Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Joe Paterno is a Great Man?

In the wake of the Penn State scandal we keep hearing the following from players and supporters, including other coaching legends like Mike Krzyzewski.   

“Joe Paterno is a great man.”  

No, he wasn’t.   

Joe Paterno was a great college coach.   History has shown us that being a great college coach and being a great man are often incompatable.  

Bobby Knight was a great coach.  He also was incapable of answering a reporter’s question without a profanity, joked about rape, tossed chairs during a game, and acted like a complete jackass on numerous occasions.   

Rick Pitino is a great coach.  He’s also a guy who apparently was well known for getting drunk and cheating on his wife.  His defense?   He was really upset over his brother in law (NOTE: HIS WIFE’S BROTHER!) dying in 9/11.   Stay classy, Rick.   

John Calipari is a great coach.   How great?  Let’s look at his wikipedia entry:

Calipari is the former head coach of the University of Memphis, the University of Massachusetts and the NBA's New Jersey Nets. He is one of only two coaches to direct three different colleges to a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, though two of those seasons have been officially vacated by the NCAA. Calipari is the only head coach to have a Final Four appearance vacated at more than one school, though Calipari himself was not personally indicted by the NCAA while coaching UMass or Memphis.  Calipari has taken one school officially to the Final Four, that being Kentucky in 2011.

Get that?  John is so awesome that he’s had TWO incredible seasons while coaching at TWO DIFFERENT schools erased because of violations of NCAA rules.   I’m sure he knew nothing of his school’s violations.  After all, he was only the COACH!  As a reward for having those two erased seasons, the University of Kentucky figured the third time would be a charm and is currently paying him close to $5 million a season.   

The reality is that these men are not hired to be great men, they are hired to win.   Great men are ones who do the right thing for the right reason.   Great men believe that doing the right thing is more important than doing what is easy, or offers the path of least resistance.   

It’s important to remember that Joe Paterno’s involvement in this scandal was not about an NCAA violation like money getting paid to a player, or Joe Paterno visiting a potential recruit when he wasn’t supposed to.   It was about arguably the most powerful men at Penn State, including their “legendary” coach doing next to nothing about a Penn State representative preying on young boys.     Given that these are educated people in the 21st century, there is absolutely NO excuse for not doing more to make sure that this person was out of the program and brought to justice.    

Joe Paterno is not a great man.  He did what he had to do to protect a college football program and himself.  He made whatever mental excuse he needed to make to excuse Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of the trust of young men.   Given Sandusky’s recent interviews and the numerous reports coming out, it seems impossible to believe that Paterno and his staff didn’t at least have a feeling about him even before an actual incident was witnessed.    But Paterno put Penn State and his own career over the safety of young kids.   That’s not the mark of a great man.   That’s the mark of a weak and selfish man.   That’s the mark of a man who deserves to have his “legendary” status tarnished.