The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 8, 2012

There is still a place called Happy Valley

Daily Item

---- — Jerry Sandusky will learn today how severe his earthly penalty will be for the hideous crimes he committed while using the cache and, alleged shield, of Penn State football.

The victims will testify. Sandusky will speak. Then a judge will hand down a sentence that very well could ensure that Sandusky spends the rest of his days in prison. Nothing less would even approach the cause of justice.

Additional prosecutions will follow. Former athletic director Tim Curley and former executive vice president Gary Schultz will stand trial early in 2013. Civil lawsuits have already been filed by a number of victims, alleging the university shares liability because of the coverup that allowed Sandusky to continue to prey on disadvantaged young men.

Those are all painful, necessary steps in the judicial and healing processes.

Another important sign of healing has already become evident.

On Saturday, the Nittany Lions, led by a former walk-on at quarterback and a first-year coach won their fourth consecutive game. Penn State is 2-0 in Big Ten play and in first place in the Leaders Division.

The success comes in spite of NCAA sanctions that included the loss of scholarships and the ability of players to transfer away from Penn State without penalty.

The team is barred from competing in the new Big Ten championship.

Experts suggest that the present may be the best time to judge Coach Bill O'Brien because the full impact of the NCAA sanctions will become worse as the effect of the lost scholarships weigh down the program.

The season is still young, but the team's success belies the resistance to change that was so steeply ingrained in Penn State's institutional culture.

Penn State football is more than a cult of personality.

The fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse coverup forced change on Penn State. The Penn State football players have adapted to the change.

Fans were adamant that they would continue to support the team and they have more than adequately demonstrated their loyalty and fervor.

The pain and shame of the sex abuse coverup scandal will linger for a long time. But all is certainly not lost in the place called Happy Valley and may emerge stronger than ever.