The late Joe Paterno had a grand experiment and for decades, it was a prime example of how to run an elite level college football program. He had perennial top ten football teams and while maintaining excellence on the football field – he also prepared his players for life outside of the game. While many colleges ran football mill programs, Joe refused. And for this, he was revered.
A major cog in his program was Jerry Sandusky, the defensive coordinator extraordinaire. His defenses were legendary. just ask Jimmy Johnson and Vinny Testaverde and he appeared to be a model citizen like Joe, working tireless to help those less fortunate. Jerry created the “Second Mile” to help disadvantaged children and he incorporated his connections with the football program to foster this helping atmosphere.
However, as the past few months have shown and the trial over the past couple of weeks in Bellefonte has confirmed, Jerry Sandusky was a monster. He used all the above for cover in his illicit behavior, sexual gratification with minor children. The damage to those kids is immeasurable, but it does not stop there. Penn State and its football program has been sullied. Yes, much of this damage is self-inflicted as the University failed to act when alarm bells went off but the damage would have been sustained nonetheless, to what extent, we will never surely know. Now all those connected with Penn State and its football program will be painted with a broad brush as uncaring and indifferent to the suffering of those children at the hands of that monster.
As time goes by, a more accurate picture of who bears responsibility (or not) will come into better focus. Life will move on and without the constant glare, Penn State will be able to rehabilitate itself. Yet, whenever “Success with Honor” is discussed, there will be that unseemly underbelly; and for that we can thank first and foremost – Jerry Sandusky.