky care about Joe Paterno’s football legacy? Or what a great Xs-and-Os strategist he was? Or that there are thousands of outraged Nittany Lions fans out there who feel the board acted prematurely by giving Paterno the boot instead of allowing him to go out on his own terms?

It’s a good guess that the answer is no. Nor should they. They’re probably too busy trying to piece their lives together from these alleged heinous acts by Sandusky.

This scandal cuts far deeper than sports. It has tarnished the reputation of a school and a coach whose credo was “success with honour,” but showed none of those traits in this horrifying mess.

He is known as JoePa. In this case, it should stand for Joe Pa-thetic.

While Paterno was not found of any legal wrongdoings, even the state police commissioner said Paterno had suffered a lapse of moral responsibility.

Why?

Because for nine years, Joe Paterno knew.

Paterno has not yet come out and publicly admitted how much he was aware of the situation. But by saying “I wish I had done more,” is that not, in its own right, an admission of guilt?

In the end, good on the board for taking action. Good on them for axing university president Graham Spanier. And good on them for not being blinded by a man’s accomplishments on a football field.

And now, Joe Paterno is paying the price.

As well he should.

Because for nine years, Joe Paterno knew.


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