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Dark days for Penn State

November 11, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

A lifesize cardboard cutout of Joe Paterno sits in my basement sandwiched between two shelving units.

The cutout has been a source of a lot of good fun through the years. I've posed for pictures with it as have other PSU fans while others have defaced it with comments on the back of it and Ohio State T-shirts being placed over top of his PSU shirt

Inside of a couple of boxes on a shelf of one of the units are personal items from my four years at Penn State. But the majority of stuff in those boxes is devoted to Penn State football through the years ... programs, VHS tapes and souvenir newspapers, especially from 1982 and 1986, Penn State's national championship years.

I don't know if any of those items will see the light of day any time soon. Not because I still don't have a strong sense of pride for being a graduate of PSU, but because I am numb from all of the news from the past several days.

I've felt all the emotions as have thousands upon thousands of others since first hearing of the child sexual abuse charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Anger, disgust, sorrow, amazement, disbelief. the list goes on and on.

And the accompanying one-word question on everyone's lips is why?

Why would wide receivers' coach Mike McQueary leave the area in which the alleged incident took place without doing anything? At the very least, make some noise to let him know there was someone else in the room.

Why did he call his father, then go to Paterno instead of the police? And why did Paterno not go to the police? The same for the athletic director, finance director and even the president of the school.

One theory was because everyone was a friend of Sandusky no one could believe he could commit such an act. It was almost as if McQueary didn't see what he actually saw.

The only possible reason for all of these inactions is when and if anyone did question what was going on with the case, from McQueary on up, they were told it was part of a ongoing undercover investigation. Obviously, with that scenario, someone is lying.

What a horrible, horrible mistake in moral judgment they all appear to have made. The problem with that type of thinking is those who commit these types of crimes usually are repeat offenders

The board of trustees made the correct decision in firing Paterno and Graham Spanier, the president on Wednesday and McQueary's decision not to coach on Thursday. There could have been no way either Paterno nor McQueary should be allowed to coach on Saturday as if nothing happened.

While I feel numb from the goings on during the past several days, we can't lose sight of the fact that children were abused. We can hash it out as to who should have done what and when forever.

But the victims, some of them now young men, have to live with the physical and psychological scars each and every day. What must be going on in their minds as they see this tragedy unfold? A couple of the alleged victims mentioned in the grand jury report have not come forward. How many more victims are out there who will hold the secret with them forever.

And isn't it amazing how insignificant sports can be when something of this magnitude jolts us into reality? As with any tragic situation, we can only hope something good can come from it. Maybe, the next time a similar situation occurs, our thoughts will flash back to what has unfolded during the past several days and we will do the right thing and act accordingly.

As for Paterno, people have mocked Paterno and Penn State's squeaky clean image. Obviously, that image has been shattered. But you have also read and viewed testimonies from player after player and their families, and coaches regarding how much of a positive impact he's had on their lives, many saying "he changed my life" or "he was like a second father."

Paterno has always said the reason he's stayed in coaching so long was because he didn't know how to do anything else.

It was believed he was afraid to leave the game as did former Alabama Coach Bear Bryant, who died just a few months after his retirement.

Paterno, I'm sure, is devastated and I'm afraid he may meet the same fate.

(Rossano is news editor at the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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