Penn State football has correct message for Paterno conspiracy nuts



I went through all 198 pages of the 2013 Penn State football media guide and I saw just two pictures, 8 mentions of Joe Paterno. And the PSU SID referenced Paterno only when they absolutely had to. I’m guessing you already know how many mentions of Jerry Sandusky and The Second Mile are in the Penn State football history book.

This shows you that the Penn State football program is doing the right thing in damage control. They’re accepting the NCAA sanctions and moving on; while the “JoeBots” and “Joe Paterno was framed” subset of Nittany Nation still refuses to accept reality. This cadre of Penn State football fans still tries to overturn reality while the actual PSU players are instead working within it.

PSU Safety Malcolm Willis has a solid message.

When it comes to Media Day, you bring the best who will represent your school to the utmost. At Big Ten Media Day, each school brought the three players who are the best in media relations and when possible also the stars of the team. Maybe both when possible. Basically, it’s the top character guys. Penn State football was represented by OL John Urschel, who had the distinguished position of giving the keynote address at the league luncheon, LB Glenn Carson and Safety Malcolm Willis.

I didn’t get the opportunity to speak with Urschel about the program’s recovery from the pedophilia scandal/sanctions, and Carson didn’t offer anything print-worthy in his responses, but Willis assessed it quite well.

“We have a metaphor. We’re on a train, and there are various stops. A year ago was a crazy stop on our train ride,” Willis said,

“After we had our meetings about who was going to stay and who was going to leave, we talked about moving the train forward. We’re still on that train and we need everybody on board. Each game and each practice is a stop on that train.”

So what do you tell the holdouts so that they can get on board?

“The only thing we do tell people is we’re moving forward, why can’t you? The people who were actually affected by what happened and actually suffering the consequences for it, speaking of the football team and the football program- we’re trying to move forward so why can’t everybody else? That’s how we try to get out to the community and get people to get past what happened,” Willis continued.

joe paterno

That’s probably the most important soundbite of the media days; and it coincidentally came from the guy who was probably the best dressed too. The message from Malcolm Willis is one that should be heeded by the lunatic fringes within Nittany Nation.

Obviously, “the people who were actually affected by what happened and actually suffering the consequences for it” are first and foremost the actual victims of Jerry Sandusky. Their welfare and their concerns trump that of the Penn State football program, but it’s not Willis’ place to speak on their behalf. It’s his responsibility to speak on behalf of the Penn State football program; nothing more. And he does a fine job of doing so. I’m sure the leading member of the PSU secondary knows that the team’s attitude about this situation is secondary to the victims of that monster.

But Willis is still a good ambassador. For those Penn State football fans still seeking to redeem Joe Paterno; they’re better off following the word of their star defensive back Malcolm Willis.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, a Fox Sports affiliate. He is also an analyst for 95.7 The Fan, and writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows his Twitter account (@paulmbanks).

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  1. Tom Beatty says:

    I would like to think we are all mature enough and intelligent enough to understand that none of the charges leveled at the football program or the University have yet been proven. So there is no need to rehabilitate anyone there. The courts will move forward with due process and this will all sort itself out. Although you use the “JoeBot” term as a pejorative, many people who have a “wait and see” attitude to the guilt or innocence of Paterno and others are not afraid of that handle on them.
    The rush to judgment was and is very real. That is very much felt by many in the Nittany nation, but it does not get in the way of moving forward and supporting our institution in it’s mission. There is so much to be proud of at PSU that transcends any disagreements with the schools administration. It is foolish to think that support of football or the BOT is the entry fee to the Nittany Nation. We are bigger than that. We can have disagreements and still be a family. There are many “HateBots” that spew hatred while they troll blogs and make unfounded public statements, but the only absolute closure will be after the PSU administrators are able to answer charges in court, where the rules of evidence will separate the hyperbole from the facts, and the fabrications from the truth.
    Its just seems a little desperate when the HateBots get lathered up when some exculpatory finding comes out that makes it look like Paterno may not be the evil man many have painted him as. A good example was the Sollers Report commentary released that found issues with the Freeh report. A huge shout down followed as if some grievous wrong had been committed just because somebody said there is another side to what Freeh opined about. Shouldn’t we all be mature enough to love the young men and women who represent the University in all of its missions, football included, but still want to see due process served. Unfortunately for those who want to “move forward” the pace of that movement will not be uniform in all areas. The “due process” part cannot move faster than the court system.

  2. paulmbanks says:

    appreciate the comments. I’m just trying to praise the message of Bill O’Brien and Malcolm Willis and help them get their PSU mission statement out there.

    There are exceptions, but for the most part Nittany Nation shows a lot more respect when they disagree with me, and are more articulate in presenting their counterarguments than Buckeye Nation is.

  3. Tom Beatty says:

    I couldn’t be more proud of Bill O’Brien, and of course the quality of the student athletes at PSU has always been a source of pride; while there and long after they have left Penn State and gone on with their lives. I agree that BOB has done a remarkable job at the helm of PSU and yes, the future always arrives a little before you are ready to give up the present, but BOB is the future of PSU football. He is a great rallying point to lead the school out of the morass. He has shown great maturity and leadership as have the players.

  4. Howard Young says:

    First of all, Tom Beatty’s post is outstanding!

    Second, moving forward does not mean abandoning the past. I love Joe and Sue Paterno as much as if they were family. What’s been done to his good name is tragic and affects me deeply. Had he been the coach of some non revenue sport, no one would know who he is to this day. The narrative that portrayed his actions in this as insufficient (at best) or on an equal footing with the three administrators facing charges (see Freeh) was contrived because without Joe’s inclusion the problem could not have been contained and distilled into some kind of “culture” problem with football and hero worship as its root.

    And therein lies the problem that the alumni, like myself, have with the trustees. They commissioned the Freeh report. They tacitly accepted Freeh’s conclusions, even though they amounted to nothing more than his opinions.

    There are many who believe that the root problem lies with Gov. Corbett and his ties to the Second Mile. With the media’s 1,000 watt spotlights shining squarely on Paterno, Corbett could hide in the shadows. There may very well be further complicity between powerful members of the Penn State community and the Second Mile, including other board members. As with most scandals, follow the money. We want the truth and we know it will not reveal itself willingly.

    Finally, Bill O’Brien is amazing! The leadership he demonstrated last year in holding things together while facing unprecedented challenges was nothing short of outstanding. His ability to coach those young men and get them to perform at a very high level was superlative. His continued commitment to the scholar side of scholar-athlete made all of us proud. Coach O’Brien deserves every accolade he received and is worth every penny he’s being paid and then some.

    And not enough can be said of the young men themselves. Their commitment to each other and to Penn State was inspirational. They epitomize what Penn State football is about and has always been about. I have no doubt Joe would have been extremely proud of that team.

    Which gets me to my whole point. Supporting the future and honoring the past are not mutually exclusive endeavors. Honest men can and should do both.

  5. Chuck Holt says:

    Yes Tom Beatty’s post was outstanding. It is much more on point than the original article. Writers are just politicians that look for something to get a rise out of readers. I understand that and accept it.
    There was a rush to judgement and we are now seeing more of the NCAA’s shortcomings under Emmert leadership at a cost of 1.6 million a year salary.

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