The "Grand Experiment", in all it's lofty ambitions, failed. It appears obvious to most outside observers that a lifetime of work to show that football and academic effort was undone by the inaction of Joe Paterno due to either loyalty to a friend or the desire to protect what he built. Either way, it's been a black eye to the game, the conference, a great institution, and to all of us who have modeled themselves after him. I'll openly admit that in my coaching career, I've tried to be more like Joe Paterno than anyone else. From hammering on guys the importance of their education to teaching them to do the right thing in every situation, the goal has always been to imitate Paterno's vision of how football can be the best teaching tool available to young men. So now what do we do?
So how do we continue the Grand Experiment? I honestly don't know. The goals will remain the same, of course, but the approach has to change. I don't feel that I can ever again mention the best supporting argument I felt was available: "Joe Paterno does things the right way, and look at him." and "Penn State does it the right way, and look at them." I don't think anyone would disagree that the ultimate goal of molding good people out of football should change. Sadly, I think the only thing that can be done with the legacy of Joe Paterno is to point out that saying that you do the right thing isn't ever good enough. Every single time you're presented with a choice you need to make the right one, because you never know who's watching or how it may impact you later. Hopefully the failure of a man doesn't change the message he tried to deliver, because it was a great one.
(Sorry about the rambling, venting post. With football season rapidly approaching, this has been weighing on me.)