Say It’s So, Joe

Penn State, which opens its 2005 football season against USF, has had one winning season in the last five. For many observers, that’s reason sufficient to conclude that the game has passed by its legendary coach, 78-year-old Joe Paterno.

It’s all about recruiting, any knowledgeable fan can tell you. The bluest blue chippers don’t see themselves prepping for the pros in boring uniforms under the tutelage of a septuagenarian who looks like he should be re-soling shoes. He might be somebody’s icon — but not theirs.

Now comes this small wire item buried in the sports page last week. It seems that a PSU defensive tackle – one expected to be a key player this year – has been expelled for violating regulations regarding sexual conduct. Specifically, he violated a Code of Conduct about “confining another student against their will.”

Say it ain’t so, Joe. What are you doing in an arena where to be competitive you have to be increasingly dependent on Hessians with attitudes rather than legitimate student-athletes? It shouts volumes when circumstances dictate that a proud university needs to put in writing that it’s not permissible to “confine another student against their will.”

Paterno doesn’t need any more of this. His legacy should have been everything that had happened prior to the last five years. A couple of national championships, a handful of undefeated seasons — and the “noble experiment,” which meant high graduation rates and rare rap-sheet references.

Say it’s so, Joe. Step down after this season before any more high school hot shots know nothing other than a PSU program that loses more than it wins. Step down from compromised standards that result in a written proscription about confining people against their will. And step away from the caliber of players who can’t even abide by that.

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