I didn't grow up a college football fan. I just think that if you are from WNY, your college roots are about as deep as a houseplant. I'm not trying to say we are stupid, but I don't run into too many UB or Buffalo State alumni who are all about their old stomping grounds. Of course, if you went to Syracuse or a major college, that's a different story.
I graduated from Buffalo State in 2002, but I haven't stepped foot on campus since then and couldn't tell you where my diploma is hanging these days. I know some may feel differently about UB, Canisius College. or Buffalo State, but if you attend a Bulls or Bengals football game, it won't ever be confused with Happy Valley.
When you talk to people who went to big city schools like Syracuse, you can sense the pride they have for getting a degree from those institutes of higher learning. It's more than frats, beers, and parties. It's about a community. Trust me, I run into a number of SU alumni in television in NYC and I have to say, I feel like an outsider. They love each other and that university. In a way, it's kind of similar when I run into ex-pats from Buffalo. I guess you have to live through it to know it.
To this day, I wish I had taken my academics more seriously in high school or cheated on my SATs in order to get into a college like Penn State or USC. I never got that college feel at Buffalo State because I commuted daily from my parents' house. I did my school work, went to Regans or RPMs, did 70mph on the 33, and got home. I never had that connection. More on that connection in a bit...
There are so many angles to this Penn State scandal. It is just terrible. It will be one of those stories where 30 years from now, you'll remember what you were doing on that day. It's a story that I can't really wrap my head around. Let me kind of state the obvious which has been beaten to death since Wednesday afternoon when I first started writing this.
- First off, Joe Paterno should have been fired on Monday. Whoever the hell is in charge of that university should be ashamed of themselves for taking this long to act. Second off, why is the assistant coach (McQueary) who witnessed Sandusky in the shower with a kid, coaching this Saturday? I'm sorry, but that dude should have jumped Sandusky and kicked his ass in the shower. (Editor's note: I know he's not there today.)
- The slow process is exactly why college sports are corrupt. If this were the pros, these guys would have been out two seconds after the news hit. However, this is college football, the beast that has been fed by TV deals and just truckloads of money. The magnitude of the program is the exact reason why these crimes went unpunished for 10 years. They didn't want to open Pandora's box. I think the fans who stick up for Joe Paterno with the defense about him going to the higher-ups with the problem DOES NOT WORK.
- At a campus like Penn State, Paterno is the end all be all. Hell, the athletic director and school president asked him to step down as coach in 2004 and Joe Pa refused. Did they force him out? No, because he put Penn State on the map. His program is a cash machine. The fans fed that cash machine and they weren't going to rock the boat. Even if you stick with the excuse that Joe Pa did tell the higher-ups, how on God's green earth did he allow that creep on campus again? If anything, Paterno should have done what Michael Corleone did to his brother in-law in The Godfather when he found out he conspired to get Sonny killed. He should have given him a ticket to leave the campus to never come back and then have a henchman strangle him in the car. OK, the last part was a joke, but you get the point.
- This story should be about the poor children who were affected by this. It's deplorable what happened to these kids. It's just a f$cken shame. To think that a college would cover this up because they want football games? Really? Just a sick world sometimes.
Now it is 11pm Thursday.
Honestly, this post would probably get more crazier if I did it 24 hours ago. If I carried on the anger I had towards what happened. If I had a mob mentality. I still do in a way. But after reading the thoughts from authors who had ties to PSU, I'm a little conflicted. It made me think about the university, which is the centerpiece for this post. Before I go forward, I just wanna make sure you all know that Joe Pa. definitely had to be fired.
I opened this post about not having any sort of affection towards college football and mainly Penn State University. It was one of the reasons it took me a while to post anything about it. Plus, I think my opinions are pretty much the same as a number of other people. From an outsider perspective, I don't know anything about the way of life at Penn State or any other major college. I only hear about the college football issues through the media. Frankly, I don't relate to it. Which leads me to my next point..
I think it is easy for people who aren't fans of the university to throw their fans under the bus. Why? Because they aren't affected by Penn State. The majority of the 1,300 people or so I follow on Twitter probably didn't even know what Penn State's record was before this weekend. Some probably never even watched a game before. Do they know where Happy Valley is in Pennsylvania? I'm not trying to make them sound like idiots, but I think some have never been a part of a college community like that.
