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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Posnanski book preview - Joe Paterno’s Last Season

Scott Paterno was the first in the family to understand that the Pennsylvania grand jury presentment that indicted Jerry Sandusky could end his father’s career. This wasn’t surprising; Scott tended to be the most realistic—or cynical, depending on who you asked—in the family. He had run for Congress and lost and along the way tasted the allure and nastiness of public life. He had worked as a lawyer and as a lobbyist. He would sometimes tell people, “Hey, don’t kid yourself, I’m the ####### of the family.” When Scott read the presentment, he called his father and said, “Dad, you have to face the possibility that you will never coach another game.”

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:48 AM | 525 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, off-topic, ped, posnanski

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   201. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 17, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4210321)
I don't understand why it's so hard for most people to acknowledge the good things the guy did and the strengths of his character along with the errors, acts of egomania, and the weaknesses.

Because the good things he did were relatively banal and his failings exposed just how banal.

That's why the story has such power and resonance -- "You gave a child rapist safe haven to protect ... a college football program?!??!??"
   202. GregD Posted: August 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4210341)
[141] Don't believe anyone who claims to know how magnets work. They're lying.
Mayor Bloomberg got the magnet question on his weekly radio show a year or two ago link
   203. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4210346)
Opening quote to the book is by Bill James.

EDIT: Not the forward.
   204. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4210357)
That is a great quote from James, but it makes me want to vomit in relation to this book.
   205. GregD Posted: August 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4210365)
That is a great quote from James, but it makes me want to vomit in relation to this book.
This has to be a hoax. Good Lord that is just an unimaginably awful quote to use to open the book. The insight of the Paterno case is what it tells us about our inability to admire people? WTF? Joe Paterno's life is a case study of the fact that 1) if it's possible to make such generalizations, Americans are far too quick to admire people wholeheartedly and 2) the results of that kind of idolization can be predictably disastrous.
   206. Bob Evans Posted: August 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4210366)
The question about how such a personality cult could be built around JoePa suggests to me what would've been an out for Poz and the publisher. Book 1 could've been a straight-up hagiography, explaining the cult. Book 2 could've been how that worked to create the situation at PSU.

Oh, well.
   207. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4210590)
203, oh, puke. Let us celebrate the age of true men in showers.

And this from a guy who's taken all the love of narrative and character out of the Great Game Of BaseBall and replaced it glorified bean-counting utilitarians in their mothers' basements (or, at the extreme, in their Uncle's missile silos).

#### you, Bill. #### you.
   208. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4210606)
I'm here because I have compassion - compassion for the millions of tragic youngsters in the inner cities of our country.

-- Paterno, 1988, seconding GHWB's nomination
   209. robinred Posted: August 17, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4210614)
This may sound silly, but I really hope that Poz is not actually using that James quote to open the book. As noted, it is fine as a quote...but for this particular book? Ugh.
   210. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 17, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4210649)
If that is the opening quote, I'm starting to question my looking forward to the book.
   211. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4210676)
205 -- Greg D., if it's a hoax, it's caught a pretty big fish: "Investigative / enterprise sports reporter at Newsday. Journalism professor at St. John's. Graduate student at Stony Brook."
   212. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4210678)
Ahem. I will wait until it's verified that that is actually the preface to the book before vomiting. Also, I don't think that's a great quote. That's a fine example of a late period Bill Jamesian piece of BS, though.
   213. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4210750)
Also, I don't think that's a great quote. That's a fine example of a late period Bill Jamesian piece of BS, though.

Agreed. I mean it sounds like a great quote. It's weighty, and poignant, and profound, and all those other things great quotes should be... but I think it's pretty clearly wrong in every particular.

One look at the Olympics, or at the NFL or NBA draft, or at freaking TMZ should tell you everything you need to know. People are willing to shower their affection on the flavor of the month with out so much as a thought, or awareness of any possible consequences. This is not the age of the antihero, it is the age of celebrity.
   214. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4210763)
Can anyone share the quote?
   215. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4210769)
Agreed. I mean it sounds like a great quote. It's weighty, and poignant, and profound, and all those other things great quotes should be... but I think it's pretty clearly wrong in every particular.

That was my reaction exactly. More and more James sounds like John Steinbeck when he got old and decided he was more a philosopher than a story teller.
   216. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4210770)
Can anyone share the quote?

The link is in #203
   217. GregD Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4210772)
205 -- Greg D., if it's a hoax, it's caught a pretty big fish: "Investigative / enterprise sports reporter at Newsday. Journalism professor at St. John's. Graduate student at Stony Brook."
Wow! I am staggered. It is like he is taking some perverse pleasure out of pilling his reputation in the yard and setting it on fire. If that's really the opening quote, it would tilt me from I'll withhold final judgment until I read the book to no reason in the world for me to give a second of my life to that book.
   218. Rob_Wood Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4210791)
I dunno, but I don't think James wrote that about Paterno after the Sandusky scandal broke. Poz is either using an old quote from Bill and/or it had nothing to do with Paterno. The fact that Poz (or his publishers) is using that quote at the beginning of the Paterno bio in light of the Sandusky scandal is inconceivable.
   219. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4210794)
One look at the Olympics, or at the NFL or NBA draft, or at freaking TMZ should tell you everything you need to know. People are willing to shower their affection on the flavor of the month with out so much as a thought, or awareness of any possible consequences. This is not the age of the antihero, it is the age of celebrity.


well yes, and no. It is the age of celebrity, but that is very different than the people whom Bill James is talking about, for whom "the celebration and virtue of accomplishment" applies. It is the age of shallow celebrity. for the successful people who actually get things done, we strive to find their minor flaws; their brushes with impropriety, so we can tear them down and make ourselves feel better. There is so much cynicism, because there are no (or very few) absolutes, so we can all point with glee at the (minor) wrongs done by the worthy, to drag them down to our level. I see this with my 25 year old son, who can wryly point to an inconsistancy in almost anything that can be said about daily life, as somehow proving that nothing can be defended or believed in.

Does the BJ quote or what I said apply to Joe Paterno? I don't know, and I do know by popular vote, I am on the wrong side of asking the question, but I do know he had about as much chance of fair consideration as a women with perceived evil powers in Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century.

And good lord I admire Bill James for having the courage to raise the question.
   220. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4210803)
well yes, and no. It is the age of celebrity, but that is very different than the people whom Bill James is talking about, for whom "the celebration and virtue of accomplishment" applies. It is the age of shallow celebrity. for the successful people who actually get things done, we strive to find their minor flaws; their brushes with impropriety, so we can tear them down and make ourselves feel better. There is so much cynicism, because there are no (or very few) absolutes, so we can all point with glee at the (minor) wrongs done by the worthy, to drag them down to our level. I see this with my 25 year old son, who can wryly point to an inconsistancy in almost anything that can be said about daily life, as somehow proving that nothing can be defended or believed in.

