Baffoe: I Miss Joe Paterno
By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Now the ball is rolling. Greasy and warped as it may be.
Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier was charged Thursday with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who have already begun their Nuremberg defenses, received new charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy.
That will not get them many bites on Monster.com.
While I’m happy to see the commencement of what hopefully will be an avalanche of culpability and awful PR and the continued rapid erosion of the reputation of a major university because of greed and misplaced ethics, I’m also a bit sad. Something is missing.
Check that—someone is missing.
It would be really nice if Joe Paterno were alive to face the fecal storm that has only now really begun to fly in Happy Valley. Sure, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz deserve to the legal swirly they are well on their ways to receiving, but flushing this turd-filled toilet just doesn’t quite feel right if a pair of comically huge glasses can’t get smeared, too.
I imagine Paterno having to stand before a judge, whispering to his attorney as charges are brought on him because he can’t hear the judge so well and doesn’t quite understand what she means by “ub-STRUCK-shin?” and “kin-SPEAR-isee?” He’d probably have on the cutest of neck braces and orthopedic shoes in an attempt to really drive home the notion that there is no possible a way a sweet little old man could have had an active role in the cover up of such heinous crimes. He’d sign a few autographs for some mental defectives who put football above the well-being of kids as he left the courthouse, and he’d mumble and rasp for the microphones about tradition and truth and Matlock and how our thoughts and prayers right now should be with all of those affected by Super Storm Sandy in the Northeast. Even the molested kids.
Can’t you just picture him standing at the site where a statue of him used to stand, a confused, contorted look on his face, asking one of his fortunate, never-put-in-harm’s-way kids why the school would remove it. His tie blowing back in the light wind of change that wisped past Beaver Stadium, his finger pointing out at others, certainly not a thumb toward himself. A dull, metallic, impenetrable figure. In many ways it would be like that statue had never left. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
I wonder how the drooling, vapid smiles on the Penn State students and fans who say they are happy that Spanier, Curley, and Schultz are going down because they were “part of the regime that brought down Joe Paterno” would change into horrified twisted visages at seeing their football pope, their false idol nailed to a cross of tactical, choreographed deceit created to save money and jobs and reputations that are now damaged infinitely more than had the appropriate actions been taken.
They are. Part of the problem.
There is an empty space in my heart that aches to be filled by a wolf in a navy sweater pressed to awkwardly explain the emails that show blame in a way only an elderly man can explain anything having to do with the intrawebs. Aches to be filled by Paterno’s inevitable tossing-under-the-bus of the three other (as of now) school officials as they are already beginning to do to each other. Aches to see the real estate deals and tax hookups and all of the private workings and mazes and loopholes through which Paterno built a fortune and an empire—mostly unbeknownst to the public because he had to make people believe he was a simple football coach, not a calculating dictator with a windbreaker.
I long to hear a bumbling Matt Millen interview with the coach that ends with Millen’s tearful, snotty mustache pressed into his former coach’s chest amid muffled weeps of “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” while the coach softly but apathetically pats his former player on the back. I long to hear Paterno speak with the conspiracy theorists, becoming one with the freak show of zealots who place infallibility on a school and football program and a coach.
Maybe most of all I miss Joe Paterno because I will never see him forced to answer to reality. I’ll never get to see him squirm when questioned about how he knowingly and repeatedly compromised the safety of children—he, the benevolent father figure, the great teacher of football but also, more importantly, life. Never will I know exactly how pale his face would grow when confronted with a reaching out from Jerry Sandusky in prison, a request to talk some things over and figure out a way to let the world know how the view of these two is all wrong.
But none of that will ever happen, and that is very unfortunate. Just like so many out-of-touch, incredibly stupid fans out there, I really wish Joe Paterno was here to answer for himself right now.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.