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Berry Tramel: Penn State not quite in a Happy Valley

BERRY TRAMEL COMMENTARY — The scandal surrounding Penn State and its football program has to be the final straw that breaks the back of Joe Paterno's coaching career.
by Berry Tramel Published: November 8, 2011

Happy Valley, they call it. State College. An idyllic college town in the Pennsylvania hills.

Never been, myself, but thousands upon thousands have and came away with the same report.

Pleasantville. A black-and-white world that never changed, from the football uniforms of the local college to the name on the football coach's office to the general belief that this magical hamlet had found a way to stare down time.

But if you saw “Pleasantville,” you know things can't stay the same. And things have changed in the valley once was known as Happy.

Penn State's innocence is gone. Joe Paterno's reputation is in tatters.

College football knows scandal. Scam Newton was a scandal. Reggie Bush was a scandal. Hart Lee Dykes was a scandal.

Penn State is not scandal. Criminal charges against former Nittany defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for repeated child-sex abuse? That's not scandal. That's profanity.

The school's long-time trinity of Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley and president Graham Spanier knowing of the allegations nine years ago and doing nothing? That's not scandal. That's immoral.

This has to be the end of the most remarkable coaching career in American history. I don't mean after a bowl game. I don't mean after the Big Ten championship game. I don't mean after Penn State's regular-season finale at Wisconsin.

I mean now. Curley, charged with perjury, already has been stripped of his duties. How can Penn State leaders – if there are any left in State College – allow Spanier to preside or Paterno to coach?

How can Penn State allow Paterno to address his team in practice? How can Penn State allow Paterno to run through the Beaver Stadium tunnel with his team Saturday as the Nittany Lions play Nebraska?

Evidence is mounting that a Paterno lieutenant raped little boys, and when another Paterno staff member alerted his boss, Paterno had two reasonable options. Form a posse or call the cops.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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