When did this not happen? There have always been gossip rags and innuendo campaigns in newspapers against public figures. Besides astronauts and firemen, what "heroes" in America have been universally beloved? It's all nostalgic mumbo-jumbo that Americans are qualitatively different now about this than they've always been. Bill James is falling into the same trap that he used to set for sportswriters as they exalted the halcyon days of yore at the expense of the present.
   221. robinred Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4210805)
That's a fine example of a late period Bill Jamesian piece of BS, though.



I think the quote is OK, not great. I used "fine" as in "OK." But James has always pontificated like that, going back to the early 1980s Abstracts. Indeed, it was a commonplace for him to talk about that in the intros--"sometimes I am going to spout off about random stuff, so be ready for that."

but I think it's pretty clearly wrong in every particular.


What James said is a cultural observation that can't really be verified or supported with data or numbers or evidence in any structured way. It is a YMMV sort of quote.

I don't think the quote is noteworthy in any way, other than how astonishingly tone-deaf it would be for Poz/publishers to use it in the intro of the Paterno bio.
   222. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4210815)
When did this not happen? There have always been gossip rags and innuendo campaigns in newspapers against public figures.


seriously? JFK and LBJ were routinely banging away and young girls or anyone not fast enough or smart enough to run away from them in the white house, all widely known to the press who followed them, and that was not distributed information, was it? Do you honestly think the president today could bring in babes by the side room, or sleep with an 18 year old intern and then pimp her to a friend, and that information not get out? Mind you, these are not people to be admired, and what I am saying now does not go to my main point, but I had to react to the quoted sentence.
   223. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4210824)

One look at the Olympics, or at the NFL or NBA draft, or at freaking TMZ should tell you everything you need to know. People are willing to shower their affection on the flavor of the month with out so much as a thought, or awareness of any possible consequences. This is not the age of the antihero, it is the age of celebrity.


Not sure I agree. Half of those celebs are famous because people like to snark on them. I think we are more cynical than we were a generation ago, but perhaps I'm having a hard time seeing past my generation. I mean, look at the Olympics. Mary Lou Retton wins a gold and is a celebrated hero, the perfect American girl. Gabby Douglas wins a gold and people are nitpicking her hair, why she wasn't wearing the American flag, why her family is bankrupt, etc. Its the 24 hour news cycle - because we need things to talk about, so we nitpick everything; and its the internet because its easier to be critical when you're hiding behind a stupid anonymous handle like "RoyalsRetro."
   224. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4210826)
When did this not happen? There have always been gossip rags and innuendo campaigns in newspapers against public figures. Besides astronauts and firemen, what "heroes" in America have been universally beloved? It's all nostalgic mumbo-jumbo that Americans are qualitatively different now about this than they've always been. Bill James is falling into the same trap that he used to set for sportswriters as they exalted the halcyon days of yore at the expense of the present.

It's more than that.

There's orders of magnitude more snark in public discourse now than a couple decades ago and the governing principle of snark is, "Nobody and nothing's perfect, so why give a #### about anything?"
   225. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4210831)
removing my snark.
   226. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4210832)
There's orders of magnitude more snark in public discourse now than a couple decades ago and the governing principle of snark is, "Nobody and nothing's perfect, so why give a #### about anything?"


This. Yes.
   227. jmurph Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM (#4210835)
Regardless of who is right (whether twas always thus or not), the implied answer to what ails the world in the Bill James quote is... a college football coach?
   228. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:22 PM (#4210840)
Nobody and nothing's perfect, so why give a #### about anything?"


God, if there's a quote that perfectly sums up my generation, this is it.

EDIT: Now I'm being too cynical. There are a lot of people my age doing great things with a positive attitude.
   229. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4210844)
There's orders of magnitude more snark in public discourse now than a couple decades ago and the governing principle of snark is, "Nobody and nothing's perfect, so why give a #### about anything?"



How long has Fox News been live? Couple of decades?
   230. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4210846)
Nobody and nothing's perfect, so why give a #### about anything?"


God, if there's a quote that perfectly sums up my generation, this is it.


Trademark it; put it on t-shirts and hats; and sell a million of each.
   231. GregD Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4210848)
seriously? JFK and LBJ were routinely banging away and young girls or anyone not fast enough or smart enough to run away from them in the white house, all widely known to the press who followed them, and that was not distributed information, was it? Do you honestly think the president today could bring in babes by the side room, or sleep with an 18 year old intern and then pimp her to a friend, and that information not get out? Mind you, these are not people to be admired, and what I am saying now does not go to my main point, but I had to react to the quoted sentence.


1) gossip about politicians was far more scurrilous in the past than it is now--constant printing of rumors about love children and the like
2) some few mainstream newspapers consistently didn't carry that
3) most newspapers though were rabidly partisan so ran all kinds of crazy stuff
4) by the 1940s the partisan newspapers were professionalizing so there was an anomalous window when many newspapers didn't print crazy gossip about presidential candidates
5) in 1980s that changed, and now we are back to where we had been before, with most newspapers willing to print gossip

I guess you could make a nuanced claim about hero worship in the 1940s-1980s, but that's different than a claim that we used to always worship our heroic presidents. Your typical candidate was accused of impregnating black women, cross-dressing, and homosexuality. And that's nothing compared to what the French printed about kings and queens.
   232. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4210865)
I agree with GregD, who writes like an historian of American politcs, but left out accusations of presidents being themselves black (Harding) or even Canadian (can't remember who that was, someone C19). was it Harrison had enough bastard kids that the scurrilous chant was, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Went to the White House, ha ha ha"?
   233. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4210867)
by the 1940s the partisan newspapers were professionalizing so there was an anomalous window when many newspapers didn't print crazy gossip about presidential candidates


I think what you say is true and fair points. I am curious about the timing, though. I have always heard that very few people knew that FDR was afflicted by polio and could not stand on his own, and while not relevant or fair to his qualifications to run the country, would have been a very relevant point to many of the electorate at that time (because the Roosevelt people worked hard to disguise it) . How was that buried in the press? Maybe the 40's was the 30's, giving us a 50 year run of buried stories on personal facts?
   234. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4210880)
Politicians have been lampooned and attacked since the dawn of time because they are powerful. I don't think that's new.

