Happy Thursday, stormtroopers.
The Empire grew yesterday. At a cookout I attended with my wife and friends, the conversation inevitably turned to the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer (not all were as enamored with him as we are), and the coming football season. Completely independently, one of the partygoers mentioned that they had seen a “stormtrooper decorated like an OSU helmet at a game one time.”
Ring the damn bell.
Perspective (and those who lack it)
“Joe Paterno had confidence in the way he lived,” McGinn said. “He believed his life record would speak for itself.” – Sports Illustrated, July 3rd, 2012, quoting the Paterno family spokesman (don’t quit your day job)
I realize that this subject has been thoroughly dissected by commentators far more intelligent and articulate than I. I realize that this is an Ohio State blog, but it’s a slow news day and I’ve had thoughts on this issue that need to be shared.
Joe Paterno was right.
His life record does speak for itself, but it doesn’t paint the picture that he believes. The emails released last week speak volumes about the kind of man Joe Paterno was. He was a supremely powerful football coach who failed to use his considerable influence to help abused children when confronted with the most potent moral dillema he would ever face.
It’s easy to call Paterno a victim of circumstance. If he passed the information he received about Sandusky on to his superiors and was then manipulated into silence, perhaps his legacy could survive. But that version of the story ignores State College’s dirty secret: Paterno ran the school. I have the benefit of knowing someone who was connected to the Penn State program years ago, and he’s told me that, during his time there, there was nobody more powerful at the school than Joe Paterno. That fact illuminates a fundamental truth that seems to have eluded part of America: if Joe Paterno wanted justice for Sandusky’s victims, nobody would have stood in his way.
I’m not going to connect this to Ohio State by comparing Jerry Sandusky to tattoos. It’s a cheap point no matter who makes it. And the issues at stake in how Paterno is remembered are more significant than anything that’s ever happened on a football field.
What’s at stake is the kind of country we want to be.
We hold celebrities in high regard. That’s especially true of sports figures, probably because what they do connects to us on a visceral level. The best of the best are lionized, despite any mitigating personality faults. But when such a figure so blatantly violates our basic moral principles, the regard we have for him should become immediately secondary to our responsibility as people.
It can be persuasively argued that those who run athletic programs are far more revered than they deserve to be, in part because of the corrupt institution they’ve forged. But there are true heros in the profession: those who use their positions of power to boost up underprivileged and defenseless children. Many of them have coached in Columbus. Many of them will someday coach in Happy Valley.
With one notable exception. Tear down his statue.
Former Buckeye commit geauxs South
At the end of April, DE Lewis Neal “reopened his commitment” days after he gave a verbal pledge to Urban Meyer that he’d be headed to Columbus to play football. Nobody seriously thought that he’d end up back at Ohio State after leaving Meyer at the alter. He made it official on Wednesday by committing to Les Miles and LSU, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
The nice thing about recruiting is that there are literally dozens of hungry kids lined up to take his place. It’s tempting to overreact to bad news, but projecting high school players into college is a crapshoot.
The best of luck to Lewis as he heads South. But someone should tell him that the Buckeyes are coming for him in some future college football playoff. We’ll get him back.
Welcome to a two day week, y’all.