Disappointment in Happy Valley

By Gary Levitt

No, I am not talking about the loss to a well-prepared Ohio Bobcat team.

It is not going to be easy replacing the greatest coach in college football history, along with one of the best assistant coaching staffs ever assembled. Joe recruited against schools where the “football culture” actually does trump academics. With a talent pool of true student-athletes we should have been competing at the level of Northwestern or Vanderbilt. We won championships without ever bending or even shading the rules because Joe and Scrap and the rest of the staff squeezed every ounce of talent out of their teams. They were very seldom out-coached. Those would be very big black Nikes to fill even in the best of circumstances. It will be a long, long time before any NCAA program again achieves a record of 75% wins and 85% graduation rates. That is a record of success with honor that can never be vacated.

The disappointments came off the field.

It was disappointing when 15,000 Penn Staters showed up to support the team and the new coaches at a Friday night pep rally, but were not given a chance to express their gratitude to the man who built the program and made the University what it is today.

After 61 years he deserves better.

It was disappointing when thousands of enthusiastic fans greeted the team busses and an “athletic department official” shut down someone leading a JoePa chant.

After 61 years he deserves better.

It was disappointing when an ESPN reporter said he went into the Lasch Building and could not find a single mention of our Hall of Fame coach.

After 61 years he deserves better.

It was disappointing that 100,000 Nittany Nation loyalists came and filled the stands for the first football game since Joe died, and there was absolutely no recognition of the man who built that stadium and coached every game most of them had ever seen.

After 61 years he deserves better.

It was disappointing that the BigTen televised a tribute to Conference legends and used a clip of John Cappelletti with his Heisman Trophy (even though he never played in the BigTen) instead of showing Penn State’s legendary coach.

After 61 years he deserves better.

And it was disappointing that Sue Paterno watched the first half from Franco Harris’ box without ever being mentioned or saluted on the fancy electronic scoreboards. Franco said it was a very emotional time for her and then she left at halftime to watch a grandson play in his league’s game.

She deserves better. And so do we all.

We deserve leaders that are ready and willing to stand up to the prevailing winds and announce to the world that Joe Paterno made this University a better place for generations of Penn Staters and that he and his contributions will never be forgotten.

WE ARE ready to move on from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

And WE ARE ready to move on to support our current and future student-athletes and their coaches.

And WE ARE even ready to move on to forgive those who made mistakes under pressure, as long as they admit those mistakes and do everything possible to rectify them.

But WE ARE never going to move on if it means forgetting our traditions and the heroes who made us who WE ARE today.

Never.

After 61 years WE know better.

32 thoughts on “Disappointment in Happy Valley

  1. This is EXACTLY how I feel! Thank you for posting. I can support this football team and our new coach 100% and also feel shame, disgust and sadness over what this BoT is doing to the name of Joe Paterno.

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    1. The pep rally just deflated us. We wanted so badly to be behind them. And we ARE behind the players, and hope the best for them and support them. But the ABSENCE of JoePa’s memory is what haunted and anchored down the day… the most poignant part of it was taking my 6.5 year old daughter to where the statue was where she helped me stand up the JoePa bobblehead that was near to the other items set up as a default memorial. JoePa, we miss you. SuePa, we’re with you. Penn State… do better.

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  2. Well said. I expected as much when I heard Bob was putting names on our jerseys. Erickson, Peetz and Bob are doing what the NCAA never could…destroying Penn State.

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    1. Dave — I think Coach O’Brien is in a difficult position. He was hired by and his boss is the acting athletic director. David Joyner is calling the shots and he is determined to erase the Paterno name and legacy.

      Here is the good news: if BO’B wins he will become untouchable and will, I believe, feel free to speak his own mind. Everything I’ve heard from him off the record has been respectful of Joe. He knows .

      If, on the other hand, he turns out to be a disappointment, the most important decision Joyner made will have been a critical mistake.

      Either way, Joyner’s days are numbered.

