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Penn State scandal is major topic of inquiries among readers

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets three per half) each Friday during the season to answer questions on college football.

November 12, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Jerry Sandusky barks instructions to the Penn State defense during a season-opening game against Arizona State in 1999.
Jerry Sandusky barks instructions to the Penn State defense during a season-opening… (McClatchy-Tribune )

Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: Why the glee over the self-immolation of a coach, a program, a university? Is Penn State (Paterno) that universally reviled?

I am stunned at the happiness expressed over a tragic downfall.

Brian Murphy


Answer: You could not be more wrong. Where is the happiness in any of this? Nobody in the media writing about this wants to be writing about this. I'd much rather be doing this mailbag about Oregon at Stanford on Saturday or Texas Christian at Boise State.

I'd much prefer writing about the Bowl Championship Series and Heisman Trophy races and how the wacky BCS computers have Oklahoma State No. 1.

We are writing about this because a former Penn State assistant has been charged with 40 counts of sex abuse involving children.

Everything written has included "alleged," but there is enough "alleged" in the Penn State Board of Trustees' decision to fire, by unanimous decree, the school president and legendary football coach.

We write "alleged" as Joe Paterno says "I wish I would have done more." We write "alleged" as mothers of the alleged victims provide more graphic, salacious alleged details to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Why would anyone want to see Paterno, or Penn State football, destroyed?


Q: Obviously this is the worst sports story in years.... I think if I was on the Board of Trustees, I would have asked the NCAA for permission to cancel the rest of the games this season. It just doesn't seem right to see these guys running out of the tunnel and being cheered by their fans under these circumstances, even if Paterno is no longer leading them out.

John Arado

Arlington Heights, IL

A: That's an interesting point. I'm sure canceling games was considered. But if you are going to continue to have a season, and a Big Ten race, it's probably not fair to the other schools involved. There is, of course, huge money involved and television contracts.

I wrote this week about what jurisdiction, if any, the NCAA is going to have over the Penn State case. But the university itself could at some point decide to shut the program down for a year.

I think any decision that punitive in nature should only come after the legal process has run its course.

Q: I am neither a graduate of PSU nor a fan. However, the rush to judgment in this matter is frightening … it was only a few years ago at Duke University where many rushed to condemn before the facts became clear. Let us slow down and think.

Jeffrey L. Zeltzer

A: It is always good to slow down and think. Remember, though, it was the Board of Trustees that fired university president Graham Spanier and Paterno.

Everyone should be wary of rushing to judgment in light of the Duke Lacrosse case, but this case involves a lot more accusations and may not just hinge on the credibility of one person.

Q: If the university had guts, they'd do as the University of Chicago did so many years ago and drop football. Or maybe the Pennsylvania legislature will force the move. And it seems to me JoePa might be guilty of aiding and abetting a felony?

Alan Miller

Santiago, Chile

A: There's a lot more money at stake now and the games are in HD. There are television contracts and football is a huge revenue producer. The University of Chicago, by the way, is still a part of the Big Ten's academic consortium. Dropping football at Penn State would be the last-resort option, but it should be an option.

Paterno has not been accused of any wrongdoing and he will probably be a witness for the prosecution. His "crime" may have been doing only what was legally necessary by reporting what he heard about a 2002 incident involving Sandusky to his superior.

Q: I suggest you revisit this column in two to three years. If you do so you will find that, while I realize you hope otherwise, virtually no aspect of your hysterical overreaction have come to pass.

Robert Lucas

River Forest

A: Yes, I wrote that this scandal will effectively kill Penn State football because there has been nothing like this to overcome in the history of sports. The program will collapse under its own weight. It was reported Friday that a top recruit from Colorado has already rescinded his Penn State commitment in light of unfolding developments.

I'm sure he won't be the last.

Opposing Big Ten coaches won't have to recruit negatively against Penn State to get players to change their commitments. They'll just need to go into a recruit's home and ask him to switch on ESPN.

It is going to take Penn State years, I believe, to recover from this. If I'm wrong then I'm wrong.

Q: Paterno is a disgrace. Where is the morality, compassion, feeling for helpless human beings who are in danger? Compartmentalize it, Joe, and maybe it will go away. Disgusting.

Paul Hovespian

Sierra Madre

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