It seems to be a minority opinion, except for maybe the students on campus at Pennsylvania State University. Maybe it's my ignorance of the whole situation, or maybe the university acted emotionally and prematurely, but I don't believe football coach Joe Paterno should have been fired. At least, not yet.
It's been all over the news this week, not just the sports page, but the front page. 67 year-old assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested November 6, charged with sexually molesting 8 boys over a period of 15 years.
One of those was allegedly witnessed by assistant coach Mike McQueary in 2002. McQueary reportedly saw Sandusky assaulting a 10 year-old boy in the shower. McQueary supposedly reported it to Paterno, although we're not exactly sure what McQueary said, how he said it, or exactly what he saw. Paterno then supposedly reported the incident to his boss (the athletic director), but neither Paterno nor McQueary contacted the authorities.
When the news broke this week, Paterno was fired, McQueary was not, although he was placed on administrative leave. The school said it was for McQueary's own safety that he was not to attend Saturday's game vs. Nebraska.
The accusations against Sandusky of sexual abuse against children are atrocities, and certainly those circumstances are immediately actionable, even if due process has yet to take its course. I also understand the outrage of parents and the general public. But it seems to me, that when it comes to Paterno, there are more questions than answers about how much he knew about the reported abuse. It doesn't (and shouldn't) matter that the 84 year-old Paterno is the winningest Division I football coach of all time, but it should matter that Paterno has been with Penn State for 46 years, and has (as far as I know) run a clean program, and has an unblemished reputation as a coach and as a human being. However, despite all of that, he was dismissed over the phone, even though he lives walking distance from the school's administrative offices.
I don't have any allegiance to Penn State, or any school in the Big Ten for that matter, but it seems that because of the public outcry, university officials were more interested in their reputation than justice. The president was also fired, and I suppose that you could make the argument that if the president had to go (because it happened on his watch), then Paterno had to go too.
Don't get me wrong, if Sandusky is proven guilty in this case, he should be strung up from the highest tree. It's just very difficult to think that Paterno knew all about everything, and deliberately tried to cover it up. I'm sure, thinking back on it, that Paterno wishes he had reacted differently when he heard what McQueary had reportedly seen, but according to accounts, he did relay the information to his bosses. If that turns out not to be the case, I'll certainly change my opinion, but for Paterno, even though he is not the accused molester here, the fact that his legacy could be forever tarnished, seems like a shame.
Rematches: A lot of fans (myself included) were not in favor of an LSU-Alabama rematch for the BCS championship, even before the big game last week. Somehow an LSU-Oregon rematch for the title doesn't seem so bad. Oregon's only loss was 40-27 to LSU at Arlington, Texas September 3, and the Ducks are now back in the title hunt after their win over previously unbeaten Stanford Saturday.
BCS Haters: If you really want the BCS to end up in total chaos, this is what you root for—Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State, Alabama to beat Auburn, and LSU to lose to Georgia in the SEC title game. All three of those results are certainly possible, and that would leave Houston (which is getting no love at all from the BCS pollsters and computers) as the only unbeaten team in the country, and about a dozen schools with one loss. No matter what the computers generate for the championship matchup under that scenario, very few people would agree.
NBA: The players voted today not to accept the latest offer from the owners for a new labor deal, meaning there will not be any semblance of a season any time soon, or at all. I know no one likes ultimatums (or ultimata I think to be grammatically correct), but this one is going to be perceived to be on the players.
Personal: Congratulations to my cousin Andy Small and his new bride Lyndee, who were married on Friday (11/11/11) in Pismo Beach. Everything was awesome, even though the ceremony (performed amazingly by my cousin Gayle Cole) had to be moved indoors because of the rain. I think I can safely say a good time was had by all.