Penn State as an organization had lost its credibility and the public's trust for the way it handled this whole mess. It just wasn't possible for anyone from within that hierarchy to remain in place without further damaging Penn State's reputation. It would have been insensitive to the victims and a tacit endorsement of the state of leadership. No matter what the individual levels of culpability prove to be, the school basically needed to push the restart button immediately, which couldn't happen with the individual who is most closely identified with the program still in place.
One of the most common sentiments I have seen among PSU supporters is that there was a mob mentality in the media that the Board of Trustees somehow succumbed to. But however distasteful self-righteousness and one-upsmanship in the media may be, there has also been a much more rational and non-emotional perspective in the dialogue and I think it is instructive that they all also come to the same conclusion that Penn State had no choice but to move on immediately. I want to share a few in particular that I think really clarified things for me:
- Rick Reilly's column on why you shouldn't feel bad for Paterno. When you look at the realities of what life is like for an abused child, they have basically been denied the opportunity to forge their own path in life. When you are dealing with those ramifications, considerations for anyone else's legacy or delicate handling go out the window: http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7208581/rick-reilly-penn-state-scandal
- Andy Staples wrote about how a lifetime's worth of good deeds can never be erased, but that a life-defining mistake can come to overshadow them. No matter how you conduct yourself on an ongoing, day-to-day basis, how you respond to the extraordinary tests in your life are very much a part of your narrative:
- Here is a straight legal analysis potential ramifications Paterno still may face. It's just a reminder that Paterno isn't out of the woods yet personally, so how can he be exempted from organizational accountability: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/michael_mccann/11/09/joe.paterno/index.html
- Drew Magary of Deadspin I think did a really good job of capturing how something like this can happen. There is an almost universal outcry that "this wouldn't happen if I were there." But that's simply not true, because it happened here where the credentials were previously impeccable: http://deadspin.com/5857014/jerry-sandusky-joe-paterno-and-the-failure-of-adult-institutions-everywhere
- Stewart Mandel is one of my favorite sports writers. I find him to be the most reasonable person out there when it comes to how we should interpret both on and off the field issues in the sport. He absolutely nails how I feel about the scandal in his most recent mailbag column. The fact that Jerry Sandusky was still walking the halls of Penn State within the past few weeks demonstrates that the system at Penn State just didn't work, so how can there not be change: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/stewart_mandel/11/09/penn-state-joe-paterno-mailbag/index.html.