… which people will be rereading when Penn State’s latest Dear Leader, James Franklin, implodes, taking already-imploded Penn State with him.

Already trailing moronic sexism and the Vanderbilt scandal, James Franklin

feels very much like a modern football coach. He is a walking TED talk. His is the language of a pitchman rather than a professor. He readily admits to being a perfectionist, and he says things like this about coaches, according to Blue-White Illustrated’s Nate Bauer: “They’re control freaks, they’re maniacs, and I’m one of them.”

And that’s the issue: I have no idea if, given the contours of this system, it is possible to be all these things and still maintain one’s ethical framework. I have no idea if a college football coach can be both a control freak and a model citizen, and I don’t think anyone else knows, either. This is, after all, the subtext of the debate Penn State people been waging amongst themselves for the past three years: Was the Paterno mythos inherently flawed? (Hell, you might say that this is the central question inherent to the existence of college football itself.) And this is the same question that lingers now, as the James Franklin era takes hold.

Is the Kim Jong-un mythos inherently flawed? Not if you revel in total control by maniacs. Weinreb cites a recent interview with a Franklin fanatic:

A few weeks ago, Penn State played its spring football game, and Harrisburg Patriot-News columnist David Jones conducted some interviews with fans, and during one of them, he expressed to a young man his thoughts that Penn State would have been better off hiring someone else. The young man was incredulous; the young man said, Have you seen the way this guy recruits? And Jones said yes, and Jones said he worried that Franklin, for all his seeming good will, might cause Penn State trouble at some point down the line. And the response he got weighed heavily on me for days after I read it.

“Yeah, I know,” the young man said. “But I don’t care.”

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One Response to “Thoughtful and well-written piece by Michael Weinreb…”

  1. blancacasa Says:

    The gaping hole in both this piece and the vast majority of the writing about Paterno is the two different sides of control freak.

    Paterno was well-known as a control freak about his players’ behavior. His long experience prior to the gigantic NCAA rules and his football control freak behavior made his question the effectiveness of handing disciplinary control to the NCAA or Student Life, hence his battles with Triponey. He believed he knew best how to handle poor conduct, ignoring the changing world of academics and athletics and his own conflict of interest.

    Yet, he was also well-known to insist that his players take academics seriously. While his control freak side might oversee that they attend class, he did not, by all accounts, interfere in academics. That was up to the professors, and he expected players to pay heed. After winning his first championship, Paterno spoke to faculty and pushed them to make the academic side of Penn State of national caliber, too. You’ll find few connected to Penn State–faculty, alumni, staff or administrators-who do not point to his talk and subsequent efforts in improving the libraries, funding the liberal arts, etc. as not having had a significant positive impact on education at Penn State.

    I’ve yet to see anyone explore these different aspects. Everyone seems to prefer the simple and simplistic story, rather than the messy, complex, and just maybe, more complete one.

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