After a very successful 46-year run as Penn State's head football coach, it is time for Joe Paterno to finally retire and take whatever dignity and grace he has left with him.
It might not be the way that Paterno wanted to walk away, but there is absolutely no way that he can continue as Penn State's football coach after allowing Jerry Sandusky to prey on young boys under his watch.
Sandusky, according to Grand Jury documents, has preyed on multiple young boys over the years, including on the Penn State campus. The former defensive coordinator was charged with 40 counts of child abuse in what amounts to one of the worst college football scandals of all time.
The documents suggest that Sandusky used his Second Mile charity to pick out young boys to sexually take advantage of. The charges say that he forced young boys to take showers with him, while he sexually groped the innocent and naïve children.
The worst incident -- the one set to bring down Penn State athletics as we currently know them -- involved Sandusky anally raping a 10-year old boy in the Penn State football showers.
A young graduate assistant -- reported to be current wide receivers coach Mike McQueary -- saw the disgusting act and reported the information to Paterno the next day. Paterno would pass on the information to athletic director Tim Curley, who never informed the authorities of the crime.
Paterno, in a statement released on Sunday, says that the assistant never went into explicit detail about what he saw, but admitted that he saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky.
He goes on to say that he had no idea that the information would be covered up and asked for everyone to trust the legal process.
Unfortunately, that isn't good enough in this situation -- an extremely serious matter that long ago required law enforcement involvement.
Sure, Sandusky wasn't an official employee at the time of the shower incident in 2002, but he still maintained a football office and frequently visited the State College campus. Simply passing along the information to higher-ups when it involved the safety of young children doesn't cut it.
Paterno can say that he didn't know it would be covered up, but any smart person could figure out pretty quickly that the authorities weren't brought in on the incident. A decent human being would have been in contact with Curley frequently about the alleged incident and if nothing was done, that person would then go to the authorities himself.
Instead, Paterno passed the buck on to Curley and just pretended he never heard the nasty allegations.
He allowed a man, who was caught molesting a child in a shower, to continue to be around children all of the time with his Second Mile charity. That might be the most disgusting act of all -- that Paterno indirectly allowed for more children to be sexually assaulted by not turning Sandusky into the police.
I understand that the two might have developed a good relationship and how hard it would be to turn in a friend, but there is no person in this world that I wouldn't turn into the police if that person was sexually assaulting children. Paterno, though, never even confronted the man that he worked alongside for all of those years at Penn State, according to his son, Scott.
From my imperfect recollection, once he referred it off, I do not believe he had a second conversation about it, Scott Paterno told The New York Times. The appropriate people were contacted by Joe. That was the chain of command. It was a retired employee and it falls under the university's auspices, not the football auspices.
Maybe Paterno technically did everything right, but when it comes to young children being abused the chain of command means picking up the telephone and immediately calling police.
The scandal has already forced Curley to be placed on administrative leave, but that's hopefully only the beginning. Next will likely be Penn State President Graham Spanier, who released a pitiful defense of Curley after Sandusky's charges went public.
But it shouldn't stop there.
Every single person that had knowledge of this incident and didn't go to the authorities should be terminated, immediately, including Spanier, Paterno, and even the young graduate assistant that continued working at Penn State for an additional nine years -- despite knowing that school didn't turn Sandusky into the police.
It should be noted that these charges haven't been proven against Sandusky, but Paterno's willingness to act as a witness for the prosecution should show what he believes happened.
And this fire just happens to be the worst scandal to ever hit college football. It's worse than every single scandal that media loves to make such a big deal about, including the recent Miami football scandal.
It's college football's version of the Catholic Church scandals -- in the breadth of both the crimes and the subsequent cover-up.
It might take years for Penn State to regain its stellar reputation, and it won't happen without a thorough cleansing throughout the university's organization of those involved, including Paterno. The coach may have led the Nittany Lions to multiple national championships, and had many seasons of on-field success, but his win-loss record shouldn't save his career.
Paterno doesn't deserve a chance to coach another year at Penn State -- he doesn't deserve a chance to go out on his own terms. It might be a sad day in Happy Valley when Paterno finally leaves, but the real sadness should be redirected to all of the children that might have been molested because Paterno didn't act upon the morals and high values he teaches to all of his players.
Paterno failed to live up to his own high standards, and for that his fate has been sealed.