Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 11/10/11
The extent to which the Penn State sex scandal has dominated the news around the country was made profoundly clear on Wednesday when Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak, who played for Nittany Lions, spent the first seven minutes of his 13-minute meeting with the media addressing the subject, saying the story was heart-breaking in terms of how he felt for the victims. Munchak spoke on Wednesday afternoon after Paterno had released a statement saying he would retire at seasons end, but before Paterno was fired by the universitys board of trustees later in the night. For me this whole thing has been a horrible situation, said Munchak, who lettered at Penn State in 1979 and 1981 (he was injured in 1980). Its been a tragedy that something like this can happen. I cant imagine what the victims and families have been through, going through all this. As you hear more information, as far as how the university is handling it and what coach Paterno has decided to do, I think they know all the information and thats the information that only theyre aware of exactly what did go on. Hes probably doing what he needs to do. I think hes probably thought through whats going on here and Im assuming hes sat back and thought this was best for him and the university going forward. Some of the questions illustrated the keen interest in the story but also the difficulty for a coach more than seven hundred miles away who has a strong personal connection to the situation but little information. Munchak was asked how he thought the situation would affect Paternos legacy. I think thats the last thing everyones worried about right now, Munchak said. Its a matter of time will pass and that will work its way out. I think this is something that, like you said, more shouldve been done, I guess, at this time when people had an opportunity. Theyre going to look through all that. The information will come out about exactly what happened. This was a long time ago that a lot of these things happened. Its something that, right now, it is something thats unfortunate. Being from the university, Im still proud of my university, its a great place to go to school, but right now its unfortunate, a tragedy that something like that happened at Penn State. Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, at the heart of the scandal,has been charged with 21 felony counts of sexually abusing eight boys over a decade and a half, and was at Penn State for all four of Munchaks years there. Munchak arrived from Scranton, Pa., as a fullback and defensive lineman, but was converted into an offensive lineman. Munchak said he knew a lot about Sandusky, but never spent much time with him. He also said because of his pro playing and coaching career that he never spent much time in State College, Pa., after his collegiate days visiting the program. But he did know of the charity that Sandusky ran, Second Mile, to help at-risk boys, some of whom allegedly were victimized by Sandusky. Its the shock of it all, Munchak said. The shock that I think, whenever you know Jerry Sandusky, I was there four years, Jerry Sandusky was their coordinator and to think that he was involved in something like this or accused of something like this, its very hard to take in that things were going on for this amount of time and thats the part when people go through something like this, its something you look at and go, I never wouldve thought this was possible. And thats kind of the first thought I started having when I first started hearing, you know, when information first started coming out over the past few months, even when the investigation was ongoing and before all this information started coming out. Munchak found the middle ground of expressing his affection and admiration for Paterno while saying that responsibility ultimately rested with him as the head coach. Im sure at some point, he will explain all these things, Munchak said. I dont know what he knew at the time, so its kind of hard to judge on what he decided, but, ultimately, he knows that hes the guy that made that university what it is. Ultimately, hes responsible for anything that happens while hes the head coach there and so he knows he has a lot of responsibility in this. Munchak said he has reached out to other former Penn State players to make sense of the situation, including Titans linebacker Tim Shaw and special teams assistant Chet Parlavecchio, who was a teammate of Munchaks at Penn State. Hes been, like Ive said from before the day I got the job, I went to Penn State, Munchak said of Paterno. I can speak for everyone whos gone there. Hes a great coach to be around. We were very important to him, not just as football players but as people. He made that very clear. I thought the way he handled the team, the way he motivated us, the stories he told us, it was more about life, not just football. He was really concerned for what you did after football. The (emphasizing) school thing was legitimate. He did want guys to graduate. Just all the things you heard about him, are exactly true. I dont think that will change for anyone whos been around him. Hes been around the university for 60 years. Hes done some great things. That university wouldnt be what it is without him. Unfortunately, thats not something youre going to dwell on, but at some point people will realize that. Its just a matter of, the question is: How did all this happen? Thats something that will unfold over the next so many months, I would guess. Munchak said he would not judge Paterno. No, hes a man, Munchak said. Like anybody else whos going to make some mistakes. I dont know what mistakes he made in this. Im not going to judge him. I (have) a lot of mistakes I made myself and so it wont change how I feel about him. My relationship with him, what hes done for me and my career as a player, those things will always stay the same.
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