Penn State fans were glued to their newsfeeds as word of coaching legend Joseph Paterno's declining health made headlines. This past Saturday evening family and friends gathered around State College hospital in Pennsylvania to say their farewells. Early the next morning, the man known as "JoePa" took his final breath Just over two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, a family spokesperson confirmed to the Associated Press that the Penn State head coach died from "metastic small cell carcinoma of the lung". The family's official statement read "It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today. His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled." For almost five decades, the Brooklyn native was one of the most important figures in college football. Paterno currently holds the record for most victories by an NCAA Division I coach and also led five teams to undefeated status that won major bowl games. In 2007, her was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
However, the coach's storied career came to a disasterous end last year because of Paterno's failures in responding to allegations of child-sexual abuse leveled against long-time assitant coach Jerry Sandusky. The beloved coach was dismissed mid-season, prompting student protests and nationwide debate over his punishment. Now that Paterno is dead, will fans forgive and forget the fact that the man they loved so dearly remained quiet as one of his staff went unpunished for allegedly raping children who were in his care? Or will it become easier to take a critical look at the coach's actions without being conflicted by appreciation for his professional success?