Not a PSU scandal? That's Nittany lying

| Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

It's not a Penn State scandal. Honest.

So insisted its president, Rodney Erickson, in a meeting Thursday with disgruntled, disgusted alumni in a hotel near Philadelphia. He made the claim even though the meeting's only purpose was to aid the university's attempts to slowly dig itself out of the hole of deepest disgrace.

"It grieves me very much when I hear people say, 'The Penn State scandal,' " Erickson told gathered alums. "This is not (about) Penn State. This is the Sandusky scandal."

It's not about Penn State, not at all. How could anyone think that?

It's about PENN STATE former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky being accused of being a serial child molester. Some of his alleged assaults occurred on the PENN STATE campus and on PENN STATE bowl game trips.

It's about suspended PENN STATE Athletic Director Tim Curley and former PENN STATE Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz facing perjury charges for allegedly lying to the grand jury that investigated Sandusky. The pair also are charged with failing to report abuse.

It's about legendary PENN STATE football coach Joe Paterno and former PENN STATE university President Graham Spanier being ousted during the national uproar that resulted when Sandusky was charged.

This isn't about Penn State• To make such a suggestion isn't just uttering a Happy Valley half-truth. This is about descending into deception, to engage in full-fledged Nittany lying.

Given that the university's imprint is indelibly etched into this scandal, Erickson's attempt to minimize its involvement and recast recent history is ludicrous.

To illustrate just how ludicrous, let's take this denial of involvement, this deflection of responsibility, and apply it to more distant historical events.

Let's speculate on what Erickson's take might be on:

• The Great Chicago Fire

"It perturbs me profoundly that everyone blames Mrs. O'Leary's cow for kicking over the lantern that supposedly started the blaze that torched the entire city. No one ever blames the lantern for being so close to the bovine."

• Watergate

"It pains me profusely that no one remembers that G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt masterminded the clumsy hotel break-in that ultimately brought down a president. It wasn't about Nixon at all."

• The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

"It saddens me substantially to think that BP shouldered total responsibility for the largest accidental marine oil spill in the petroleum industry's history when it had a silent partner. This environmental catastrophe could not have happened without the Gulf of Mexico tacitly agreeing to absorb 4.9 million barrels of crude oil."

• Waterloo

"It annoys me abundantly that Napoleon's reputation was tarnished by one crushing defeat in battle. It's a shame that all the good things he accomplished as emperor often are overlooked just because the Imperial French Army had an off day."

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