Mizzou Coach Pinkel's Defense of Joe Paterno: Sincere or Stupid?

Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel defended Joe Paterno and called him a great man during his SEC media day availability. What do you think of his remarks?

Remarks that University of Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel made defending the now disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno have at least one Missouri lawmaker at arms.

Pinkel, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, called Paterno a "great man." That comment came just days after an investigative report concluded that top Penn State officials, including Paterno, had for more than a decade known of child sexual abuse allegations made against Jerry Sandusky and said nothing.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Pinkel called Paterno a great friend and said the "greatness of this man" should not be erased. 

From the report

“You know, it's such a tragedy,” he began. “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. You can't do that. Nobody can do that.

“I think when you come out of such a tragic situation .. involving children, and the magnitude of this in our country from a media standpoint, I anticipated really what happened, to be honest with you, I anticipated that (the media) would do this.

“Now (the media isn't) going to just sit back there and say, `Well, just things happen.' You're not going to do that. They're going to be firing, and, people, they're going to get people who are going to make statements and they're going to point fingers."

On Thursday, Missouri lawmaker and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Sara Lampe released a statement condemning Pinkel, saying Paterno may have been a great coach, but failed at being a man.

From the statement

"University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel on Tuesday called the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno a 'great football coach' and a 'great man.' Paterno may have been a great coach, but as a man he failed at what mattered - protecting children from a sexual predator.

"As the exhaustive investigation into the Penn State scandal by former FBI Director Louis Freeh proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to all but the most sycophantic of Paterno worshipers, Coach Paterno protected and covered up for a serial child rapist and in doing so enabled him to keep raping children for another decade. A great man never would have done such a foul thing. That a great football coach did should be disturbing to everyone.

"Coach Pinkel's defense of the indefensible indicates that he holds the same attitude that allowed the reprehensible situation at Penn State to occur; the attitude that building a successful football program is more important than everything else, including protecting innocent children from rapists."


What do you think? Were Pinkel's remarks just ill-timed given the circumstances or is Joe Paterno's alleged ignorance indefensible? 

What about Lampe's remarks? Just a campaign tactic to get her name in the news cycle or a legitimate stance on the issue?