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  3. those problems on the field can be fixed with a good coach and a receptive player. The problems with the BoT seem beyond repair. With the exception of a few, they can neither listen nor speak words of inspiration.

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  4. Great post Gary – expresses my thoughts exactly. It made me sick watching that BigTen legends piece and not seeing the image of the finest coach in the history of college football — Joe Paterno.

    By trying to blot out Joe, in effect, the BOT is saying to the us — we would like to blot out you too because you support Joe and you recognize all that he did for Penn State — not only on the football field but in every other area of the university.
    Joe is part of us and the more that the BOT and Joyner and Erickson try to deny him, the more all of us will refuse to allow that to happen. They keep making the rift wider and deeper rather than attempting to bring us all together.

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  5. Gary,
    A beautiful expression of the sentiments felt by a great many of us. Thank you.
    Coach O’Brien, his staff and of course the players have nothing by my whole-hearted repsect and best wishes. They have a very tough road ahead of them and deserve our every support. But the obvious elimination on campus of all references to Joe Paterno and his great legacy makes me sick, and holding little but contempt for a BOT and university administration who sanction it. It likely will take a long time to rectify a great injustice done to a great man, his wonderful wife and family, but it can be done. It must be.

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  6. Gary, really great, I am right on board until you got to the forgiveness part.

    If they admit their mistakes and do everything possible to rectify those mistakes. . . It would be more realistic to expect the sun to rise in the west.

    Power and control is their goal and purpose. Athletics, football with national respect is not their goal if it resembles anything like the enlightened freedom Joe Paterno had. When Joe spoke people listened. NO ONE else at the University had that influence. Joe answered to his personal values not the Administration or the BoT. He respected them, but he was not constrained by their limitation and narrow agendas. He earned his bully pulpit. They could not control him or the attention the football program earned.

    The NCAA did what the BoT could not do, crush the football program and discredit a legend that they could not control. And the Freeh Report was perfect fodder. Correct it? Why put your finger prints on it, just accept it, the NCAA will do the rest. Power and control, now the BoT and Administration have a directive to hire more consultants to put things in order.

    Does anyone honestly think that the majority of the BoT and senior Administration are any different than that at any other major university, the Big Ten or the NCAA. Did you ever see a sign on their walls saying ‘Bring your enlightenment here to help us serve you better.’

    Of what value are Alumni and Friends? Not their ideas how to improve the operations or reach our goals. The most important value of the Alumni is a source of money, especially big money for capital improvements. Read the Expectations for members of the BoT. #3 Make sure the University is a top philanthropic priority. Further down the list; express your ideas inside, but conform to group think on the outside. Do not let the world think that there is more than one way to skin a cat, not even the people you represent. After you have expressed it once, keep your enlightenment to yourself.

    It is not that our money isn’t important and nice, but aren’t they interested in what we think and what we have experienced and want to share. Power and control, in the extreme is tyranny. Responsible Stewardship is exercising power and control for a purpose greater than one self and one’s own point of view. We have work to do.

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    1. Jeff, I agree with you. With a couple of exceptions (Joel Myers and Al Clemens, so far) this board and this administration seem incapable of governing in the best interest of Penn State. Like many corporate drones, CYA seems to be their only guiding principle. That’s why we have to stay focussed on electing Trustees we can Trust and a new Givernor in 2014.

      With a majority on the BoT, Erickson, Peetz and Joyner will be gone and we can Restore Joe and the Roar to OUR Penn State. In the meantime, stay strong and fight on.

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  7. Once again, ps4rs, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your candor, dedication and principles that will hopefully make a difference in the long term. I support you completely specifically and mention this organization often to my friends. Have we tried telling the story of this organization with a positive supporter from the media? (No pun intended)

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    1. Thank you, Ann, for your support and participation. Actually, Maribeth Schmidt does a great job keeping the media informed. She is a very well-respected public relations professional and has stood up to the BoT’s $100k per month consultants and delivered our message effectively. We are very fortunate to have Vault Communications pro bono services. Google them. You’ll be impressed.

