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What to do with Joe Paterno's Statue

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on Yahoo! Voices, Tuesday, July 17, 2012


There has been a lot of talk since last week's release of the Freeh Report, which was conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, into the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. The report paints a very unflattering picture of the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, as well as several top administrators at the school, for knowing what Sandusky was up to and not doing anything to stop him.

In the wake of the report, a central issue right now has become what to do with the statue of Joe Paterno that has stood outside of Beaver Stadium since 2001. Some fans want it to stay where it is. Others want to see it moved to another part of the campus and still others want it dismantled and removed altogether.

Here is one suggestion; Why not donate the statue to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend? The statue was originally meant to honor Paterno for his contributions to college football and to the Penn State program. While his legacy may now be forever tarnished by this scandal, there is no denying his place in college football history. What better place is there for the statue to be relocated to? There is even precedence for such a move;

In 2004, a bronze stature of legendary Army head football coach Earl "Red" Blaik was unveiled at the College Football Hall of Fame. Originally, the statue was supposed to be displayed at West Point, where Blaik coached from 1941-1958. During his 18 seasons at the academy, Blaik compiled a record of 121-33-10, had six undefeated seasons, won two National Championships (1944-1945) and coached three Heisman Trophy winners.

However, the academy refused to allow the statue to be placed on campus. Why? Because the base of the statue contains the names of every player who ever lettered under Blaik during his tenure at the academy. Those names include 23 players who broke the school's Honor Code in 1951 and were subsequently expelled as a result of an academic cheating scandal, including Blaik's own son, Bob. Blaik was going to resign when the scandal broke, but he was persuaded to stay by General Douglas MacArthur.

The College Football Hall of Fame is a place that recognizes and preserves the legacies and accomplishments of players and coaches on the football field, regardless of what they did away from the game. And that is the way it should be. It is for that reason that, today, you can go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, as well as the College Football Hall of Fame, and learn about the stellar football career of O.J. Simpson, who is enshrined in both. Simpson is currently in prison in Nevada.

The fans who visit both Halls are only interested in football achievements, and Joe Paterno, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007, certainly had enough on-the-field achievements in his career.

I say let the College Football Hall of Fame have the statue and let it keep the football legacy of Joe Paterno alive. This is what the Hall has been doing for hundreds of other players and coaches for so many years. By moving the statue off the campus, the healing process may finally begin at Penn State.


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