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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 01/07/2012

Penn State is wrong to turn its back on Joe Paterno and those who played under him

First I want to apologize to the whole Penn state community for some of the harsh words I tweeted Friday reacting to the hiring of Bill O’Brien as the new Penn State head football coach. I, like many other Penn State alumni, thought interim coach Tom Bradley should have been treated more fairly in the hiring process. But my reaction was too harsh, and I really hope I can be forgiven for my moment of anger. I was wrong.

After I calmed myself, I re-evaluated my thoughts about this entire issue. I am still upset about how things have been handled by the board of trustees and selection committee during these trying times. Here’s why.

I would’ve liked for decisions to have been made in a much timelier fashion. The longer the committee took to choose a coach the more it created the impression that something more was wrong with the football program. It also became clear to me that the lack of response to the suggestions of those who once played under Joe Paterno showed the committee and board were trying to distance the university as far from Paterno and all things associated with him as they could.

If this was the case, then the decision-makers should have been up front about their intentions. I admit I would have been hurt if this was why football alumni weren’t consulted about the new coach. But I believe many of us would’ve moved on if we knew what their thinking was on the matter. I’m sure some of us would have contested the choice either way, but at least the process would have been honest and open.

This is not an attack on Bill O’Brien or the current football team. Sure, I wanted Tom Bradley to get the job. But at least those of us who backed him would have known why the committee did not select him.

Listen, college football coaching changes take place all the time, and alumni and supporters don’t always need to be at the center of the selection process. But the horrible circumstances surrounding the Penn State football program’s coaching switch made this situation different. The university and all those associated with it needed to come out of this with a united front. It would have helped the school and everyone associated with it begin the process of picking up the pieces. To my dismay, that’s not how things panned out. Instead, the process helped perpetuate a picture first drawn by the media and others about the Penn State football program immediately after the Jerry Sandusky scandal first came to light. This image was in many ways unavoidable, but the way in which they selected a new coach did not help change it.

My last issue is how they treated Bradley. They knew they weren’t going to hire him, but they dragged out the process and then didn’t even show him enough respect to contact him and tell him. He had to find out the same way everyone else did.

I don’t know what’s next — and that’s sad. If others who played at Penn State feel this way, it’s a sad day for the football program.

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?

This hiring represents the board of trustee’s feeling toward all that has happened. In my opinion, the board has concluded that everyone and everything associated with the football team is guilty of a crime that we simply did not commit — and that’s wrong.

Leave your comments here and chat with me on twitter @lavararrington

By  |  11:25 AM ET, 01/07/2012

 
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