Graham Spanier doesn’t get it. Joe Paterno doesn’t get it. The students who gathered in Paterno’s front yard Tuesday night and chanted “Beat Nebraska” clearly don’t get it.
That’s why the Penn State board of trustees should vote to call Harvey Perlman this morning and tell the Nebraska chancellor it’s not appropriate for Penn State to play a football game this Saturday, especially not on the campus where sexual crimes against little boys allegedly took place.
Cancel the game. Forfeit.
For the past 9 1/2 years, Penn State chose to worry about Penn State.
As Jerry Sandusky, alleged sexual predator, walked the hallways of the football facilities, Penn State officials had the chance to call police… or carry on with business.
How many times did Paterno or Tim Curley or Mike McQueary see Sandusky and consider stopping him? Instead, they chose to worry about themselves.
That must change. Reality must be re-oriented. Not at the end of the season. Now.
Somebody needs to make a statement that Penn State cares about more than winning games and upholding Paterno’s image.
Paterno’s immediate dismissal is one necessary step. Not playing Saturday is the next.
Football is supposed to be an escape from the daily grind. It’s too soon for an escape at Penn State, where the magnitude of what happened hasn’t sunk in.
If it had sunk in, Sandusky wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near Penn State facilities the past several years. He was spotted lifting weights last week — long after Paterno and Spanier knew he was under investigation for sexual abuse.
If it had sunk in, Spanier wouldn’t have released a statement over the weekend “unconditionally” backing his embattled administrators — he didn’t even mention Sandusky’s victims.
If it had sunk in, Penn State officials wouldn’t have requested that all questions at Paterno’s Tuesday press conference be football-related — when Spanier realized that wasn’t going to happen, he canceled the presser.
If it had sunk in, Paterno wouldn’t have referenced Saturday’s game in a short message to his supporters Tuesday night.
And he sure as hell wouldn’t think he (or McQueary) has the right to coach on Saturday. This game will be a pep rally for Paterno. That’s a slap in the face to Sandusky’s victims — and to all who find the cover-up so disturbing.
A Pennsylvania grand jury found that a minimum of eight boys are living with the emotional scars of sexual assault. And Penn State is still worried about Penn State.
We all glorify college football — some of us even profit from it. We make its actors our heroes and our villains. It’s part of our culture. But times like these, football is not important.
For one week, Penn State should do the right thing. Shine the light away from the field. Let Beaver Stadium sit empty.
Forfeiting Saturday’s game would be a gesture of compassion to the victims. It would signal to fans and athletes that getting to the bottom of the mess is the highest priority. It would show that some things at Penn State are more important than beating Nebraska and winning a Big Ten title.
Why punish football players and fans who had nothing to do with Sandusky? Because this should be a time to reflect, not compete.
If Southern Cal players can accept a bowl ban because a former player received extra benefits, then Penn State can forfeit one game for the biggest college football scandal of our lifetimes.
Tuesday night, hundreds of people marched through the streets of State College, apparently in support of Paterno. How is this town fit to host a major college football game in three days?
And here’s the bigger question: Why would it want to?
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