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Paterno's death a tough one to mourn

Scandal tainted reputation of legendary coach

January 22, 2012
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor ( , Salem News

Is being oblivious the same as being guilty? In the case of Joe Paterno, no matter how big his contributions to Penn State and to college football were, I'm afraid it is.

I can't argue that because Paterno is old school and his rationale is that of a different generation, it absolves him of all crimes at Penn State.

It doesn't.

His ignorance and non-understanding of a situation involving defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky brought immediately to his attention, allowed it to not only happen, but continue for almost a decade after the first incident reported by a graduate assistant.

I can't mourn Paterno. He didn't commit the crime, but he didn't stop it either.

There's a reason when most coaches reach a certain age, they are sometimes forced out of their position. They begin to lose touch. Their philosophies no longer apply to generations who are exposed to far more growing up than that coach can comprehend.

That Paterno didn't understand the gravity of the situation is evidence of it.

He hung on and he hung on and he hung on. Penn State was seemingly in no position to tell him he had to go because of what he did for the school.

In this case, sentiment got in the way of logic. That sentiment cost nearly everyone their jobs in the scandal's wake.

I want to feel bad for his passing, but that's not logical. While I feel bad for his family, feeling bad for Paterno would be sentimental.

Sandusky is the monster. Paterno didn't do enough. That's the bottom line.

In State College, Paterno will be beloved for generations to come. To so many others though, he'll be remembered as a man who didn't have the capacity to think deep enough to make a difference where it would've mattered most. Not on the football field or the university which he loved, but to the permanently scarred victims who suffered unimaginably.

Paterno was too old school for his own good.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at



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