David Weaver July 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Sarah Lampe didn't even read Pinkel's comments. Pinkel expressed what a lot of people have, including Bob Costas. Paterno did many great things, but this tragic situation may overwhelm them. Life and situations are complex, and some people had actual relationships with Paterno. They bear a burden of seeing both sides of their friend. Which the pandering witch hunt does not. The mob mentality to crucify everyone in this tragic situation has lost control.
Eileen Tyrrell July 20, 2012 at 02:09 PM
David: Well said. I could not have said it better.
Gary J. July 20, 2012 at 02:31 PM
David made a good point, but so does Ms. Lampe. Coach Pinkel would have been better off to leave out his comments on Paterno.
don steppe July 20, 2012 at 03:02 PM
While I commend the university for ordering an investigation, I take issue with the fact that it is being called a "thorough" investigation." NONE of the key figures was interrogated: These include: Harmon, retired chief of police, who reported back to the unnveristy that the allegations were unfounded; Then atty. general Corbett (now governor) who as AG had a witness and chose not to prosecute the case; McQueary, who reported "horsing around" to Paterno, Curley(AD) and Schultz (business & security), who were advised because of impending legal cases not to participate by their attorneys; pending trials; Spanier (president) declined; Child Protective Services which found no crime; the unnamed Trustee who got wind of the allegations (why the rest of them did not read the expose in the Harrisburg newspaper puzzles me) early, neither demanded more information nor followed up with the rest of the Board of Trustees; and of course Paterno, himself. I am hoping to hear from some of these people in the future when they are called to testify under oath at impending trials.
Tim Arnold July 20, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Pinkel needs to realize that this is a no-win situation. The smart move would be to not talk about Paterno - just say it is an unfortunate situation that has nothing to do with Mizzou.
Tim Teicher July 20, 2012 at 03:54 PM
What Ms. Lampe... and all others who crucify Paterno fail to understand... Is that 'Jopa' in his heart of hearts NEVER believed the 2 accusers! (and remember there were only 2 until the story broke). When your best friend for 25 years is accused of something horrific... a good friend, a real friend - is going to doubt the accusers and remain loyal until the evidence is overwhelming. When you don't know someone you don't need a lot of evidence - but when you are a good loyal friend of someone who is accused of something a 'Good Man' will hang in there with his buddy - for longer than he should... Not because he wants to cover it up... but because he could not bring himself to believe it!!!! Joe was a great man. Loyal to a FAULT.
KK July 20, 2012 at 04:23 PM
He should have commented about compassion for the victims and not for the man that purposely or not has some responsibility here. If Sandusky was his friend Joe was not a very good judge of character.
Gabe DeArmond July 20, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Kevin Slaten took care of Lampe. Absolute crushed her as she attempted to grandstand for votes by slandering Paterno and Pinkel. DISGRACEFUL behavior on her part. Hopefully she gets CRUSHED in the upcoming primary.
Jim Wells July 20, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Based on these comments, Pinkel is a moron
R Gastorf July 20, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I am a Missouri alumni and I was proud of Coach pinkel to come out last year with a press release apologizing for his DWI because it went against what he tried to teach the players. He was man enough to stand up and admit he was wrong and I was proud that he did that. Today, however, I am very ashamed of him. In know way, shape or form can I defend a man, especially a man with so much power as Joe Paterno, to allow Sandusky to continue to be around young men once he knew the possiblity existed that he was molesting them. In being a football coach/teacher/role model and being so powerful, he had an even greater responsibility to protect the young men under his care. never once did it come out that he was concerned with their well being or the damage that could be done to them forever. Joe paterno was a great football coach if you base it on winning. But I cannot say he was a great man. Great men do not allow such things to happen and try to cover it up. If he was not sure it was true, he still had the responsibility to make sure if it was a possibility that Sandusky either stayed away from activities involving children or make darn sure he got to the bottom of it before allowing him to do so. Football has gotten to be the end all of college and it is truly a shame. I am ashamed because I thought Coach Pinkel was different. I cannot see defending a man that allowed such a thing to go on.
Gregg Palermo July 20, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Just for clarification, Patch can confirm the comment from "Gabe DeArmond" did not come from the editor of PowerMizzou.com with the same name.
Tom Maher July 20, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Hey - football reigns and allows all kinds of "cut him a little slack." I wonder the opinions of those Pinkel/Paterno apologists had one of their kids been one who was victimized by Sandusky and tut-tutted by Paterno? I wonder their reaction when they get a mental picture of one of their kids being invaded by a monster? Would they still be willing to "cut Joe a little slack?" Sure...
David Weaver July 21, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Tom, that mixes the issues. I would not cut Joe Paterno any slack. But then, I did not know him. I'm not wrestling with having known one person, and now being presented another side I did not know. I too wish Pinkel had said nothing, just so people would have nothing to talk about on this. But what he said acknowledged the tragedy of the situation. Yet you seem to be dragging Pinkel into somehow condoning what Paterno did. Or Sandusky. He did nothing of the sort.
Jjones July 21, 2012 at 03:15 AM
You need to read Louis Freeh's report about the complicity of Paterno and many others in the U. Penn system in order to fully dismiss your idea that a witch hunt occurred or that somehow we have succumbed to a mob mentality. Children were molested. Adults knew about it. They chose not to risk damage to a sports team and covered it up. There is no nuance here.
mormit July 21, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Pinkel is a knucklehead. Whining about the media only makes him sound more pathetic. Yes, blame the media because your buddy didn't do the right thing. How many accusers does somebody need before you have to say "Talk to the cops and clear this up"? Paterno even fought school administrators when his team members broke school rules. So much for a great coach/teacher. I give Sara Lampe more man cred than Pinkel and Paterno put together. Strike that thought, such a combination is just a effervescent mix of excuses, whining, and neglecting to do right.
Gene Vogt July 22, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Pinkkel IS a good freind, This is what freindss do.
Rahib August 02, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Benedict Arnold was a great general before his treason, but he is remembered only as a traitor. Once one does something as bad a Paterno, the other memories naturally fade. If turning a blind eye to child molestation is not enough to lose a friendship, I wonder what would.
James bommarito November 05, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Coach, i went to rice u on a football scholarship. I was the the number one recruit at stanford that year. Brad muster took my spot. Long story... parents and California..... u r a helluva coach. Like ur style. Ty willingham was my position coach at rice then. Good man. Coach i am well connected in stl. If u need some help recruiting.... I'm not a Mizzou grad. But i have sta te pride. I obviously know talent... that was the best football conference then. The old SWC. James bommarito 3144227727


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