It was never a question of how, but when Joe Paterno would retire. The how had already been answered: as one of the greatest coaches that ever lived and an American icon. The “when” was always rhetorical. Ask any Penn State fan when they thought Joe Paterno would retire and they would reply with a smile “when he’s dead.”
Now it appears both answers are clear and will be answered in the near future. The New York Times is reporting that Paterno’s 46-season tenure will end “perhaps within days or weeks,” something that now makes sense. As the scandal surrounding former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky develops, it is hard to imagine Paterno lasting past this season.
But now Penn State is said to be planning Paterno’s exit, a day that seemed like it would never come. Many imagined Paterno’s last season to be a joyous one, filled with celebrations of the coach’s career and statues built in his honor. Many saw his retirement as one that would go down in history.
No doubt, Paterno’s legacy will go down in history, but his name will forever be shadowed by a dark cloud. Many believe that JoePa, a coach that always referred to his players as “his children” could have protected these children from Sandusky if he would have taken more action. After all, the saying goes “sometimes you do the most by not doing anything at all.”
It is a shame to witness one of sports’ greatest careers end like this, but it’s a far greater shame what is alleged to have happened to the eight boys Sandusky stands accused of molesting. When something like this occurs, actions must be taken and drastic changes must be made, even if that means the end of Joe Paterno.