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  8. Gary: You have expressed the thoughts of those who truly care about PSU, its past and future, remarkably well. I was, as were others to whom I spoke, embarrassed and tremendously saddened after attending the pep rally and game where no mention of Joe or Sue was made. The BOT in its faux sanctimonious way heaped pain and anguish upon Joe and his family from the start-and continues to do so. The fans-and true Penn Staters-in particular those who read the Freeh report and know it to be trash unworthy of a middle school project, containing not an iota of proof in its leap to destructive conclusions of the most despicable kind-those fans, ache to honor Joe, Sue, and our traditions. That ability to honor will inspire. We need to do so before the BOT destroys the faith of our fans, our alumni, our benefactors. (Incidentally, why would the BOT-not having read the report or questioned its logic- authorize Freeh to hold a news conference where he could bash former employees-one deceased? When did any employer, let alone a university with a law school, ever so act in a manner allowing for character assassination without any process afforded its employees, due or otherwise? If the BOT didn’t know such action was improper, it begs the question why the former federal judge -the six million dollar guy-didn’t know such was totally unacceptable not only from a moral standpoint but highly irresponsible from a legal aspect.)

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  9. Beautifully written, Gary. After attending Saturday’s game ,with not so much as a flash on the scoreboard screen recognizing Coach Paterno I was heartsick. The thought came to mind that it will not be long before many of the incoming students will be at a “Joeless” university. They will be moving forward in accordance with the BOT’s plan and orchestration with little care for history and tradition. Thank God for people like you and our ps4rs organization who are taking action NOW to prevent this from happening. We must all work diligently to assure that the damage that most of the BOT has thrust upon us is dealt with as quickly as possible and you have been one of the warriors on the front line. Again, Thank you.

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  10. Well said…I did not attend PSU, nor do I even live anywhere near State College, but I am appreciative of this website. It’s comforting to read the posts and comments. Coach Paterno was (is) a coach I admire and strive to model my own humble coaching career after.Penn State’s tradition is one I have always admired. Penn State’s “Success with Honor” is something I try to implement in my own little way with the kids I coach.

    I am very glad to know that there are still good people out there who want to see justice served, as I do. I am glad there are still people out there who feel the same way about the BOT’s actions as I do. I am very glad to see so many people who actually care about what happened and want to make it right.

    The first college football game I ever watched that I can remember was the Miami-PSU bowl game in ’87, and I’ve been a fan of the Athletics Department and the University ever since. Thanks for letting me share. Best wishes to everyone who makes this site work.

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  11. I miss Joe too, but time to move on. It’s Bill’s turn. Support the guys playing. I was scolded by people around me in the stands because I was yelling on almost every OU offensive play, to try and help our guys. Using the “They don;t acknowledge Joe) as an excuse to miss a game doesn’t help our guys on the field. Or our reputaion around the country, when they see so many empty seats on the east stands from the cameras in the press box. We can celebrate Joe publicly, the university can’t. They need 50,000 to 60,000 applications to keep coming each year, to keep the 90,000 student / faculty university going as strong as it is.

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    1. Mark, our reputation was ruined by Erickson and Peetz. If the “New” Penn State wants to tell me that the Penn State I graduated from was so terribly flawed that we need to erase all memory of it then I won’t support that. I have notified the Alumni Association to discontinue all correspondence to me and have modified my estate planning until such time as Erickson, Peetz and the other traitor BOT members are gone! Accepting the NCAA sanctions, denying Joe and filling a seat just to save the ‘New’ Penn State are not in alignment with the moral compass I learned from Joe and others at my Penn State.

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    2. Mark: I’ve read the prior posts, and I don’t think anyone was endorsing missing any games because our inept BOT/President decided to erase Joe Paterno from Beaver Stadium. In fact, the reason why I joined PS4RS was their mission statement of supporting PSU’s football program. To me, when someone states “it’s time to move on,” it raises a red flag. It’s analogous to a bad break-up. Not only was there no closure, there’s no discussion, period. That’s what our current administrators have done. They blotted out Joe Paterno to appease the ignorant masses and the NCAA.

