COHN: Scandal should bring down Penn State football

  • FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2009, file photo, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno stands with his players before taking the field for an NCAA college football game against Ohio State in State College, Pa. Paterno and other senior Penn State officials "concealed critical facts" about Jerry Sandusky's child abuse because they were worried about bad publicity, according to an internal investigation into the scandal released Thursday, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

This is about that two-faced, fallen idol Joe Paterno and his monstrosity of a football program and how he and others disgraced a good university. It's also about the so-called death penalty for Nittany Lions football — well deserved. But first I want to talk about religion.

When I want a religious experience, I go to an old, stately synagogue in downtown Oakland. Other people go to church. But more and more, people go to football games and worship at the shrine of football. Football is becoming the secular religion in our society.

This attitude — football is religion — becomes clear when rational people want to impose the death penalty on Penn State, if indeed the NCAA has the power to impose the death penalty in this case. Then all the football religionists, the disciples of Papa Joe, the former prophet and now pretty much a bum, start wringing their hands and dressing in sackcloth and saying how the authorities can't take football away from them.

They sound like religious zealots who believe football, the new religion, is beyond criticism or punishment. That's how holy it is — the First Church of Football. And if you think I'm stretching this religion point, get this. After Paterno died, an artist painted a halo over his head on a mural in downtown State College, Pa. — Joe, the patron saint of college football, because he was such a good man. What baloney.

After the Freeh report came out, the artist removed the halo — you think? — and put a blue ribbon on Paterno's chest symbolizing sympathy for Jerry Sandusky's child victims.

When it comes to football, be an atheist. That goes double for Penn State football.

Why does PSU football deserve the death penalty?

Because what happened in State College, Pa. is the worst scandal in the history of college sports. There have been payoffs to recruits and players at other schools and there has been cheating on exams and there have been hookers and there has been point shaving, all reprehensible. But nothing — I repeat, nothing — comes close to Penn State, to a pedophile doing what he did again and again, and the university's top people knowing about it and covering it up just to protect the holiest of holies, the football program. The cover-up is the living end. You just want to weep at the sheer moral vacancy of Penn State and what happened to those boys.

The Bleacher Report pointed out that Southern Methodist University lost its football program in 1987 and 1988 for recruiting violations. Recruiting violations? If Southern Methodist got the death penalty for mere recruiting violations, Penn State deserves the atomic bomb.

Oh, just give Penn State the death penalty and be done with it.

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