What's new is the modern skepticism to EVERYTHING. In some sense that's good, because we're questioning authority, questioning conventional wisdom, etc. And ironically, had more people questioned what was going on in State College, PA, maybe we don't have a scandal.

But I think we've taken it too far in that there is a prevailing "kid in the back of the room throwing spitballs at everything" mentality in this country that holds the idea as SBB says, that everything sucks because its not perfect. Louie CK sums up it well.
   235. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4210883)
4) by the 1940s the partisan newspapers were professionalizing so there was an anomalous window when many newspapers didn't print crazy gossip about presidential candidates

This goes back to the Progressive Era. There were exceptions, like the Chicago Tribune, but the Progressive Era was the big change. The rise of the New York Times serves as a nice tipping point as it strove to have no obvious bias. (Whether or not they actually weren't biased isn't the point nor the debate I'm looking to get into. But the point here is that there is a massive difference between the NYT and the openly and avowedly partisan press that dominated the 19th century).

This was part of a bigger sea change. The 19th century was the great era of partisanship in the nation. The Gilded Age in particular would have partisan papers churning out openly partisan material and parties using cultural issues to get the vote out.

At the turn of the century there was a move away from that. People stopped trusted the parties so much. The giant 1890s recession played a role. There was a sense that problems were too large scale for just a party to decide. You needed the government itself to get involved. The turn of the century was the era of civil service reform, and the early 20th century saw the first wave of modern government regulatory organizations (Food and Drug Administration, Meat Inspection Act, Federal Reserve, etc). The power went from the political parties to the government bureacracy.

Parties themselves were less partisan. The two most prominent presidents were TR & Wilson - one a Republican and the other a Democrat - both of whom claimed the mantle of progressivism. That lessens the differences between the parties, and if the parties are less different, it's hard to get the vote out based on partisanship, or to sell papers that way. Hence the rise of the new type of journalism.

In other words, if it was just the 1940s that began this shift, you'll have a helluva time explaining how the press never reported the fact that FDR was in a wheelchair.
   236. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4210891)
#234. Thank-you for that link; that was brilliant. I agree with your last paragraph as well; it is spot on.
   237. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4210894)
I mean, look at the Olympics. Mary Lou Retton wins a gold and is a celebrated hero, the perfect American girl. Gabby Douglas wins a gold and people are nitpicking her hair, why she wasn't wearing the American flag, why her family is bankrupt, etc.


There is one fairly obvious difference between Retton and Douglas.
   238. robinred Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4210906)
I don't understand why it's so hard for most people to acknowledge the good things the guy did and the strengths of his character along with the errors, acts of egomania, and the weaknesses.


Adding to what SBB said, I think with almost anything else, people might do that. But in this case, given the horrific nature of Sandusky's acts and the timeframe...well...
   239. asinwreck Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4210921)
was it Harrison had enough bastard kids that the scurrilous chant was, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Went to the White House, ha ha ha"?


That ditty was used against Grover Cleveland, though it didn't stop his political career, nor prevent the parents of a future HoF pitcher from naming their son after him three years later.
   240. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4210936)
More excerpts: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/08/joe_paterno_biography_describe.html

Regarding a 2001 incident in which then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky in a Penn State shower with a boy, Paterno told Posnanski a similar story to what he told a grand jury.

"Did you consider calling the police?" Posnanski asked.

"To be honest with you, I didn't," Paterno responded. "I tried to look through the Penn State guidelines to see what I was supposed to do. It said that I was supposed to call Tim [Curley]. So I did."


I wonder what the PSU guidelines for child rape were? Apparently, calling the cops was not part of the guidelines.
   241. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4210940)
Going WAY back in this thread to the claim that this book will be quickly forgotten... This book will provide some of the "Joe's side of the story" that will be criticized in the following books. It will not be forgotten.
   242. JJ1986 Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:29 PM (#4210944)
From the book:

The general media takeaway from this email chain was that Paterno had convinced Curley to back off reporting Sandusky and to handle this in-house. Others familiar with the emails believed instead that Paterno had demanded they confront Sandusky.


These don't seem like two opposing things. They seem like exactly the same thing.
   243. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4210956)
242- probably because they are.

240- so he never even considered calling the cops? Not even the ####### campus police? Clinging with his cold, dead hands, to the I'm-just-a-small-cog-in-a-big-wheel and please ignore my nationally broadcast claim of "compassion for the millions of tragic youngsters in the inner cities of our country."
   244. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4210959)
Going WAY back in this thread to the claim that this book will be quickly forgotten... This book will provide some of the "Joe's side of the story" that will be criticized in the following books. It will not be forgotten.
i havne't really gone out of my way to read excerpts from the book, but the two quotes from paterno that i remember are these:

"what is sodomy, anyway?"

"i tried to look through the penn state guidelines to see what i was supposed to do. it said i was supposed to call tim, so i did."



if you want to insist that these quotes prove that paterno was a cold, heartless bastard who put his name and legacy ahead of child welfare, feel free to try, but i think they're much more persuasive as confirmation of the fact that he was in over his head and unaware of the gravity of the situation.

that doesn't absolve him of his share of the blame in this, but this characterization of him as some kind of monster just doesn't ring true to me.
   245. Steve Treder Posted: August 17, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4210964)
unaware of the gravity of the situation

Just exactly what sort of a person is "unaware of the gravity" of a situation involving allegations of child sexual abuse?
   246. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 17, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4210970)
245 - Uncle Leo.
   247. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 17, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4210972)
steagles

you are a smart one. you are choosing to be overly generous of spirit

i know and have known hundreds of guys like paterno. who built something of real substance out of nothing (in a manner of speaking) it's a life's work. they are proud of it and rightfully so

and now they are faced with seeing this great accomplishment be harmed.

he was protecting that which he had built with his own two hands. the output of a lifetime's blood, sweat and tears. and if that meant hiding behind protocols or plausible ignorance of how others perceive his generation so be it.

but in the deep of night when he laid awake thinking about the possible outcomes and glanced at his wife and what she might think if she knew, really knew, he grasped the choice he was making

but still he chose that path.

i am not others who come to condemn out of some sense of self-righteous piety

i know this path. watched it. had my own choice to make. not nearly as grave as paterno but that moment came to keep my friends and associates or see that all vanish by saying what was wrong and saying it publicly. i became a social pariah and my wife to this day is shunned by a segment of our area for the decision i made

paterno faced something a 1000 times more serious. and he knew the fallout. he knew

and he chose the wrong path

he chose it

p.s. of course i am shunned but i don't give a ####. my wife is the social one so the impact is far more emotional
   248. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 17, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4211022)
I just watched the 30 for 30 doc on SMU in the 80s. Man, old-school college corruption where nothing worse happened than Erick Dickerson getting a gold Trans-Am from a booster really makes one smile in this age of kiddy rape rings.
   249. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: August 17, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4211111)
Just exactly what sort of a person is "unaware of the gravity" of a situation involving allegations of child sexual abuse?

