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Of Mice and Men: What Happened in State College

By Stephen McDonald

Joe Paterno Statue, State College, PA (Photo courtesy of

I don’t have to tell you what happened at Penn State. If you are reading this site, you know who Joe Paterno was, and you know what Jerry Sandusky did. Everything has come to light, and the atrocities are exactly what you feared most. What we all feared most. College Football’s grandfather was a liar and a coward.

You can spin this anyway you want, but the recent evidence is unavoidable; Paterno and the leadership at Penn State knew what was going on, and they chose to do nothing about it. People defending Joe Paterno need to remember that and hold their tongues for awhile.

However, we have to treat this with rationality. Writing a thousand words about how awful something or someone is does nothing to help the situation. I shouldn’t have to convince you that what happened in State College was evil. So I am not here to give you the daily two-minute hate that is nothing but a search for hits or pageviews or whatever form of digital attention exists in this medium.

Joe Paterno made a mistake, a hideous one. But that does not mean that we should throw our rage in that direction. Joe Paterno is dead, Jerry Sandusky is going to die in prison, and everyone else responsible will either die in prison, or die with the knowledge of what they did. I am not sure what is worse.

The university itself is going to face a federal investigation, and millions of dollars in civil cases. Not to mention immeasurable cost of public shame for the remainder of this generation. There is nothing for us to say, nothing for us to write. The damage, the unspeakable, untreatable, ocean of damage has been done and our pithy comments don’t make the victims’ lives any better.

For the average person this scandal will fade away in a year or so, and something else will take its place in the national spotlighr of hatred. But for the college football fan this will forever serve as a warning to the power of a program. It will serve as a warning to what can happen when a coach becomes an idol before he becomes a memory. We don’t know what will happen to Penn State or what will become of the football program, but this unspeakable crime and the equally appalling apathy of those in charge should leave a deservedly ugly stain on Happy Valley for a long time.

Penn State has become the prime example of what can happen when the people in charge do nothing to stop a monster.


The views or opinions expressed in this article do not necessairly represent the views of KRUI, Student Broadcasters Inc., or the University of Iowa.

(Cover photo courtesy of

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