GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - There's a lot of smut swirling around the whole Penn State mess that led to Joe Paterno's firing and a rush to apologize by the university's big wigs.
Here's the question that I don't believe they have answered completely: Why did Jerry Sandusky retire in 1999?
I know, officially, that Paterno wanted to "go in a different direction" and so on. That's like the bogus "he left to pursue other interests." Who hasn't heard that one when an employee got the ax?
Sandusky was at his peak as a college coach in 1999. He was 55 years old, perfect age for a head coaching job. But he had - according to court records - just learned from Paterno that he was not going to be "JoePa's" heir apparent anymore. Why not?
Sandusky was the heralded architect of "Linebacker U," one of the most celebrated defensive coordinators in the country. Even if Sandusky wasn't going to get the Penn State top job, why not go to another school?
This smacks of "dinosaurs protect dinosaurs" to my jaundiced way of thinking. If the grand jury presentment is to be believed, there had been another incident in 1998 involving a boy and Sandusky at Penn State. Are we to believe that no one at Penn State noticed this man's inclination toward the young boys he deliberately set up access to?
And yet, Sandusky was no longer heir apparent because Paterno wanted to go in a "different direction."
There was simply too much smoke in Sanduskyland for no one to find at least a flicker of a flame. Coaches and university administrators are supposed to be more alert than that and more concerned about the welfare of young men and women.
Really! If they looked the other way about the welfare of such young boys, how much concern did they have for their own students? If I were a parent of a Penn State student, I'd be demanding some answers and fast.
Usually, when there's trouble in a football program, it's players acting stupidly and illegally, or fat cat "boosters" violating NCAA rules, or a coach exceeding the allowed treats offered to wide-eyed teenaged recruits. That stuff, egregious as it is, pales by any comparison to Sandusky's alleged reign of terror over 15 years at Penn State.
And they let him continue to have a pass and an office AFTER he retired! What kind of deal did they make with him and why? Some panel with legal subpoena powers needs to get to the bottom of this with the threat of perjury pointed like a sword.
The whole question of Sandusky's "retirement" is just too coincidental for this cynic.
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