It's GONE. The famous Joe Paterno statue was removed from its place of honor on a pedestal outside the football stadium at Penn State in the wee hours of the morning today. Despite weeks of controversy over the statue that sprung up in the wake of allegations that the late football coach was heavily involved in a cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's child abuses, the whole removal process was reportedly smooth.
Of course that could be because Penn State President Rodney Erickson waited until AFTER the 7-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of the football coach had been yanked to announce it was going. The crew showed up at dawn; his announcement came at 7 a.m. Only 100 or so students even knew it was happening, and they stood outside chanting "We Are Penn State."
So much for a new era of transparency at Penn State, huh?
The recently released report into the Sandusky case -- created by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh and commissioned by the university -- showed a Paterno who cared more about his legacy and his precious football program than the lives of innocent children. The statue had to go.
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But the timing is hard to ignore. It came just days after reports were coming out of the university that the school was going to let the JoePa statue remain. And it came one day before the NCAA is scheduled to announce "unprecedented penalties" for the Penn State athletic program.
And of course, there's the fact that they waited until after the statue was gone to tell anyone it was going. No doubt Erickson and the board of trustees were nervous about protestors.
But quite frankly, that's a problem they've brought upon themselves. The Freeh report shows quite clearly that the university failed the myriad children abused by their own coach, Jerry Sandusky. It shows Paterno was involved. He couldn't remain on a pedestal, literally, on a pedestal folks, outside their football stadium.
And yet, they've hemmed and hawwed over the decision of removing the statue. They've tried to hard to appease fans when the "pain" the fans might endure over saying goodbye to a statue is nothing in comparison to the lifelong torture that Sandusky's victims will endure. I'm a college football fan, so I feel quite comfortable saying this: the fans need to get over themselves.
Now the way that Penn State went about removing Joe Paterno's statue is another sign that they're still afraid of having to face the actual consequences of what members of their own administration did. They're still in denial. Still, even with the Freeh report out there, they still think it's OK to do something as big as removing the Paterno statue before telling anyone.
So, they didn't want to deal with an unpleasant scene outside Beaver Stadium? But maybe a few "unpleasant" scenes are exactly what the doctor ordered here.
Do you think Penn State is finally waking up with the removal of the Joe Paterno statue?