One person's thoughts may change the world
Joe Pa, such a warm and affectionate reference to whom many thought was a wonderful man. Actually, he was a wonderful man. Wonderful because he was able to influence others. The ability to convince others to do what you want them to do. That is what is referred to as leadership. He built a football powerhouse from scratch. He made boys to men and gave them what football gives to many young men, a way to prove your worth on the field, build long-lasting friendships, retain those strict values of discipline in order to succeed, and to transfer those life lessons on the field into the real world. The maker of men, pride, hard work, dedication, team work, the perseverance to achieve while under pressure, to build character.
But while building such a monumental monolith, he forgot one thing, selflessness. Being humble plays a big part of building such a program. Although you may have built the program, you’re not bigger than the program, and the program is not bigger than Pennsylvania State University. “The program” is still subject to rules and regulation of the University’s governing body, and cannot take exceptions because of its largeness. Sort of like the United State’s armed services. They are subject to civilian rule, and answer to the President of the United States… period.
Although I coach, I don’t coach for a living. I don’t make my bread doing what I believe is the near impossible thing to do at times. And I respect that tremendously. It’s far more than just standing on the sidelines barking at players and assistant coaches. You mentor. You build. You collaborate. You break down film. You design your offense and defense. You influence and build boys into young men of character. You recruit. You recruit because you have to go out and build a program around a bunch of young and influential boys and try to turn them into young men to will execute your plan, and at the same time, work hard in school in effort to get a degree… of substance, that is… hmmmmm. Football at the college level, is probably even more intense then at the pro level. So the pressure is unbelievable, the rewards are plentiful, it’s a year round sport. If you get to a bowl, celebration is for one day, then it’s off to the recruiting world to bag your next 5 star recruit. It is a grind and also full of inflated egos. From the player who’s been offered by the “great coach” to the ball boy who throws the next clean ball to the referee.
At times, in a player’s eyes, coaches are almost godlike. They enjoy hearing the things that come out of a coaches mouth. The way he walks, the anger he may display at times. The funny things he may say, as well as things that you accept as constructive criticism in order to help you succeed, and build your character. Watching him, every aspect of him, and how you want to emulate parts of his life as a part of your own.
You’ve built up your program, and the stadium now can seat over one hundred thousand people. “Your” program now brings in significant dollars into the school. Donors and alumni pour in money because of your winning ways, and your no non sense attitude about winning and character building. Penn State benefited from the glow of Joe Pa.
Joe Pa’s demise started way back on January 26, 1983. That was the day Bear Bryant, died. The Bear died just after he decided to retire from coaching, and it also sent a message to those coaches who had “programs”. Don’t quit, otherwise, you will die. Coaching is your life, and it’s embedded into your DNA. Once you break your ties, you’ll have nothing to live for. Nothing to drive you, nothing that can create a pulse in you like football. Your ego needs the aura that is around you and that program. That’s why you see so many old coaches in programs that have been build up by them. Woody Hayes went down with a punch to a Clemson player and soon after, passed away. Bobby Bowden, although not dead, held on to the bitter end. He was afraid, scared, didn’t want to quit. But, January 26, 1983 was the sounding alarm for all of these coaches who give it their all, never quite the program. So Joe Pa drove on, building the mystique of Penn State, and Joe Pa.
So when the critical moment came, when there was an opportunity to protect the program, that’s what Joe Pa did. He wasn’t just protecting the program, he was protecting himself. He wanted to protect his legacy. This wasn’t about the University, it was about him. He was the University, they couldn’t do what they do without him, he said to himself. “I’m the face of the University, not them”, he said to himself. “Hell, most people don’t even know who the leaders are on this campus, but I do”, he said. So basically he said, “No disadvantaged abused child by one of my assistants is going to ruin my legacy”. I want to be the winningest coach in college history, even if I have to “coach” from the press box.
Let’s get something straight, Joe Pa has not “coached” a game in a long time. Any coach who does not wear head phones is not coaching. That’s why Joe Pa needed such a strong staff, to make up for his inequities of coaching. He looked good for the “program” on the sideline with the signature coke bottle glasses. Sure he was good for a press conference one liner. Sure he was good for an interview, but coaching, let’s get real, little league coaches wear head phones, and coach.
So in his arrogance, when the allegations about Sandusky ( dang I said it ) finally came out, Joe Pa arrogantly said, “I’ll finish out my coaching after this season then retire”.
Unbelievable. The board of Penn State had no choice at that point, and they got rid of him. Now there were riots in the streets. Kids got mad on campus, and caused huge problems in their anger on campus. But they got rid of Joe Pa to save face, and protect the program, just as Joe did in order to get the record amount of wins, and maintain his legacy. The story was about Sandusky, Penn State, and Joe Pa. The kids were secondary.
Now that the allegations are all out and all of the sports media and writers have had their say, here is what should be done:
Finally, a public apology to all parties involved, for a misguided program wanting to have the most wins for its coach, and the lack of control to be able to confront a demigod coach who enabled a child molester for the sake of his ego and the program he helped build. In fact, any game over the record should be forfeited, so that his name is removed from every obelisk, tablets, and book.
What use to be a great coach has been reduced to a kooky old man with thick glasses who was a facilitator or enabler for a child molester.
Finally, the statue has to go…
So much for the great Joe Pa….