that question actually kind of reminds me of fahrenheit 9/11. just exactly what sort of a person is "unaware of the gravity" of a situation where a commercial jetliner crashed into the world trade center?

i just don't think that's the right question to ask because i don't think what sort of person joe paterno is is the relevant part of the equation.

steagles

you are a smart one. you are choosing to be overly generous of spirit
i agree with that in this instance. i don't know with any degree of certainty that my interpretation of this is accurate.

but i am fairly sure that the overwhelming judgment of paterno being some craven, power-hungry, legacy-protecting, child-exploiting monster is much less plausible.


i'm not suggesting here that paterno's hands are clean. i'm not suggesting that he bears no responsibility. and i'm not even saying that paterno should continue to be held up as saint joe of happy valley.

i just think there's a very large gap between what he did and what people think he did, and when 40% of americans either think he's an accused child molester, or aren't sure whether he's an accused child molester, i think it's worth speaking up--at least to a point.
   250. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 17, 2012 at 09:45 PM (#4211161)
I just watched the 30 for 30 doc on SMU in the 80s. Man, old-school college corruption where nothing worse happened than Erick Dickerson getting a gold Trans-Am from a booster really makes one smile in this age of kiddy rape rings.


You and Pony Excess overlook that Craig James killed 5 hookers.
   251. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: August 17, 2012 at 10:00 PM (#4211162)
You and Pony Excess overlook that Craig James killed 5 hookers.

You aren't supposed to do that? Great, now you tell me...
   252. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: August 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4211165)
that question actually kind of reminds me of fahrenheit 9/11. just exactly what sort of a person is "unaware of the gravity" of a situation where a commercial jetliner crashed into the world trade center?


Actually, if Paterno had waited seven minutes before correctly addressing the gravity of the situation I don't think anyone would hold it against him. Further, Bush knew the importance of the situation even as he finished up with those kids. Paterno's reaction was more like "what's an airplane?"
   253. Swoboda is freedom Posted: August 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4211184)
You and Pony Excess overlook that Craig James killed 5 hookers.

You aren't supposed to do that? Great, now you tell me..


If someone had told me that was frowned upon....
   254. Steve Treder Posted: August 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4211188)
i don't think what sort of person joe paterno is is the relevant part of the equation.

Actually, I think what sort of person Joe Paterno is is the relevant part of the equation.

   255. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 17, 2012 at 11:58 PM (#4211189)
The phrase "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" was never more apt for a situation. How a board of trustees could be buffaloed by an 80 year old football coach in 2004 when it was "strongly suggested" that Joe's time had come and gone is almost beyond credulity.

It wasn't the BoT that was buffaloed so much, it was the administration. When challenged, Paterno was not going to be stood down. Spanier likely could have run Paterno out, and got the BoT to go along with it, but Spanier would have been looking for a job himself once the Paternut cabal started making noise. The idea of letting Paterno run out the clock on his own terms was not unreasonable, at least if there were no horrible skeletons in the closet, and of course, there were. It's also important to note that after 2004 the team was pretty good.

but in the deep of night when he laid awake thinking about the possible outcomes and glanced at his wife and what she might think if she knew, really knew, he grasped the choice he was making

This could be true, but my guess is that he did not think about it much. Someone in Paterno's position has to be pretty good at compartmentalization.

i just don't think that's the right question to ask because i don't think what sort of person joe paterno is is the relevant part of the equation.

I definitely think it's relevant -- Paterno's psyche looms large in this situation. What isn't very relevant, or at least not a very useful thing to consider if you're really trying to understand what happened here, is whether he is a bad person, or a good person.
   256. Steve Treder Posted: August 18, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4211190)
my guess is that he did not think about it much. Someone in Paterno's position has to be pretty good at compartmentalization.

If so, then he was one very sick, very sad person. I guess I'm supposed to reserve judgment on whether that makes him a "bad person or a good person."
   257. Rob_Wood Posted: August 18, 2012 at 12:28 AM (#4211194)
That is one question I hope/expect Poz's book to answer: how much Paterno thought about or agonized over his "actions" regarding Sandusky after he knew what was going on. I honestly believe Paterno gave very little thought to this, probably less than an hour total over the years.
   258. calhounite Posted: August 18, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4211245)
Rabid, maniacal, and brainless. There is no god but Mr. Wins, Joe Paterno is the messenger of Mr. Wins.

How does a coach survive a 3 win season at a football factory? He tells them that Mr. Wins is testing their slave worship of Mr. Wins through their obedience to His Messenger, and, if they don't stay securely locked up in his posterior crawl space, he, then, as His Messenger, will advise Mr. Wins to send 'em all straight to eternal damnation.

Mean SECURELY locked up there. Like from this vantage point can only see the Messenger's uh "judgement lapses" like child rape, child pimping, highway robbery, mass murder, etc, as he either didn't do 'em, or if he did had good reason to, or, what the heck, not judgement lapses at all but exercises of virtue just as worthy of emulation as what hand the Messenger uses to take a piss.

A book about these vegetables might make an interesting read. On second thought, rather wallow in pig dung.
   259. GregD Posted: August 18, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4211327)


This was part of a bigger sea change. The 19th century was the great era of partisanship in the nation. The Gilded Age in particular would have partisan papers churning out openly partisan material and parties using cultural issues to get the vote out.

At the turn of the century there was a move away from that. People stopped trusted the parties so much. The giant 1890s recession played a role. There was a sense that problems were too large scale for just a party to decide. You needed the government itself to get involved. The turn of the century was the era of civil service reform, and the early 20th century saw the first wave of modern government regulatory organizations (Food and Drug Administration, Meat Inspection Act, Federal Reserve, etc). The power went from the political parties to the government bureacracy.

Parties themselves were less partisan. The two most prominent presidents were TR & Wilson - one a Republican and the other a Democrat - both of whom claimed the mantle of progressivism. That lessens the differences between the parties, and if the parties are less different, it's hard to get the vote out based on partisanship, or to sell papers that way. Hence the rise of the new type of journalism.

