Gary Pinkel comes to Paterno’s defense

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Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno has been criticized heavily — and justifiably — since the release of the Freeh report last Thursday.

But you can almost always count on a coach to come to the defense of another.

When asked to comment on the Penn State situation during SEC media days, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel came about as close as anyone to defending Paterno since Mike Krzyzewski

“You can’t take away the greatness of this man,” Pinkel said about Paterno. “He was a great man. And however you analyze this, you can’t erase all that this guy has done. You can’t do that. Nobody can do that.”

People are trying. There continues to be mounting pressure to remove a majority, if not all, evidence of Paterno and his image from the university’s campus. The still-standing statue of Paterno has come under the most heat, sparking a fly-over protest as recently as Tuesday. Penn State said it plans to make a decision on whether to keep the statue or not within the next week or so.

A student group running Paternoville outside Beaver Statdium has already changed its name to Nittanyville, and two other connections to Paterno outside PSU have been softened at Brown University and Nike.

All as a result of the Freeh report. As the face of an institution, Paterno’s received most of blame for the Sandusky scandal even though the Freeh investigation blasted high-ranking university officials as well.

And, adding to Paterno’s hindsight comments last fall, Pinkel thinks the scrutiny placed on Paterno isn’t fair.

“I’m sure he would maybe, if he did it over again, he’d follow up a few things,” Pinkel said. “But don’t take away all this guy did, and sit around blaming him for all this.”

Direct words, but remember, coaches generally stick up for coaches — especially when the one they’re defending isn’t around to do it themselves.

(Quotes courtesy of Kansas City Star)