Buzz Bissenger The Penn State legend tried to do an end-run around the trustees, but they still fired him for doing nothing to stop the alleged sexual abuse of young boys. Now itâ€™s time to ditch the rotten college football system, says Buzz Bissinger.
Like everyone else, I cannot get the scandal of Pennsylvania State University out of my mind.
The story is unfolding at the speed of sound, not just the worst sports scandal in modern history but also one of the worst scandals in modern history:
A former Penn State assistant coach for 29 years and alleged sexual predator, Jerry Sandusky, apparently continued unchecked because of the failure of university officials and head football coach deity Joe Paterno to do anything that might have made a difference instead of what they collectively did achieve:
Buck-passing and unconscionable cowardice.
Paterno announced in a statement Wednesday that he would retire as head coach at the end of the football season after 46 years. He tried to sound like a humble martyr, but he was selfish and self-serving as usual. With the hubris and arrogance that has been the hallmark of his career over the past decade, the over-the-hill 84-year-old attempted to do an end-run around the Penn State board of trustees, who have been meeting to decide his fate. Paterno was hoping he could forever claim he decided to leave the football program of his own accord. The trustees called his bluff Wednesday night, firing Paterno and university president Graham Spanier.
Paterno is just a part of this whole sordid, shameful disgrace. He is easy to focus on because of his mythic stature, all false idol, as it turns out. But I find myself not caring about him anymore, particularly now that he has been let go.
What I am trying to fathom is how it ever became possible that so many men of power and intellect did nothing when it became obvious, because it was abundantly obvious on the basis of the findings of fact handed down earlier this week by a Pennsylvania investigative grand jury, that a former assistant coach familiar to all of them was apparently plucking out little boys as young as 10 to f--k up the ass or be on the receiving end of blowjobs.
(Note: we need to stop the daintiness and describe the alleged offenses for what they truly are in the vernacular to somehow try to capture the monstrousness. Not anal intercourse or oral sex, which sounds clinical, but butt-f--king and blowjobs and cock-grabbing and pants-groping and other assorted acts that the 67-year-old Sandusky allegedly inflicted on eight minor victims over a 15-year span, according to the 23-page grand-jury report, and resulted in 40 counts of serial sex abuse of minors.)
I think the answer to the question of inaction is simple. It wasnâ€™t a matter of university officials and football staffers in Happy Valley not wanting to deal with it (which they didnâ€™t), or not following up (which they didnâ€™t), or having better things to do like attending Friday-night football pep rallies. There is no great conspiracy theory at work.
What happened, or more accurately did not happen, goes to the core of evil that major college sports programs in this country have become, equivalent to Mafia families in which the code of omertÃ rules and coaches and staff always close ranks around their own, even if it means letting someone who was first accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in 1998 continue to roam.
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