After days of discussion, debate and debacle, legendary Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno announced today that he will retire at the end of this season, amidst talk that he might not have done enough regarding an allegation of child sex abuse against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
It’s truly a sad story, one that is bigger than Penn State football and one that is wider-reaching than Happy Valley, Pennsylvania. We all grieve for the victims and their families and hope that, if the allegations are proven true, those involved truly do pay for their crimes.
The backlash has already extended beyond just Sandusky – the accused – and high-ranking university officials, who are already gone from their positions. After 61 years on the job, Paterno, at age 84, won’t be on the sidelines for the Nittany Lions next season.
Paterno has become synonymous with Penn State football – heck, with college football in general. And now, his legacy will be tarnished because of one decision – or rather, lack of decision – he made.
What if Paterno had stepped down 14 years ago – at the age of 70, with 50 years of coaching under his belt, and before the alleged encounters even happened? How would we all remember him? Would it be differently than we’ll remember him now?
It seems to be just another case of a person not knowing when to quit. So who else fits into this category?
• Nationally, here’s a list of Washington politicians who overstayed their welcome. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are on the list.
• South Carolina’s “Luv Gov” Mark Sanford: There really isn’t much more that needs to be said. That’s how infamous he has become for not quitting. He could have been the Republic Party’s nominee in the next presidential election. Instead, he hiked the Appalachian Trail…err, had a sexual relationship with an Argentinian woman while still married.
• USC QB Stephen Garcia: Again, I could stop there (but I won’t). He was suspended from the football team five times and was continuously reinstated. After one final straw, he was booted off the team for good in early October. He couldn’t have waited until after the season to imbibe?
• So you thought the controversy over the Confederate Flag was over, huh? Well, it’s not. The flag was removed from atop the Statehouse dome in 2000, but it still flies not far from the property. Naturally, the NAACP wants it gone altogether. Talk about not knowing when to quit, and the continuing to not know when to quit.
I’m sure there are plenty of others who are slipping my mind now…so remind me below!