The past 24 hours have proven that America's passion for football has eclipsed its value for human life. And common decency.
Shortly after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees announced that head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were relieved of their positions, effective immediately — in the wake of the shocking child abuse scandal involving a longtime assistant football coach that's rocking the university.
After the charges against assistant Jerry Sandusky came out, the 84-year-old Paterno said he'd "retire" at the end of this season (which would have stretched into January with 8-1 Penn State's bowl game). The board of trustees decided it couldn't let a coach who did little in the wake of being told that his longtime, trusted lieutenant sexually abused a young boy in the football building's shower continue to represent Penn State.
The nightmarish details of the case didn't stop 10,000 students and fans from rioting in opposition to Paterno's firing.
But the nightmarish details didn't stop 10,000 students and fans from rioting in opposition to Paterno's firing. The mob pulled down light posts and toppled a news van, angry at the media's portrayal of Paterno (who never went to the police) as a culprit.
Even Ashton Kutcher tweeted, "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste." The celebrity with 8.2 million followers said later that he mistakenly assumed that Paterno's firing was "due to poor performance as an aging coach." Kutcher has since ceded future control of his Twitter account to his team at Katalyst Media, claiming he wasn't aware of the details of the whole scandal, which has dominated national headlines for days — and were mentioned in every report about Paterno's firing.
On Nov. 4, Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys, and was placed under arrest the next day.
Sandusky was a longtime defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions who authored Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story and founded The Second Mile, a nonprofit program designated to "help children who need additional support and would benefit from positive human interaction."
Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999, but continued to be involved with the university, especially with The Second Mile and the football program. In March of 2002, he was caught subjecting a young boy to anal sex in the team's locker room by then graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary.
A distraught McQueary called his dad for advice. The next day, he recounted the incident to Paterno, who contacted athletic director Tim Curley, who contacted vice president Gary Schultz and university president Spanier.
Sandusky was then somehow allowed to retain emeritus status and unlimited access to Penn State facilities. He was just told not to bring any kids to the university.
No one contacted the police about the incident. Perhaps they knew that doing so would damage the school's football "brand."
The coaches and administrators claim to have contacted Second Mile officials about the shower assault, but in a recent statement, the organization denies knowing anything prior to this week's indictment.
This wasn't Sandusky's only alleged incidence of molestation and sexual abuse: The Grand Jury report details eight graphic instances of child rape and sexual misconduct between 1994 and 2008 (you can read the 23-page document here), emphasizing a long history of coercion and inappropriate relationships with young boys, that included bribery and gifts of tickets to sporting events, electronics, clothing and golf clubs.
Curley and Schultz were charged with perjury in relation to the case, and both stepped down from their positions at the university. Media, activists and some outraged fans called for similar charges for Paterno, Spanier and McQueary.
Still, there's a large segment of fans (at least 10,000 strong apparently) which believes that the record-setting Paterno should be allowed to finish out his 46th season. And people think Ashton Kutcher is clueless?