In other words, if it was just the 1940s that began this shift, you'll have a helluva time explaining how the press never reported the fact that FDR was in a wheelchair.
You're right; I had placed the change too late. Only add two little things: corruption--or at least the belief that corruption was on the rise--undermined the party's hold. FDR is an interesting case since newspapers apparently didn't say he was in a wheelchair but all the time said he was a Communist. Newspaper editorials against FDR in 1936--80% endorsed Landon--were harsher on the whole than Fox's coverage of Obama. So there was certainly bitter criticism but of his politics. Whether that made it easier or harder for people to valorize FDR, I dunno. Certainly lots of people did worship FDR but that seems to have happened despite not because of press coverage. And despite the coverage now, I am sure there is a large chunk that still sees Obama as a hero. I doubt many people see Romney as a hero, but plenty of people saw Reagan that way, and no revelations will affect that.

The Kennedy hero worship is interesting as the last gasp of the big Democratic Party. Reagan Democrats valorize Kennedy as their way of remembering the Democratic Party they left. Liberals valorize it as the last gasp of the FDR coalition they succeeded within. Kennedy was neither the last moderate nor the last great liberal, but that's irrelevant to the perception, and his personal failings are irrelevant to that, too. Nostalgia doesn't need a reason. And people who are nostalgic for the early 2010s will be so too even if Obama commits some disgraceful act.
   260. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: August 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4211343)
This has to be a hoax. Good Lord that is just an unimaginably awful quote to use to open the book.


That quote is completely nonsensical and by far the worst quote ever given its own page.

That Joe included it at all, especially since it's a James quote, kinda reminds me of what Lucas did after RotJ.
   261. GregD Posted: August 18, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4211390)
The Mid-States warning to Penn State is interesting. De-accreditation would be an enormous problem, so I imagine it's just a way of making Penn State know they have to present a plan to Mid-States for approval. link
   262. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4211461)
You and Pony Excess overlook that Craig James killed 5 hookers.


Now now, it's only been alleged, and never proven, that Craig James brutally murdered five prostitutes while at SMU.
   263. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4211468)
It hasn't been disproven either!
   264. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: August 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4211481)
from the link in 261:
Pennsylvania State University has been warned that its accreditation is in jeopardy unless it corrects conditions that contributed to sexual abuse of children by a former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued the warning last week, giving the university until Sept. 30 to report what steps it is taking.


it seems to me that quite a lot of people won't be happy until the entire state of pennsylvania is burned to the ground, dresden-style.


   265. robinred Posted: August 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4211487)
Many people tend to assume that "accreditation" means "academics", but sometimes, as in this case, it refers to how the school is run administratively/institutionally.

To be clear, I am not saying that PSU should or should not have to deal with accreditation oversight organizations right now, but this is not really that surprising in view of what happened.
   266. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4211488)
It hasn't been disproven either!


Indeed. And certainly, there are numerous allegations that Craig James murdered prostitutes at SMU, including reputed media sources in Texas reporting on the (former) Craig James senate campaign's inability to stamp out the allegations that Craig James slayed five hookers. Remember the Five (TM), always.
   267. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4211504)
On March 1, 2012, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education acted as follows:

To accept the Commission-requested information report, to remind the institution that the Commission must continue to be informed of any further developments that may result in changes in mission, programs, personnel, and/or budget arising from the institution’s investigation or that may result in a change of status with external oversight bodies, such as the NCAA, and to request that the institution provide to the Commission copies of all relevant reports from its investigation or to its external oversight bodies. To further remind the institution of the progress report due by April 1, 2012, documenting evidence of further progress in: (1) the establishment of learning goals at the program level in all programs; and (2) the use of appropriate assessment of the attainment of learning goals at the program level, including use of direct measures of the assessment of student learning and evidence that assessment results are used to improve teaching and learning (Standard 14). The next evaluation visit is scheduled for 2014-2015.

On August 6, 2012, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education acted as follows:

To Warn the institution that its accreditation is in jeopardy based on information contained in the institutionally commissioned Report of the Special Investigative Counsel (Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP, July 12, 2012) and the Binding Consent Decree Imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Accepted by the Pennsylvania State University (July 23, 2013) and insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with the Requirements of Affiliation 5 (compliance with all applicable government policies, regulations, and requirements) and 9 (institution’s governing body responsibility for the quality and integrity of the institution, for ensuring that the institution’s mission is being carried out, and for making freely available to the Commission accurate, fair, and complete information on all aspects of the institution and its operations) and with Standard 4 (Leadership and Governance) and Standard 6 (Integrity). To note that the institution remains accredited while on Warning. To request a monitoring report due by September 30, 2012 documenting steps that have been taken and are planned to ensure the institution’s full compliance with Requirements of Affiliation 5 and 9 as well as Accreditation Standards 4 and 6. In addition, to request that the monitoring report also address Accreditation Standard 3 (Institutional Resources) with regard to the institution’s capacity and plans for addressing financial obligations that will or may result from the investigation and related settlements, etc. A small team visit will follow submission of the monitoring report. To remind the institution that the Commission must continue to be informed of any further significant related developments, including the provision of copies of any and all relevant external reports. The due date for the next evaluation visit will be established when accreditation is reaffirmed.


All pretty easily predicted. Administration and BOT get caught looking the other way on something like this, Administration and Public Safety become concerns; given the likelihood of monetary damages, financial preparedness (one of the biggest issues with accrediters) becomes a crucial concern.

Unless one prefers a culture of wasn't watching ...

ETA Link: http://www.msche.org/institutions_sas_pds.asp?idInstitution=351
   268. zenbitz Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4211857)
Bagging 5 hookers is way over the legal limit.
   269. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 19, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4212070)
I don't understand why it's so hard for most people to acknowledge the good things the guy did and the strengths of his character along with the errors, acts of egomania, and the weaknesses.


Because the good things he did were relatively banal and his failings exposed just how banal.

That's why the story has such power and resonance -- "You gave a child rapist safe haven to protect ... a college football program?!??!??"


Yes. SugarBear basically nails it.
   270. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 19, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4212072)
There is one fairly obvious difference between Retton and Douglas.


Retton is ugly?
   271. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 19, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4212079)
More excerpts: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/08/joe_paterno_biography_describe.html

Regarding a 2001 incident in which then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky in a Penn State shower with a boy, Paterno told Posnanski a similar story to what he told a grand jury.

"Did you consider calling the police?" Posnanski asked.

"To be honest with you, I didn't," Paterno responded. "I tried to look through the Penn State guidelines to see what I was supposed to do. It said that I was supposed to call Tim [Curley]. So I did."

