I will admit, I was glad when the NCAA handed down their stiff punishment to Penn State a few years ago in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Sure, the massive scholarship reductions and multi-season bowl bans hurt a bunch of coaches and student-athletes that had literally nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky's multi-decade flood of evil inflicted upon young people, his raping of several young boys in the State College area. From a certain standpoint, yes, NCAA president Mark Emmert's swift punishment was entirely misguided.
But punishing and embarrassing the Penn State football program would also hurt the legions of Joe Paterno truthers and cult-like weirdos that seemed to pervade the alumni base and the State College community (not all of you, Penn State, but enough to be really, really annoying and more than a little creepy), and I was totally cool with that.
I found those people offensive, tone deaf, and one layer removed from being a little evil themselves. "If punishing the football program was punishing the Paterno-ites, well lets start lopping off those scholarships" was my general thought.
Over time, though, I did soften.
Bill O'Brien came in as the new Penn State head coach and was able to withstand what amounted to unrestricted free agency for his players allowed to transfer anywhere without penalty. He was able to keep the team a cohesive unit, even after losing his first couple games as head coach (including the opener to Ohio...not Ohio State...OHIO).
After winning the Bear Bryant Award for top college coach in 2012 and going a respectable 7-5 in 2013, O'Brien left Penn State to take the Houston Texans head coaching job, and was replaced by Vanderbilt's James Franklin, a Pennsylvania native. Unbelievably, the Nittany Lions had lost O'Brien and may have managed to upgrade college head coaches in the process. (Franklin was dynamite at Vanderbilt, as witnessed by their precipitous regression this season.)
Through all that turmoil, amazingly, I came to respect the Penn State community. They still packed their stadium, even without a post season to play for, and for the most part, they'd managed to keep quiet on the past and look to the future. Hell, even Paterno's family, defiant as they were during the punishment phase of the Sandusky saga, had managed to steer clear of the headlines (as best I could tell).
When the news came down earlier this week that Penn State would have its postseason privileges restored this season, two full seasons early, and all of their scholarships restored next season (one year early), I was actually happy for Penn State. They'd reportedly fulfilled a vast majority of the stipulations placed upon them in the wake of the Freeh Report, and honestly, the people who were truly responsible for the emotional and psychological carnage of the last twenty years were all imprisoned, indicted, or dead.
So I was ready to congratulate, you, Penn State. I really was.
Then these Vines were released last night....
Students chanting "Where's our statue?", presumably demanding the return of the statue for Joe Paterno (who willingly kept from going to the authorities regarding Sandusky's raping of young boys, which directly led to his doing it to several more young boys)...
Students chanting "409! 409! 409!", presumably demanding that all of Paterno's wins be restored in the record books bringing his career total back to 409 (even though he willingly kept from going to the authorities regarding Sandusky's raping of young boys, which directly led to his doing it to several more young boys)....
Students chanting "JOE PA..TER..NO [clap clap clapclapclap] JOE PA..TER..NO [clap clap clapclapclap]..." in honor of Joe Paterno, who willingly kept from going...well, you get my point...
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I thought you'd changed, Penn State. I really did. You got a gift from the NCAA gods this week, and your students respond by celebrating one of the main culprits that put you in this situation in the first place.
Just as weird and creepy as ever.
(h/t The Big Lead)