We’ve had all angles covered here on SRI regarding the child sex abuse scandal rocking the Penn State campus. After hearing the heinous allegations against Jerry Sandusky and the apparent bare minimum that Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Mike McQueary, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz all put fourth to protect the innocent children there is also another angle to this tragic story The Penn State student riots. After the Penn State Board of Trustees ruled that Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier were fired, the student body erupted in a way that wasn’t only embarrassing for the university, but our nation as a whole. There’s really only one question to be asked here: What is the right thing to do? People rioted after Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup Finals because they weren’t thinking of the consequences.
The thousands of students marching for Joe Paterno could have been holding a vigil for Sandusky’s victims if they were so concerned, but in the land of Happy Valley all anybody seemed to care about was winning football games over the last decade. Should we be surprised? Lou Holtz has some strong words for the Penn State student body as well as how Joe Paterno handled the whole situation. Lou Holtz joined ESPN Radio New York with Ruocco and Lundberg to discuss his reaction to the news that Joe Paterno would not get a chance to coach another game at Penn State, the initial decision of letting Joe Paterno finish the season despite the alleged child abuse scandal rocking Penn State, what he would have done if he was in Joe Paterno’s shoes and his message to the student body of Penn State during this tragedy.
Last night when you heard the news that Joe Paterno would not get a chance to coach another game at Penn State what was your initial reaction?
“Well I was surprised. I thought they would let him finish out the season, but they decided this would be the best way to put it behind them and say exactly what Joe Paterno’s future is going to be, but I was surprised they didn’t let him finish out the season, but then again the [Board of] Trustees felt they needed to make that choice.”
Do you think the Penn State Board of Trustees should have let Joe Paterno finish out the season?
“Well I don’t know enough about the facts. All I know is what I hear and read and rumors and everything else, but there’s no way I can pass that judgement. I can say we are all alarmed about exactly what happened. I don’t know how in the world you could possibly overlook the different rumors that are going around and if they are true this is a very serious allegation. I mean we are in college athletics to predominately help develop the youth of this country to make them [the children] better and protect them. That is what our society doesn’t have this happen. I think it is devastating for everybody concerned, but particularly the young men involved.”
It’s unfair to put you in Joe Paterno’s shoes and say what would you have done? As somebody who was the face of a national program and was leading it when you get information on that do you feel like it is your duty to follow up because you know that everything falls under your blanket?
“I don’t want to criticize anybody because you can’t evaluate how you would do it if you weren’t in that situation, but looking at it as – you just have to stop and forget the emotional [issues] like this guy was a great coach and he’s responsible for great success because just like this year’s Penn State teams haven’t won because of their defense. I think you also have to understand that I brought this guy to Penn State. I am the guy that hired him. I brought him in. If I hear a rumor. I hear any innuendo and I don’t know what Joe was told.I know if what I hear was true and he was told that, but in any event you are responsible for that. If there is an allegation you have to report that, but I think you also have an obligation because you brought him there. He’s under your jurisdiction. He’s your responsibility. He reflects on everything you do and the program. You have to get to the bottom of it yourself in addition to going to the authorities.
That’s just my opinion. I am a responsible for every coach and every player I brought in. When a player comes in and gets involved in a robbery or anything else along that line you have to – you are responsible – you brought him there. His actions are going to reflect on you. Get to the bottom of it now, but I also understand well I have been with this guy. He doesn’t seem like that type of guy. He was responsible for our success, so that’s just my feeling. I always felt that just stop and ask yourself: What is the right thing to do? This is what the situation is: What’s the right thing to do? If you ask yourself what is the right thing to do and I have an obligation because this university, our people, that individual has gotta conduct themselves properly and if he didn’t? We gotta get to the bottom of it.”
What is your message to the student body of Penn State in the wake of this tragedy?
“I hope you do not have a test tomorrow. This is insane and ridiculous. I would also say this: How in the world does this help the situation? It’s not going to help bring Joe Paterno back. You may feel strongly about it, but your actions aren’t going to do anything else except be destructive. If going over and turning over a TV truck and injuring people and forcing the people to have pepper spray on you is going to resolve the situation – it is not going to do anything. Why don’t do the wrong thing? In this society and I am glad I am an old man. My birthday candles cost more than the cake. I don’t like the direction this country is going where nobody is held accountable for any choices they make. I am going to do what I want to do and what makes me feel good. As Harry Truman said ‘The freedom to swing your fist ends where the other guys nose begins. Your freedom to protest ends where you start destroying other people’s properties and inconveniencing them.’ I just think it’s a bad reflection on Penn State and I just think it’s a bad way for our young people to learn how to react.”