Talked to my dad the other day.
This week, the old man turned 72. His glasses are thicker now and his belly smaller, but he’s still a world-champion talker. His gift of gab is unmatched.
This week, however, Dad has talked less and read more. See, many years ago, he went to Penn State - right around the time it promoted a hard-working Brooklyn native to coach the football team.
So, this week, Dad has done his best to keep up with the wreckage in State College.
The 40 criminal sex charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The accusations that two administrators failed to alert police - as required by Pennsylvania law - of their investigation into allegations against Sandusky. The cowardice of school president Graham Spanier since news of the scandal broke Saturday.
And forced the retirement of Joe Paterno, the coaching legend whose reputation was squeaky-clean for 46 years.
So, what does Dad think?
Let’s put it this way: How would you feel if your school was home to one of the worst disasters in football history?
As Dad put it: “How the heck could so many smart people be so asleep at the wheel?”
Sandusky, of course, is innocent until proven guilty. He’ll have his day in court. Until then, we’re free to question how the university could’ve completely botched its handling of this thing.
Every school throws out high-minded clichés about athletes and academics, about character and responsibility, about values and ethics.
But across the region, from Altoona to Aliquippa, people believed Penn State was the real thing. The simple uniforms; the Rockwellian setting; the iconic coach with the khaki pants and black sneakers, who won every week and graduated his kids.
My dad, and thousands of others, believed their lives were better because they passed through State College. Now, they’re stunned - not only by the scandal, but at the school’s complete lack of leadership.
Remember, these coaches and administrators are public officials. And suddenly, these public officials don’t want to address the public.
The most Spanier did was give an incredibly arrogant statement Saturday. It not only pledged “unconditional support” for then-athletic director Tim Curley and then-vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz, who were soon unemployed, but not an apology to Sandusky’s alleged victims.
At a time when Penn State needed great leadership, Spanier seemed more concerned with saving his own skin.
It’s enough to make alumni hide their class rings in shame.
Someone owes my dad an explanation. He’s a Penn Stater, and like proud graduates of any school, Penn Staters expect the best from their people.
Evidently, they were expecting too much.