To quote Conrad's Mr. Kurtz, "The horror, the horror."
Yes things have come completely unglued at State College, PA. A program and coach revered for success and ethics, praised time after time in national media outlets, has become mired in a scandal so sordid it takes the breath away.
Joe Paterno is done. After sixty plus years on the job, nearly a half century of them as head coach he was fired via phone call. His supporters, some of whom rioted in the streets last night, screech that he did what he was required to do and he is being made a scape goat. His own people claim he didn't understand the seriousness of the allegations. He simply thought it was some sort of odd "horsing around" in the shower.
He did, however, find it odd enough to report it to his athletic director and a school vice president who was ultimately in charge of the campus police department. At that point who knows what he thought. Did he just forget about the whole thing? Was he in such a state of denial he could not bring himself to believe that such criminal behavior was happening within a flat pass of his office? What he did know was that Jerry Sandusky, even though barred from bringing children into the State College facility, was still running around free and interacting with young boys on a daily basis. Surely alarm bells should have been going off in his head. Was this a case of don't ask, don't tell? Did his mania for maintaining the perfect image of Penn State take the twisted path of covering this beast's actions up?
A public statement is pending, practically everyone else is indicted and or also unemployed.
The time line of the grotesque acts and the details of the indictment do paint a picture of a prolonged cover up by Penn State officials. Sandusky apparently was treated as some sort of eccentric relative who, while running amok, was still welcome over for Thanksgiving.
As one anguished former Penn State player said on on ESPN radio this morning,"I just want to know how this happened?"
Indeed the rending of cloth and gnashing of teeth is wide spread. Paterno was Penn State and Penn State was Paterno. To put it into perspective the odds are there isn't a former Penn State player alive today who wasn't coached by Joe Paterno. And Jerry Sandusky was one of his boys, both on the field and on the sidelines for over thirty years.
It is a train wreck so massive the Board of Trustees had to act. The entire university seemed to be swirling down some dark drain. Losses had to be cut, heads had to roll. Even Paterno's resignation after the season became unacceptable. The image of him being carried victorious off the field by his team after this weeks game as one hundred thousand faithful roared was a public relations nightmare too great to risk.
Yes, the casualties are many.
Tim Curley, AD fired and indicted.
Gary Schultz, Senior VP for finance and business fired and indicted
Graham Spanier, University President, fired.
Joe Paterno, Head Coach and fallen angel, fired.
Mike McQueary, Grad Assistant and now Assistant coach, oddly not fired, but soon to be unemployed and sneered at by just about everyone in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Jim Calhoun, Temp Janitor and witness, let go after eight months service and telling his supervisor about Sandusky's gruesome behavior with a boy in the shower. Now a resident of an assisted living facility and reportedly suffering from dementia.
Ray Gricar, former Centre County DA who chose not to prosecute Sandusky in 1998. He mysteriously disappeared in 2005 and was recently declared dead.
All these careers gone because people refused to do the right thing and throw Jerry Sandusky under the bus.
As for Sandusky himself, he still maintains he is innocent of all charges. Well, you have to say something don't you. His lawyer is going to have to ask for a change of venue to say, Ulan Bator, Mongolia to find an impartial jury.
All the other lawyers in Pennsylvania are on the phones with victims and their families as I write. One can only imagine the monster settlements that will be asked for. And, those closing arguments: "Ladies and gentleman of the jury, the defendants KNEW of Mr. Sandusky's pattern of sexual abuse and they enabled him to continue his animalistic behavior." Big bucks will be shelled out by everyone involved in this moral catastrophe.
For a cast of defendants see the above list and add the institution itself.
One can only wonder what the scene will be at State College this Saturday when Nebraska rolls into town. The stadium will be full and emotions raw, fueled no doubt by massive amounts of alcohol. Will there be physical confrontations in the stands? Will McQueary be stoned by the student body? Unacceptable behavior on all sides can be expected. Riot police will be on alert. It will be ugly to the extreme.
How far oh Lord have the mighty fallen?
It appears all the way.
Sic Transit Gloria.