The Penn State Family Needs to Let Go of the Past, Embrace the Future
By Tony Gerdeman
Former Penn State All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington took to Twitter on Friday to make his outrage about the hiring of Bill O'Brien known to everybody.
Part of his beef was with the Board of Trustees who he claimed did nothing to keep the alleged actions surrounding Jerry Sandusky from happening, and instead the board turned and made Joe Paterno the scapegoat for the entire university administration.
While I agree with him for much of what he says, the term "scapegoat" implies innocence on Paterno's part, and that's just a bit too Pollyanna for my liking.
He even went so far as to tweet the following:
"But until there's a new board and new leadership they can have their corrupt/disgusting school that they've created.
"I'm done all my PSU stuff will be down before obriens introduction! We are! No more for me!"
Of course, it took less than a day for his apologies to start leaking out, but even an apology piece that he wrote for the Washington Post was titled, "Penn State is wrong to turn its back on Joe Paterno and those who played under him".
Is it really turning your back on somebody if you're the only one willing to move forward?
Let's be honest, Joe Paterno has held this football program hostage for over a decade, and if it wasn't for Tom Bradley, he would've had to step down a long time ago.
Instead, he stayed on selfishly, having bought into his own legacy as much as his fans and players had.
You can't move on from the past if the past won't move on from you.
But now, Penn State can finally step into the light, for good and bad, and begin to move forward into whatever might be next.
In his piece for The Post, Arrington also wrote the following:
"It’s okay to have a clean slate when something bad happens. But the way these people went about this entire process has clearly shown a lack of leadership. A clean slate doesn’t mean that a school doesn’t maintain its integrity and tradition. Does a clean slate really mean you have to reject all the history and traditions of the school?"
Is he asking the final question of himself? He's the one that said he was taking all of his Penn State stuff down before Bill O'Brien was even introduced as head coach.
If anybody is rejecting the school's history, clearly it's him and others like him.
He is upset that Bradley didn't get the job, and upset with the way that his former coach was strung along the entire time. I can understand that. What I can't understand is how he thought Bradley had a shot.
Clearly Arrington was too close to the situation to see that Bradley was too close to the "situation".
But it wasn't just Arrington who was upset. Several former prominent alumni were angered that they weren't consulted about the hiring process.
Do you really need to consult with people when you know the answers that they're going to give you?
Alums wanted the job to stay in the Penn State family, but the only Penn State family that wanted the job were members of Paterno's staff, and that's just too toxic a situation to even consider.
Instead, they end up with Bill O'Brien. The only ties he had to Penn State was his vast experience coaching in the northeast portion of the country.
However, he actually wanted to come to Penn State. The candidates that the alumni wanted didn't want them. Can't they at least appreciate the fact that O'Brien wasn't terrified to take the helm?
After weeks of being turned down by coaches of various worth, Penn State finally had one who said yes, and suddenly he is deemed unworthy.
I've long been a believer that every school gets the coach that they deserve at that moment. If you set your sights low, you'll certainly meet your goal. If you set your sights high, and nobody bites, then you just received a very necessary reality check.
Bill O'Brien is Penn State's reality check, but it doesn't mean that that reality is certain doom.
Given the depth of the damage at the university, O'Brien at the very least provides a bridge to the next stage in Penn State's history.
And despite popular opinion, that history is not yet written.
Re-embrace your delusions, Penn State. They will shield you, as they always have, through the dark times.
It's perfectly fine to remember the past, but living in it only keeps you from moving forward.
This is the first step out of the gloom for Penn State. Now it's time for the alumni and fans to lighten up as well.
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