I wonder what the PSU guidelines for child rape were? Apparently, calling the cops was not part of the guidelines.


And apparently, talking them out of calling the cops was. Because there's credible evidence that that's what Paterno did.

As if one needed "guidelines" to know what should be done when someone reports an eye witness account of child sex abuse in the showers late at night.
   272. OCF Posted: August 19, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4212122)
Spanier likely could have run Paterno out, and got the BoT to go along with it, but Spanier would have been looking for a job himself once the Paternut cabal started making noise.

That's pretty much how we at CSU Long Beach got to have Bob Maxson as president. His time at UNLV didn't last very long after he'd stood up to Jerry Tarkanian.
   273. base ball chick Posted: August 19, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4212231)
once i get some time - hahahahahaha - like i ever gots any time - i am gonna read joe's book for my own self. because he has always been my favorite writer next to john brattain, and i want to make up my own mind about whether or not he was able to, in the end, show that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and joe ended as a tyrant with a death grip on his throne.

harveys is teh awesome. and dead on. harveys hasn't been no saint but he is honest enough and man enough to take responsibility for his actions instead of saying absolute crap like - oh, i had NOOOOOOOOOOO idea what to do when i heard about child rape except tell my yesman supposed superior who knew better than to ever let it get out
   274. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 19, 2012 at 10:55 PM (#4212234)
Poz's former employer with a review:

According to the independent report headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, that discussion took place in 1998 just a month or so before the campus police investigated Sandusky for inappropriate behavior with an 11-year-old boy in a locker room shower. This shouldn’t be confused with a similar incident in 2001, which had been reported to Paterno by graduate assistant Mike McQueary. Paterno contended to the Sandusky grand jury that he knew nothing about the 1998 assault.

Except, well, it seems he did. The Freeh Report includes — and Posnanski mentions — a one-line email from May 1998. Athletic director Tim Curley is asking for an update on “Jerry,” because “Coach is anxious to know where this stands.”

Let’s pause here. In Posnanski’s words, Paterno told the grand jury he “had never heard another rumor about Sandusky, but admitted that things could have been said in his presence that he had forgotten.”

Men in their early 80s do forget things. But it strains credulity to believe that Paterno, whose players often praised his remarkable memory for things like the cheesecake their mothers had served him on recruiting visits, forgot allegations of pederasty involving an employee whom he not only hated but who had founded and run a charity for wayward adolescent boys.

This is one of many contradictions that begin to trouble the reader. Up until now, even when Paterno has been a jerk — and his players usually thought he was that — the reader has liked Posnanski’s Paterno, a Brooklyn boy who majored in English at Brown and built a rural school’s football program into a powerhouse.

Posnanski deliberately does not dwell on Sandusky and the scandal, preferring to keep his attention squarely on Paterno.
   275. robinred Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4212246)
Another review, by Rich Hofmann of the Philly Daily News:

http://www.theolathenews.com/2012/08/19/1636323/rich-hofmann-paterno-bio-is-insightful.html

Posnanski writes that, as the scandal raged, Guido D'Elia - a Penn State marketing guy and longtime Paterno confidant - asked him a question:

"Why didn't he follow up?" D'Elia said. "Find the answer to that and you have the story."

If that is the standard, Posnanski failed. Then again, he never had a chance. He has added to the portrait of Joe Paterno but it seems destined to remain unfinished.


Also, I have seen it suggested that some Paterno defenders believe that the "Coach" in the infamous email is Sandusky, not Paterno.

The trial for the PSU admin guys is months away--January of '13.

   276. robinred Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4212252)
Here's Hofmann again:

To me, the key is 1998. If Paterno did know about those allegations, as the Curley emails suggest, and he still did not act to alert authorities in 2001 (or even recommended against contacting authorities), it changes everything - and everybody knows it.

Posnanski makes a couple of passing references along the way but essentially deals with those 1998 emails in one paragraph in the middle of the book. It does not seem enough.
   277. calhounite Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:24 AM (#4212310)
All this survey proves is that the public is extremely well informed. Child rape and child rape pimping are essentially equivalent. In fact, want to get rid of the crime, getting rid of the pimp works better than getting rid of the whore or other perpetrator as the case may be. Would know that this is what the public is talking about if kept up with the media accounts, none of which stated the actual charge was child rape.

And Sandusky was on the job after the 2001 when he was witnessed in the shower with a child. Had an office in Paterno's building where he emitted his conditioning correspondence, Just transfered out of the football department into something, as Paterno called it "Volunteer Youth Organizer" or something like that, better name would be "Offical PSU Child Rapist"

Again questioner would know this if kept up with media accounts, all of which exactly described the actual circumstances, and wouldn't have scored the survey wrong..

And Paterno did not arrange for the head of the campus police to be informed about 2001, because Harmon, the head of the police, did not know crap about 2001. Score 1 for the public again.

I'm sure the public doesn't appreciate being called a bunch of monkeys.

But what I'd like to know is this.

Which one of those monkeys designed it?
   278. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4212598)
NY Times: ‘Paterno’ by Joe Posnanski, a Biography of the Coach


Mr. Posnanski does not let Paterno off the hook. He calls Penn State’s and Paterno’s response to early indications of Sandusky’s depravity “sickeningly inadequate.” But he sets Paterno’s inaction in context: he was old, a bit befuddled and — a sin in football — he simply took his eyes off the ball. He’d stayed far too long as head coach, and was not the man he once had been.

The book’s primal moment arrives in its final section. Mr. Posnanski sits alone with Paterno, who has already been fired and has learned he has lung cancer, at his kitchen table. “So,” Paterno asks him, “what do you think of all this?”

Mr. Posnanski writes: “I told him that I thought he should have done more when he was told about Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy. I had heard what he had said about not understanding the severity, not knowing much about child molestation, not having Sandusky as an employee. But, I said: ‘You are Joe Paterno. Right or wrong, people expect more from you.’ ”

The author adds: “He did not try to defend or deflect. He simply said, ‘I wish I had done more,’ again, and then he descended into another coughing fit.”


   279. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4212634)
reading the review i am already weary of joe pos lecturing everyone else for being hasty in their judgements. it's a nice trick if you can pull it off joe you read as a sanctimonious piece of sh8t. as if you are the one who has perspective and the rest of us minions just do not have the full breadth and scope of human development to properly assess the situation.

you could make the case without speaking down to your readers as if they were wayward halfwits.
   280. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4212667)
At the end of the day, we are left with this: Posnanski was tortured writing about how a football coach enabled a child sex abuser. And why was Posnanski tortured? Because the coach was good at winning football games.

