I have to admit, as I sit down to write this post I am wound up. I really can’t focus as much as I would like to on the development of this post just because my mind is racing so fast and 75% of my attention is glued to Steve Levy and Stuart Scott bringing us up to date information on the story.
So with my disclaimer that this contribution to “Don’t Blink” might be a little scattered and the writing subpar (well, when is it not?) I want to add some thoughts to this situation that really jump out to me. Let me say this: I will not write about whether I agree or disagree with the firing of Joe Paterno. I am not comfortable with taking a stance on this. Rather, I would like to speak on some of the many other plots and issues that have emerged from this scandal.
First off, it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the reality that within two days, Penn State’s athletic director, head football coach, and president all lost their jobs. That is a complete cleaning of house. As someone who works in a university athletic department, I can’t even begin to imagine leaving work one night and then coming back the next morning and having to come to grips with the fact that basically the three most visible and prominent people on campus are no longer working for the university. I mean, do you have any idea how much work and transitioning is required when someone in just one of these positions leaves their post under normal, cordial terms? It is a long process that takes an immense amount of time and energy. Try replacing three positions like that on a whim. Totally mind-blowing. I could not imagine the pressure and stress that must be on the interim replacements of these positions. They have to go right in and pick up the broken pieces and basically just get right to work. No transition period. No training seminars. No time to breathe.
I feel ESPN has done a great job covering this scandal. They have reported the facts and have focused on the scandal itself. You have heard very little about the football team and the effect this scandal has had on them. I believe this to be very commendable. However, after I finish discussing ESPN I will get to the football team. Much of the commentary from ESPN talent has been superb. Matt Millen’s breakdown yesterday was genuine and touching. Kirk Herbstreit came on tonight and gave a great perspective that had me nodding my head throughout the whole conversation. John Barr’s reporting from right in the middle of the student demonstrations took me right into all of the craziness occurring in Happy Valley. Reece Davis and Chris Fowler also provided great commentary. I liked it how these solid play-by-play people who are very credible were brought in and given the chance to offer their own personal opinion. They did very well. My co-worker said to me that ESPN is reporting on this in the same way that news stations report when we are in the middle of war. What I replied back to him was that this is ESPN’s war. This is their major story. This is to ESPN what Bin Laden’s death was to CNN. For sports fans this really is a “Where were you when Kennedy was shot” type moment and they are reporting on it accordingly.
I feel awful for the victims. There is a place in hell for anyone who touches a child in a sexual way. Again though, I am going to stay away from this sensitive subject. To a much lesser degree than the victims, I feel bad for the Penn State football team. They are 8-1 and in first place in their conference. In two days they play Nebraska. How much must it suck for this monkey wrench to be thrown right at them? No one on the team participated in the hideous actions or the cover up. Yet they will suffer from the fall out. Look, I don’t know how active Joe Paterno actually was in running that football team but his mere presence and iconic status meant a lot to every player. He has now been uprooted, another coach has been thrown in, and their campus has turned into a complete circus. These are 18-22 year olds. The fact that they have to go through this forty-eight hours before their biggest game of the season thus far is a travesty.