McQueary won't be there; it's good, sad


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Mike McQueary won't be on the Penn State sideline Saturday when the No. 12 Nittany Lions play No. 19 Nebraska. He won't be in the coaches box high above the field. He won't be anywhere close to Beaver Stadium.

That is as it should be.

But it's also for a very sad, very wrong reason.

Penn State officials announced late Thursday night that McQueary won't be at the game because of "multiple threats" made against him.

Isn't it pretty pathetic that maybe the only person who at least tried to do something to stop the alleged terror of former longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is the target of some severely misguided, irrational people?

It's really pathetic.

McQueary is not the second-biggest creep behind Sandusky in the sordid Penn State child sexual abuse scandal. In order, former coach Joe Paterno, former president Graham Spanier, former senior vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley should be ahead of him on the villains list. Paterno comes before Spanier because he was the most powerful man on the Penn State campus until Sandusky was arrested Saturday on charges that he molested eight boys.

In 2002, according to the presentment of the grand jury that investigated Sandusky, McQueary, then 28 and a graduate assistant coach on Paterno's staff, witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy, believed to be 10, in the showers at the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus. McQueary quickly left the scene, telephoned his father and went to his father's home to discuss what should be done.

The next morning, McQueary went to Paterno's home to tell him what he saw in the shower.

Countless people have suggested McQueary should have done more to help the boy.

They say, at the very least, he should have pulled Sandusky off the boy and held him naked in the shower until police could arrive to take Sandusky into custody. Many others say McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback, should have beaten Sandusky, then 58, beyond recognition. They say he should be ashamed of himself for running away and calling daddy.

Of course, McQueary should have done more.

He must know that now. He is married with a young daughter. He must see that boy in the shower every time he looks at his child. The guilt he has lived with the past nine years must be overwhelming. The guilt he will live with the rest of his life, now that he knows of many more alleged victims of Sandusky, must be almost paralyzing.

But I can't sit here and write with 100 percent certainty that I would have done anything more than McQueary at that moment. None of us can say for sure how we would have reacted in that horrendous situation.

We weren't in McQueary's shoes. We weren't dealing with the shock of what he saw. We didn't grow up in State College with at least some of Sandusky's six adopted children. We didn't have to stand up to an absolute Penn State icon -- Sandusky -- who retired as a coach in 1999 but still was so highly regarded on campus in 2007 that he was asked to deliver the commencement address to the College of Health and Human Development. We didn't have to face reporting the rape to an even bigger sports icon -- Paterno -- with our job, career and future possibly on the line.

Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not making excuses for McQueary.

He was dead wrong. I'm just suggesting that a lot of other people might not have reacted any differently than he did under those extraordinary circumstances.

It's not always easy being a hero.

McQueary deserves much more blame -- as does his father -- for not doing anything after he reported the alleged shower incident to Paterno and then to Schultz and Curley. When he saw his superiors were doing virtually nothing about it -- perhaps out of fear for their reputations and Penn State's or perhaps out of simple naivety that the whole mess somehow would go away -- he owed it to the boy and his own conscience to pursue the matter with the police.

Who knows how many other victims he might have saved?

Paterno rightly was fired Wednesday night by the Penn State Board of Trustees, presumably for not doing more with what McQueary had told him than just passing it on to Schultz and Curley, although board members weren't happy that Paterno released a statement earlier in the day saying he would coach out the season and then retire.

Spanier rightly was pushed out by the board for not doing more or for not fully knowing the severity of the allegations against Sandusky. Paterno and Spanier are the ones who should be ashamed.

The trustees should be applauded for taking the first two steps of what will be a long healing process at Penn State.

But there's no way McQueary, now Penn State's receivers coach, recruiting coordinator and on-field point man for the offense, should have anything to do with the game Saturday.

It should be noted the trustees are not firing McQueary or pressuring him to step down.

They are merely keeping him away from the game Saturday.

It's unclear if McQueary is protected by Pennsylvania's "Whistleblowers Law." That says an employer can't "discharge, threaten or otherwise discriminate" against an employee who makes a good faith report of wrongdoing.

Regardless, McQueary should have resigned when Paterno was fired, if not earlier in the week. He can't continue to coach under these circumstances.

That's not fair to the Penn State players or to him. He has much more to worry about than Matt McGloin or Rob Bolden playing well at quarterback.

It's inconceivable that McQueary won't have to testify at Sandusky's trial should the case go that far.

His time as a Penn State coach should be finished, but his time dealing with vitally important Penn State matters could be far from over.


Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com . Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.


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