Penn State is obviously desperate to move past the horrific sex-abuse scandal that has created a PR firestorm for the institution and its legendary football program, but is the school’s PR decision to sever all ties with Joe Paterno and his iconic image bound to do more harm than good? The "Joe Pa" merchandise that has been a fixture for decades in the State College, Penn. area will only be available in Penn State stores for the next two months as the university announced recently that it had cut licensing ties with the legendary coach. For now, it’s just clothes and memorabilia. But if this trend continues, what’s next to go? The statue of the coach outside Beaver Stadium or the library wing on campus that bears his name? The Jerry Sandusky scandal has been a nightmare for Penn State, but with many questions still surrounding the case and Paterno not speaking publicly on the issue, is it right for the university to completely distance itself from a coach who has done so much good for it? If Penn State decides to do away with their association with the image of Paterno because of his possible link to the Sandusky case, then it would seem like the university would also have to sacrifice all the positive things the man did for so many years. Also, the university might be miscalculating the support Paterno still has among its fan base. In a poll released Friday, 43 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters in the the poll said they opposed the decision to fire Paterno. And of the voters polled, 44 percent still had a favorable opinion of Paterno. On a national level, support for Paterno is clearly much lower, but many Penn State fans and alumni don’t seem willing to abandon their backing for the record-setting coach quite yet, reports central Penn.’s Express-Times.
There are also numerous Facebook groups that show support of Paterno, including the page "I Support JoePa" that has more than 18,000 likes and a group that intends to vote out the Penn State Board of Trustees after their decision to oust the long-time coach. If Penn State continues to separate itself from the name and image of Paterno by removing his statue or altering the appearance of the library, it likely won’t be without strong opposition from many people in the Penn State community, the Express-Times reports.
Despite the recent events, Paterno and Penn State will be forever linked. Even if the university would like to change that fact given the current situation, it is not possible to erase the image of Paterno from the school. Instead of wasting its time of doing the impossible, Penn State should try to move its football program forward, but at the same time remember all the great things accomplished by its former coach, reports Express-Times writer Josh Folck.