Normally, before I cast blame or judgement on something that has nothing to do with my interests or experiences, I place myself in their shoes. For this situation, I asked myself, "What if this happened to a Buffalo Legend?" How would I react? Would I have pause? Would I play the higher ups excuse? Would there be a riot? Would I focus on the judicial system playing out?
I'm sure we'd like to think we'd play the same role we have now with wanting justice and that the Penn State athletics department be made into a parking lot.
But would that be the same case for the entire WNY region? I'm not sure about that. When I see an entire campus rally for Joe Paterno, I'm under the impression that sort of outcry can be seen anywhere from fans. I know it is easy to throw in the "College sports are too big and these kids are drunks" card, but I don't buy all of that. Some...but not all.
I've read a number of pieces from Penn State alumni who were devastated by this. I'm not talking about the children molested, who I think we agree should be the focal point for all of this, but how sad they are about Paterno, football and what is bigger than the sport, the actual campus. Those writers/bloggers sound ruined. Read Joe Posnanski's piece on Paterno (alright, maybe he was sticking up for a guy he's writing a book about) or this gem in The Buffalo News. These two writers were touched with being around Penn State before the scandals.
Honestly, I was kind of taken aback with the way they described the campus and just how devastated they were. These aren't just fans or some drunk who funnels Jack Daniels at games. They are journalists who are pouring their guts out about how Penn State is more than just a college. The Buffalo News piece kind of impressed me because it wasn't like something they would normally write. You know the journalism rules, right? It was a piece from the author's perspective of being a Penn State alum.
Both those articles gave me pause before I ridiculed the PSU student body. It seems like PSU was a way of life that I'll never be able to understand. I guess the passion for the university is why this scandal was under wraps for 10 years.
As for a Buffalo perspective, I think back to what happened with OJ Simpson. Now, OJ and Paterno are completely different for what happened. OJ killed ("allegedly") two people, while Paterno is a part of a giant scandal, where he's not linked to the actual molestation. However, both guys were cult heroes in the regions and are now tragic figures.
I'd say Paterno was much bigger to Happy Valley than OJ was to WNY, but OJ still was an icon here. When all that stuff came down during the OJ trial, there were a number of Buffalo fans who took the side of OJ. "Oh, let the judicial system play out. Oh, the glove was planted. OJ couldn't have done that. Damn LAPD." I know some will chalk it up to some African-Americans supporting him, but I think in WNY, there were some people who supported him because he was a legend and a great football player. It was sad for people who idolized OJ in the 70's to see what happened. By comparison to Paterno, OJ's impact during the 70's is equivalent to Travis Henry's 2004 season.
It's that same fandom/craziness/lunacy or whatever you want to call it, for why a lot of Penn State fans are supporting Paterno. I'm not sure if all of this was a good example, but I think it's easier to say another community is a bunch of idiots when we've never walked on that college ground or in their shoes.
It's a shame that those shoes will never be the same again.
So, after the angles and the talking heads have had their say, I put down my pitch fork and torch and I ask this question...
Who benefits from Joe Paterno getting fired?
Do the victims? Will they be able to have a good night's sleep now that Paterno is gone? Will the nightmares stop? Will they be able to go on with their lives like nothing happened? Maybe it's closure with Sandusky going to jail, but I'm not sure where their mindset goes to with Joe Pa losing his job.
What about the campus and alumni? Well, judging by the articles from those close to the campus and the students who tipped over a news van, they sure as hell won't. That institute seems f#$ed!
The people who benefit the most from his firing will be...US...because we demanded it. The outsiders. The media. My Twitter feed. Me. Don't get me wrong, he needs to get fired.
Our anger should be directed at Sandusky. He's the pedophile who should rot in hell. It seems like people are forgetting he's the mastermind in all of this. It makes us feel good that justice has been served with Paterno, but for those who it matters most to, does it? The nightmare for them will never end.
In closing, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Just too sad. I think this tweet says it all.
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