When Joe Paterno passed away on Sunday, I posted just a simple message on my Facebook, "RIP Joe Paterno" and I got the comment "karma is a bitch".
I'm a Penn State fan and have been one since a child. I became a Penn State fan in an unconventional way. I picked out a Penn State t-shirt at an old clothing store called Farrington's, people in Kennebec County know what I mean, and just decided to become a fan. It very easily could have been a Notre Dame shirt, USC, Texas, or Florida State, but thankfully it was Penn State.
My earliest memory of an actual Penn State game was in 1995. They were undefeated going into the Rose Bowl playing an upstart Oregon Ducks team. I was a fan of Kerry Collins, he didn't have his best game, but it was enough as they finished the season #2 behind National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers.
People just know Joe Paterno now for his involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but there was more to this man. Much more.
Paterno was all I or any other Penn State fan have ever known as coach. He was a fixture at State College, PA talking and posing for pictures with fans. He was a genuinely nice person. If one of his players was have a hard time in class, he would invite him over to his house for homemade pasta and a tutoring session with his wife.
When Penn State player Adam Taliaferro became paralyzed after a tackle, Paterno was the first person he saw and calmed him down. He became an inspiration for Taliaferro and in 11 months, he led the Nittany Lions out onto the field defying all the odds.
Bill O'Brien I'm sure will be a fine coach. This I believe, but he will not be half the coach Joe Paterno was. Even if O'Brien wins ten consecutive National Championships, he won't be the same as Paterno. The impression Paterno left on people will not be challenged for years to come.
What people get confused about this whole abuse scandal is that Paterno is just as bad as Sandusky. That is false. Paterno made a huge error in judgement, absolutely, but it is nowhere near the same as Sandusky molesting kids for 30+ years and still lying about it.
Did Joe Paterno make a mistake by not telling law enforcement about Sandusky? Yes. I am not at all condoning what he did and I unfortunately agree with the board's decision to fire him. It was a sad end to a glorious chapter in Penn State football.
I'm a firm believer in karma, but when you say "karma is a bitch", no its not.