      How can we “move on” when there has been a horrific injustice committed by majority of the BOT and current President and A.D.? Ken Frazier and Tom Corbett hired Freeh to justify the board’s firing of Joe Paterno. My guess is that the BOT feared an eventual wrongful termination lawsuit by the Paterno Family, and specifically requested Freeh to conclude that Joe Paterno was part of the “cover-up” to justify his firing. Paterno’s reputation and 61 years body of work is beyond redemption without any credible evidence — so how can “moving on” be the solution?

      Personally, I grew up in Central, PA, and have either attended and/or watched Penn State football team on TV all my life. My parents who are in their 60s have only known Joe Paterno as the head coach — you tell people who grew up in Central, PA that the solution is to “move on,” and they’ll tell you that supporting the current team/BO’B is not mutually exclusive with supporting due process for Joe Paterno.

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    3. I am always surprised by the “move-on” supporters, whose main proponents are Erickson and the BoT. Here is a short list of what PSU has gotten in the wake of “move-on”: 1) unjustified NCAA sanctions, 2) a misrepresentation of the facts of the case that do not help the victims, 3) possible violations of Title IX and accreditation issues, 4) financial hardship, and 5) irreparable damage to the PSU brand.

      Now, without the efforts of PS4RS and like-minded individuals, here is what the “move-on” strategy will likely net for PSU’s future: 1) Lower quality of students accepted into PSU due to the diminished brand resulting in a lower academic standing , 2) higher tuition costs to cover financial liabilities and reduced alumni contributions – also lowering the quality of new incoming students, 3) Football team in disarray due to the unfair NCAA sanctions. Note that folks point to those players who stayed in 2012 as a great sign of strength. It was, but the real test will be 2013 when a) PSU players will relate that 2012 road trips were hell due to the relentless name calling and negative media attention (b) new potential recruits will have greater options for themselves since they won’t have to make a decision regarding the choice of school so late in the process, and (c) decline in the program with reduced scholarships also lowering the quality of incoming players.

      The only way to a bright PSU future with true justice for the victims is the complete exposure of the facts of the case. The only people served by misplacing the blame of this mess in Joe Paterno’s coffin are those who do not have Penn State’s best interests in mind.

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  12. You mentioned the Big 10 commerical showing John Cappelletti. I remembered that commercial from last year so I specifically watched it when it came on, because last year it ended with Tamba Hali in his cap and gown, hugging Joe. That clip was removed. How can you have a conference with divisions named Leaders and Legends and erase a Legend from everything??

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  13. Gary thank you again for putting my feelings into such eloquent words. In the winter I was prepared to support Erickson/O’Brien as they tried to steer the Penn State ship thru a storm (media and otherwise). While I will continue to support O’Brien as he tries to focus his team in circumstances no coach has ever had to face-the traitor Erickson and the BofT are beyond my disgust.
    I wish I had a magic ball to tell us the future so we could chart our coarse and right the wrongs-the endless missteps by the Board and Erickson leave me scratching my head. When will it end? It makes me SO sad that the Paterno family has been treated as they have. I would do almost anything to change this- but I feel helpless to do much of anything helpful. I write letters, and send emails- but it doesn’t seem to help. Maybe on day the tide will turn- I have to believe that it will and continue to gleen inspiration for this blog. Thank you!

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    1. Susan- Continue your efforts. My daughter’s hat she got in State College as a graduation gift last spring says it all… “Believe.”

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  14. Beautifully written. You mirror my sentiments exactly. WE ARE never going to forget JoePa. He built Penn State; he is worth his legendary reputation. He is being framed, but WE KNOW better. He was and always will be my hero. The right man is in prison. I will support the new coach and the new team but I will always respect and honor Joe Paterno.

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