A phone call.
That’s how it ends. 62 years of service. 45 1/2 seasons as head coach.
A child-abuse scandal centered around former defensive coordinator Jerry Sanduksy, and the actions (or lack of actions) by one of college football’s most legendary coaches. A story that happened in 2002, and came to light on Saturday. And the end of an era, Wednesday November 9, 2011.
It’s a dark day in sports. It’s a dark day at Penn State. With allegations not going away anytime soon, football becomes a sideshow at State College. 409 wins, 24 bowl wins, 2 national championships, and 7 undefeated seasons. And it ends with a press conference. One he wasn’t at. One that shook the sports world to its core.
I’ve been to Penn State. It’s a quaint town in Pennsylvania, and that college is like the hub of State College. They love their football and Beaver Stadium is a 100,000+ seat temple, built for just that. Joe Paterno for all intensive purposes is Penn State. Outside of Pennsylvania, outside of the academic community, chances are you don’t know about Penn State without Penn State football. It’s a great school. A fabulous school. But look no further than the press conference. When it was officially announced that both Graham Spanier, the school president and Paterno were fired, the reaction was markedly different. For Spanier camera clicks, but not a whole lot of outrage and shock. For Paterno, a slew of “whats?” and pure disbelief.
It’s just hard to believe that Paterno was axed this quickly and it’s amazing that within less than a week he went from ‘god’ to gone. A sea of white and blue outside his door in quiet sadness, offering their support.
Joe Paterno didn’t do enough for those young boys. That clearly seems to be the consensus. JoePa wanted to at least retire on his own terms. But just hours after he made his announcement, Penn State made their decision: it was over.
In 2004, Penn State asked Paterno to resign, and he said, “no.” That was Paterno’s power at Penn State. He owned that town. They loved him. But none of that matters now. In the wake of one of sports’ most heinous scandals in recent memories, Paterno is done. It’s a stunning story and a crazy end to a whirlwind week for a very proud instituion.
So this Saturday, Nebraska goes to Beaver Stadium in what will be one of the most unbelievable and intense atmospheres in recent college football memory. That will be some scene.
“We are Penn State,” students and fans chanted.
I learned that chant well when I spent 3 1/2 weeks in State College. I remember visiting Beaver Stadium and seeing its massive stature and its symbolism in that town.
It was larger than life.
Just a week ago, so was Joe.