The entire display from Posnanski is sickening. He wants us to pretend that there was some big, difficult issue at play here. But there wasn't. There was nothing difficult about this at all.
   281. Lassus Posted: August 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4212676)
Thank you, Professor X.

(Note: Poz screwed this one up very very very badly. But it isn't like we needed more proof that you have no idea how human brains or emotions work, Ray. Poz being entirely wrong does not make you right.)
   282. Shock Posted: August 20, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4212683)
Blah
   283. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4212685)
I love the smokescreen over whether a 70+ year old man understood what sodomy was. Even if one strains belief to conclude that he didn't, all he needed to understand was that child sex abuse was bad. And he seemed to understand that, because he admitted to consulting the PSU guidelines (as if such were needed) and to informing his nominal superiors following the McQueary account.
   284. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4212738)
Why was Paterno supposed to be so great? Because he won football games, while following the recruiting rules and seeing his players graduate at an acceptable rate. I mean, no, he didn't really directly help them graduate -- in fact, if anything, a student spending countless hours a week on football detracts from that goal if that was a true goal of Paterno's -- but they graduated. Whoop dee doo.

One reason Paterno was so "respected" is because of his character. But when it turned out that his character was so morally bankrupt that he chose to cover up child sex abuse to protect a football program, Posnanski had difficulty writing that.

Engaging in a calculus of whether Paterno's "mistakes" offset his achievements is a fool's errand (*), because it imputes a level of respect to him that is no longer deserved. The things Paterno got credit for may well have been true to an extent (as banal as they were), but his legacy was so colored by what we did not know about the man's character as to be a myth. If Paterno were the one who had actually raped children, people would be able to see this, but since he "merely" covered up for it people get lost.

(*) Yes, yes, I know that Posnanski specifically states - e.g., in his USA Today column - that he is not doing this, and that he takes no position on it; he merely lets the reader make up his own mind. But Posnanki *is* doing it, because if he weren't, he *would* take a position on it - a position that is so simple and clear that anyone who doesn't take a position on it has actually taken a position.
   285. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 20, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4212825)
From NYTimes: Mr. Posnanski does not let Paterno off the hook. He calls Penn State’s and Paterno’s response to early indications of Sandusky’s depravity “sickeningly inadequate.” But he sets Paterno’s inaction in context: he was old, a bit befuddled and — a sin in football — he simply took his eyes off the ball. He’d stayed far too long as head coach, and was not the man he once had been.

So his greed and ego took him down.

   286. GregD Posted: August 20, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4212868)
Why was Paterno supposed to be so great? Because he won football games, while following the recruiting rules and seeing his players graduate at an acceptable rate. I mean, no, he didn't really directly help them graduate -- in fact, if anything, a student spending countless hours a week on football detracts from that goal if that was a true goal of Paterno's -- but they graduated. Whoop dee doo.

One reason Paterno was so "respected" is because of his character. But when it turned out that his character was so morally bankrupt that he chose to cover up child sex abuse to protect a football program, Posnanski had difficulty writing that.

Engaging in a calculus of whether Paterno's "mistakes" offset his achievements is a fool's errand (*), because it imputes a level of respect to him that is no longer deserved. The things Paterno got credit for may well have been true to an extent (as banal as they were), but his legacy was so colored by what we did not know about the man's character as to be a myth. If Paterno were the one who had actually raped children, people would be able to see this, but since he "merely" covered up for it people get lost.

(*) Yes, yes, I know that Posnanski specifically states - e.g., in his USA Today column - that he is not doing this, and that he takes no position on it; he merely lets the reader make up his own mind. But Posnanki *is* doing it, because if he weren't, he *would* take a position on it - a position that is so simple and clear that anyone who doesn't take a position on it has actually taken a position.
I agree 100%. If Paterno had been Bill Curry and gone 3-8 or something, no one would give two craps about his character, not least Joe Pos.
   287. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 20, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4212928)
you know this really infuriates me. the suggestion that as one ages one loses character and the ability to tell right from wrong.

the more i read joe pos' stuff the angrier i become

excusing someone's moral failure due to age.

that is such utter bs.

   288. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4212929)
No, see Paterno had character because he didn't cheat. Which reminds me of this Chris Rock act. (NSFW of course)
   289. Topher Posted: August 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4212979)
Why was Paterno supposed to be so great?


I'm not taking this as a direct shot at you Ray. I have little doubt that you believe you are going to accomplish much more in your life -- and things much more meaningful -- than what Joe Paterno did as a football coach. And while I don't know your accomplishments, I might very well believe that as well.

But for myself and probably 90%+ of the population, Paterno did an awful lot more than we could hope to achieve. Before the Sandusky thing changed *everything*, Paterno was believed to be a man who (1) did things above the board in a sport where everybody else is assumed to be cheating, (2) he built character in men that is theoretically inherent to football (for those that believe in the sport) but was "obviously" better at it due to the graduation rates, and (3) unlike all those other greedy coaches who made their millions by cheating, he gave his millions back to PSU, most notably to the library. The fact that he did all of this while running a program that was in the running just about every season for a national title just made the legend that much more impressive.

Now all that came crashing down, but before that happened I don't find it too hard to for folks like myself to look at the myth and be extremely impressed with Paterno's accomplishments. Going by the legend, Paterno had positively impacted the lives of hundreds (thousands?) directly in his coaching and impacted thousands of others in his charity.

I'd consider myself to have done something great if my impacts could touch 1/100 of those that the Paterno legend allegedly did. To me, the question would have been why wouldn't we have considered him great. So if you are Posnanski and you have that opinion even before you start your "research" which was likely just him talking with those in Paterno's circle that told unknown tales of the man's generosity and charity, wouldn't that make Paterno's hero stature even more impressive. I can't imagine any of Posnanski's "research" was revealing any type of a dark side to the man. So when the reality of the Sandusky affair hits him smack in the nose, I'm not at all surprised that it dazed Posnanski in a way that had him torn, conflicted, etc..
   290. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:12 PM (#4212997)
I find the reviews suggest a book near the worst case scenario for what I had imagined the book to be. How terribly sad for Posnanski.

If there's a lesson to take from this whole mess for our own lives, it's that small events can have disproportionate import. I don't doubt that Paterno spent only a few hours of his whole life contemplating the Sanusky mess before it blew up, and that Posnanski's account is true in that regard, that Paterno didn't view Sandusky as important and did not engage in a well-devloped plan to keep the Sandusky matter quiet. But that's not relevant, is it? Paterno's knee-jerk response to what he heard was DONT ENDANGER THE PROGRAM and those who worked with him followed his wishes. Paterno may have had a lifetime of good works undone by 3 hours of self-interested, perhaps "inadvertant" evil, but that's that.

