By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) Over the last few days I have literally felt my blood pressure go up by the hour.
And it hasn’t stopped.
I can’t get this Penn State scandal out of my head. And every single development has made it worse.
I’ve really enjoyed discussing it with you guys on Twitter (@AdamHogeCBS) the last three days. In some ways it’s served as needed therapy to be able to swallow the horrible facts that are being thrown at us. I’m sure the conversation won’t slow down and I look forward to continuing it throughout the week.
As you can probably tell from my tweets at all hours, I’ve been thinking about this non-stop. From getting my morning coffee to eating breakfast to taking a shower (maybe I shouldn’t talk about showers) to taking the train on my morning commute and so on throughout the day, random thoughts about this scandal have been running through my head non-stop. Some of them I have put on Twitter, others I have not.
So here’s a run-through of some of the random questions I have been thinking about today:
Why exactly did Penn State cover this up in 2002?
In my opinion, this is the money-question. Why did Penn State feel it had to protect a coach that hadn’t worked there for three years? What was it that made at least two individuals — Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz — feel it was better to hide the rape of little children for the betterment of Penn State? What were they really hiding?
Common sense leads me back to 1998 when there was an investigation into Sandusky that mysteriously led to no charges despite a mother of a victim claiming Sandusky admitted his guilt to her. Then, suddenly, Sandusky retired a year later. One can only assume there is a connection there.
Oh, and there’s the fact that the D.A. who decided not to press charges in that case has been missing since 2005 and his laptop and car were found in a river.
This is all connected, right? How bad is this really?
How was Penn State so unprepared?
The grand jury testimony happened last winter!! They knew this was coming. How could they possibly handle every little move so poorly this week?
Resignation letters should already have been prepared. Hell, they could have forced Paterno to retire before this season even began. Sure, his name would still be tarnished, but at least the football team — which the university has shown over and over again is the No. 1 priority here — would at least be spared from being in the middle of this right now. They’re 5-0 in the Big Ten and does anyone think they won’t finish 5-3?
How could Paterno possibly throw around demands to trustees in his statement Wednesday?
In his statement, Paterno said: “At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address.”
This just shows you the power he has. Even after everything that has happened, he’s still throwing around orders.
It says a lot about how and why we got to this point.
Will Paterno really finish the season?
(Update: Since this column was published, Paterno was fired as Penn State’s head coach.)
It’s only human to root against Penn State as long as Paterno is the head coach. Stay on as head coach is just another selfish move for Paterno and it’s not fair to his players who are innocent. They don’t deserve the wrath they are going to get next week when they head to Columbus, Ohio and the week after when they head to Madison, Wis.
The ridicule would be bad enough even if Paterno weren’t there; can you imagine how bad it will be if he’s still the head coach?
If Penn State’s Board of Trustees does not force him out before Saturday, I see two key reasons why:
1) They are planning on letting him coach in one final home game and will force him to resign Monday. This would be an awful move. Paterno doesn’t deserve a final grand march at Beaver Stadium and he doesn’t deserve the record he would get if he coaches Saturday. He’s currently tied for the most games coached in major college football history.
2) They are actually going to let him finish the season. This would only confirm the message that Penn State cares more about football than child rape. Penn State is 5-0 in the Big Ten and can you imagine what a rallying cry this would be for his players? It seems like most of them still respect him and they would want nothing more than to send him off with one last Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl. What a joke that would be.
Speaking of bowl games, how could a bowl conceivably give this team an invitation?
Well considering the corruption we already know about with individual bowl games, moral values were thrown out the window with bowl executives a long time ago. Still, this is different and I would hope they would see that.
I’ll say this, if any bowl gives Penn State an invite, I will instantly lose whatever little respect I still have for that bowl. And if it’s the Rose Bowl, which really doesn’t have a choice with the automatic BCS berth, then I think it’s an opportunity for the BCS to take a stand for what’s right (I know, the BCS making a stand for what’s right?).
That said, I’d honestly be surprised if Penn State even accepts a bowl invite this year unless it’s the Rose Bowl. Considering the mess in State College, it seems like the best thing to do is clean house immediately and look towards the future. Waiting over a month to do so would be a mistake.
Of course, “the best thing to do” and “Penn State” don’t really fit together in the same sentence anymore, do they?
Where has the Big Ten Network been in all this?
It’s a fair question and one I have thought about a lot in the last few days because I worked there for three years. USA Today even wrote a story about their lack of coverage.
The truth is, the Big Ten Network was late to the party. A 10-minute special Tuesday night doesn’t cut it for the network that claims to have the best Big Ten coverage. This is the biggest story the conference has ever seen and they should be all over it.
With that said, I can tell you that every single person working there wants to cover this story without holding back. While the conference — which owns 51 percent of the network — claims it has free reign to cover whatever it wants, my personal belief is that it doesn’t. So please, blame the conference, not the network.
Also, the Big Ten is airing a 90-minute special Wednesday night and I was told “the gloves are off”. Should be a must-watch.
What is it about this story that is making so many so angry?
Sadly, the sexual abuse of children is widespread. This isn’t the only case. Jerry Sandusky isn’t the only person in power that has taken advantage of vulnerable kids. Hell, he might not even be the only one at The Second Mile to do it.
But this case is naturally going to get more attention because it’s Penn State and it involves Joe Paterno.
But beyond that, there’s something else that makes this hurt so much: It happened in the sports world. This isn’t supposed to happen in the sports world.
I fell in love with sports because of its innocence. Sure, sports still has its fair share of drugs, lies, corruption and sadly, even murder. I’ve realized throughout the years that sports isn’t nearly as innocent as I once thought it was when I was a child.
But nothing like this has ever happened before in my lifetime. It is without question the worst sports story I have covered.
And for it to happen in the way it did with a legendary defensive coordinator using his power and charity to lure vulnerable children just makes me sick. Essentially he used everything we love about sports — and kids love about sports — to trap little boys and take advantage of them.
Every single case of sexual assault on a child is horrible, but there’s something about this case that really hits home and, quite frankly, makes me think twice about everything I love about sports.
That’s quite a depressing thought when your life basically is sports.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.