IT Professional

Paterno – Focused to a Fault

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I wrote a post about this a little more than a year ago, “The Good, the Great and the Extreme“. I guess now, we can add Joe Paterno to the list of those who while striving for greatness tend to leave the rest of us behind.

Joe Paterno was fired as coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team because he had knowledge of a child molestation. He told his boss about the incident and left it for others to handle. He had a football to plan for, and besides the man who the accusations came against was an upstanding citizen. of course, the graduate assistant was “distraught” as he relayed to Mr. Paterno that he saw a man in the showers with what looked like a 10 year old boy. Who should the graduate assistant tell about the incident, BUT the iconic, legendary coach who has been coaching football for longer than most of us have been alive? He would know what to do…after all Penn State has never had a major NCAA violation.

As far as the issues and guilt about who should have done what, why etcetera, there is not much debate. The graduate assistant was right to tell Paterno, Paterno was right to tell his boss, but he should have ensured that the matter was properly handled. That is, if there was any truth to what the witness said or not. However, there is another point I want to bring out that is not so obvious.

When looking at what happened, I think it is clear that Mr. Paterno was focused on the reputation of the university, the football team and all the things that have to do with that. Joe Paterno has coached at Penn State – COACHED – for over 40 years. One job, and one of the best ever at what he does. Linebacker U. Ki-Jana Carter and Lavar Arrington. Blair Thomas and Kerry Collins and countless other great college players. Not to mention national championships.

Penn State football unlike Miami, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, Ohio State and practically every major university has never had a major rules violation. It can be argued that in Paterno’s time there, the school has been just as successful as any program in that time. It speaks to the man#s focus that he could get fine athletes AND manage to keep them out of major trouble and that this aspect never got away from him. How did he do it…?

Well, I think we have a peek inside the window now. The incident that happened in 2002 shows us that Paterno was intensely focused – to a fault – on the success and every aspect of the program. How could he miss the principles in this issue everyone asks…well if you have tunnel vision you cannot properly see the peripheral items in your line of sight. This was Paterno who managed every aspect of the program so that success was always in reach. Of course he neglected to see at least in one respect that outside of the campus football complex, the world was still going on.

Written by lionoah

November 10, 2011 at 10:41

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