Vaughn: Troubling comments from Gary Pinkel on Paterno -

Vaughn: Troubling comments from Gary Pinkel on Paterno

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By Brendan Marks By Brendan Marks

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Gary Pinkel is entering the biggest year of his coaching career. His Missouri Tigers are about to begin play in the SEC, college football’s most competitive conference.

Before his comments on Joe Paterno at the SEC meeting day, the focus surrounding Mizzou football was on whether Pinkel’s Tigers could compete in the new conference. Now the focus is on the comments Pinkel made defending his former friend and colleague Joe Paterno.

At the SEC media day in Birmingham, Alabama, Pinkel was asked about his reaction to the Penn State scandal.

Pinkel said “Joe Paterno was a friend I got to know professionally. You can’t take away the greatness of this man. He was a great man, and you can’t, however you analyze this, all of a sudden erase all that this guy’s done. Later he added, “I’m sure maybe if he could do it over again he would have followed up a few things. But don’t take away all this guy did. And to sit here and blame him for all this I think is wrong. The easiest thing to do is point fingers and say, ‘You should have done this, you should have done that’. “

Wow. I have to wonder if he had thought out that response in advance, or if it was a spur of the moment reflex to defend an old friend. The coaching fraternity is a tight knit group. It’s not uncommon for coaches to publicly defend each other, or to judge a man’s greatness based on a won/loss record.

Do you think Pinkel's comments on Paterno's legacy are reasonable? Share your thoughts.

I think Pinkel has greatly underestimated the public’s disgust over the entire Penn State affair. I would agree that Paterno was a great coach, but I can no longer accept the notion that he was a great man. Far from it, based on what we now know about the sexual abuse of young boys at Penn State  under his watch, and the cover-up that Paterno had to know about.

Pinkel says it’s easy to point fingers and say “you should have done this, or you should have done that.”  Well, in this case I think it should have been very easy for someone at Penn State to stand up and put an end to Jerry Sandusky’s  abuse. That should have been an extremely easy call to make. As long as Joe Paterno was running the program part of the blame falls squarely on his shoulders. His won/loss record will never absolve him of the responsibility he had to make every attempt to protect the young victims of one of his assistant coaches.

Pinkel’s comments have created a major buzz on internet message boards and talk radio shows around Missouri. From what I’ve heard and read, the majority of people are stunned that Pinkel came to the defense of Paterno.

Whether Pinkel will face repercussions over his comments remains to be seen, but clearly his remarks have damaged his reputation among some Missouri football fans.


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