Because Paterno had let his reputation and his obsession with his works consume him, he put himself in a position where he truly could commit "banal" evil - evil that was ordinary and not thought-out and flowed naturally from the course of his affairs. Paterno is horrifying because he is not a damaged monster like Sandusky, but someone like you or I who demonstrates how one can do great evil without being "evil".
   291. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:12 PM (#4212998)
I'm not taking this as a direct shot at you Ray. I have little doubt that you believe you are going to accomplish much more in your life -- and things much more meaningful -- than what Joe Paterno did as a football coach.


Actually, I don't believe this at all. I don't think my life will be any more meaningful than Paterno's legend was. I just don't think the things he did as a football coach are "great." And I'm surprised that anyone other than a child would think so.

He was a gym teacher with a bankrupt moral compass.

But for myself and probably 90%+ of the population, Paterno did an awful lot more than we could hope to achieve. Before the Sandusky thing changed *everything*, Paterno was believed to be a man who (1) did things above the board in a sport where everybody else is assumed to be cheating,


I mean this seriously: Who cares?

(2) he built character in men that is theoretically inherent to football (for those that believe in the sport) but was "obviously" better at it due to the graduation rates,


I don't really buy the whole "sports is character" thing.

and (3) unlike all those other greedy coaches who made their millions by cheating, he gave his millions back to PSU, most notably to the library.


But he still kept millions. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but let's not go overboard here.
   292. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4213003)
But he still kept millions. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but let's not go overboard here.


Wait ... what? He didn't go live on an ashram somewhere & serve the poor?

I've been misled!
   293. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4213004)
I don't think my life will be any more meaningful than Paterno's legend was. I just don't think the things he did as a football coach are great. And I'm surprised that anyone other than a child would think so.


That's because you're a pod.
   294. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4213005)
If there's a lesson to take from this whole mess for our own lives, it's that small events can have disproportionate import. I don't doubt that Paterno spent only a few hours of his whole life contemplating the Sanusky mess before it blew up, and that Posnanski's account is true in that regard, that Paterno didn't view Sandusky as important and did not engage in a well-devloped plan to keep the Sandusky matter quiet.


Is there ANY evidence that Paterno was worried about the children rather than his program? Any, at all, until the night he was fired and uttered his "and by the way, say a prayer for those kids" comment?

Any evidence at all? Because I've not had a chance to read the entire Freeh report yet, but from what I can recall I've seen none. Not in his words, not in his actions, not in the emails of the others.

Does Posnanski present any? The excerpt I've read has Paterno completely focused and consumed by what this will do to his name and legacy.

But that's not relevant, is it? Paterno's knee-jerk response to what he heard was DONT ENDANGER THE PROGRAM and those who worked with him followed his wishes. Paterno may have had a lifetime of good works undone by 3 hours of self-interested, perhaps "inadvertant" evil, but that's that.


And it wasn't just "3 hours," or "one decision," either. Paterno had years to reconsider his "decision."
   295. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4213007)
As to the library -- WARNING, MEANINGLESS PSYCHOBABBLE EVALUATION AHEAD -- Paterno seems the type of vain, self-centered person to whom it would be worth millions to him just to have his name on the library - rather than the other way around, where he donates millions out of the goodness of his heart and then they happen to put his name on it.
   296. smileyy Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4213013)
But for myself and probably 90%+ of the population, Paterno did an awful lot more than we could hope to achieve.


Paterno was viewed as some sort of great father figure, instilling direction and purpose in men, while doing something that mattered to a lot of people. The smashing of the worldview was twofold:

* He wasn't a great moral compass
* What he was doing wasn't all that important, when put into perspective
   297. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:32 PM (#4213021)
A man coaching football while presumably not cheating was thought to be a great man.

People have really lost their way.
   298. bfan Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4213033)
Why was Paterno supposed to be so great? Because he won football games, while following the recruiting rules and seeing his players graduate at an acceptable rate. I mean, no, he didn't really directly help them graduate -- in fact, if anything, a student spending countless hours a week on football detracts from that goal if that was a true goal of Paterno's -- but they graduated. Whoop dee doo.


I had a child who played a D-1 sport, and I find most of this just flat out wrong. HC's (any sport) can be supportive of the athlete's academic side of life; indifferent to the academic side of life; or destructive to the academic side of life. Those HC attitudes permeate through the program and the assistant coaches. If PSU football players graduated in higher percentages than other like schools, it is most likely attributable to Paterno pushing the academic side; making practice flexible enough so kids could get classes that they needed to get for the major; forcing attendance at study halls; and generally not tolerating crappy academic performance.

And following the recruiting rules? You trivialize that? There are so many coaches out there who cheat; if paterno was never caught cheating in his high-profile program in his eaons of coaching, you can be assured that he was not cheating at recruiting, while many of his competitors were.

I get his indifference to the crimes here were terrible, but you paint a braod brush here. I may think that Jessica Alba is a bad acress, but that doesn't mean that she is a whore and a thief, too. Give credit where credit was due, and weigh the bad acts with the good.
   299. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4213036)
Paterno was viewed as some sort of great father figure, instilling direction and purpose in men, while doing something that mattered to a lot of people. The smashing of the worldview was twofold:

* He wasn't a great moral compass
* What he was doing wasn't all that important, when put into perspective


I've never fully understood the "father figure" bit when it comes to football coaches and 18-22 year old men. I was that age and went to college and had teachers and never once would the thought of them being "father figures" to me have ever crossed my mind.

Sure, there are the guys who come from broken homes whose fathers are either missing or not very good at the job, but the whole point of exposing them to a place like Michigan or Penn State or Stanford or Notre Dame is to give them an opportunity to find life influences in people other than their football coach. Or at least it should be.

Neither Penn State nor Paterno were necessary even for the "father figure" model to work. There are plenty of other places guys that went to Penn State could have gone where the coach and school would have done just as much for them as Penn State and Paterno.
   300. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4213041)
... and don't kid yourself, by the 2000s, Paterno was recruiting just as many criminals as many, many other programs and doing just as much to have their crimes overlooked.(*) He enabled the "Let's bring criminals to campus" movement that has permeated college sports in the last 15-20 years as much as anyone else.

(*) Perhaps more, if you believe the reoprts of him approaching the people in charge and demanding plenary jurisdiction over his players' crimes -- reports fully consistent with the man we now know better.
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