The mindless minions who rely on the print edition of the Kansas City Star for news were treated to this headline yesterday:
"Penn State News Disgusts Pinkel"
Unfortunately, what those readers are unaware of is, the Star‘s story was little more than a mulligan for the Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel. That after Pinkel blew it badly last week on St. Louis radio, where he was not only not disgusted by the Penn State nightmare, he effectively came down on the side of its fired and disgraced football coach Joe Paterno.
Where was this reported? On former Riverfront Times alt weekly main man Ray Hartman‘s blog, that’s where.
Hartman’s headline: "Gary Pinkel Cuts A Little Slack For Joe Paterno"
No tap-dancing there.
"One of the most illuminating aspects of the Penn State University child-abuse scandal was what it revealed about big-time college football’s inbred coaching fraternity," Hartman begins.
Now Pinkel’s money quote: “Would I have done more? I’d like to think I would,” Pinkel said. “But I don’t know. It’s so easy to sit back and start throwing jabs at people and evaluating everybody else. I usually don’t do that.”
Cue Hartman’s beatdown:
"Give Pinkel credit for honesty. And, I suppose, for accessibility, because he easily could have no-commented the story involving Paterno, his friend and fellow coach," Hartman writes. "But really, you’d like to think that you would have done more than virtually nothing if a credible person alleged that one of your long-time assistant coaches was having sex in your locker room with a 10-year-old boy. You’re not sure?
You couldn’t say with certainty that you would have done the right thing—the only moral thing—and see to it that authorities were involved, that the alleged perpetrator was confronted, and that the boy and his family received protection and care? If this were to happen tomorrow in Mizzou’s locker room, those of us alums who support the athletic department—and, by the way, the rest of the world—would like to think there would be no uncertainty about what to do."
Having been summarily spanked by Hartman, Pinkel wasn’t about to pull up short of Monday’s PR schmooze presser.
The $64 million question: How does Pinkel really feel about the Penn State matter?
The way he expressed himself late last week with nobody breathing down his neck? Or the way he responded days later after being righteously scolded by Hartman?
My hunch is the former. And the reason that matters is that Mizzou faithful would probably like to think if Pinkel found himself in a similar position to Paterno, he’d do things differently.
But after hearing Pinkel’s comments, maybe not.
"It’s not ‘throwing a jab’ at Paterno to suggest his own inaction was reprehensible on moral grounds, even if he somehow met the letter of the law," Hartman continues. "It’s not a jab to reject out of hand the assertion that he was told ‘something sexual’ happened but didn’t bother to get any details before passing the matter on to superiors. And that he never followed up after that.
"If we’ve got the story straight, Paterno just returned to his X’s and O’s and never further concerned himself with the 10-year-old boy who had been sodomized in his locker room or, for that matter, with his longtime colleague Jerry Sandusky—the alleged perpetrator—who continued on, with Paterno’s full knowledge, working with young boys in an agency supposedly caring for foster children."
What in the world was Paterno thinking that he would turn a blind eye to something this egregious?
"Pinkel didn’t speculate about any of that," Hartman continues. "But he did manage to mention—no less than three times in a short interview—that Paterno was a ‘good man.’ He described Paterno as ‘one of my heroes in coaching,’ and Pinkel pointed out that ‘he did nothing illegal."
"What a great opportunity to praise Joe Paterno.
"At least Pinkel didn’t complain that ‘JoePa’ was the real victim here."
Not after Hartman had finished with him, anyway.