It did not take long for a headline-worthy quote to come out of SEC Media Days.
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Conference commissioner Mike Slive alluded to the ongoing Penn State scandal in his opening statement, not naming any names but certainly referencing integrity and powerful individuals.
“No one program, no one person, no matter how powerful, can be allowed to derail the soul of an institution,” Slive said.
The reference was recognized immediately. Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno was referenced in the now-famous Freeh Report — an eight-month investigation into the breakdown of institutional control in the Jerry Sandusky saga — as one of those men with far too much control, almost being seen as a football deity on campus.
It was no mistake that Slive fit this sentiment into his opening statement. Apparently that type of idolization will not fly in the Southeastern Conference under Slive’s watch.
But he was not alone.
Other notable SEC personalities did not approach the situation in such a black-and-white manner. Steve Spurrier, who has never been one to bite his tongue, talked on Paterno delicately, noting not only the tragic scenario but also the real human element.
“I don’t have any answers for this, that or the other. The only thing I would say about Coach Paterno, when he coached college football, he did everything right,” Spurrier said. “As a football coach, he was a guy, I mean, he did things right. His teams played fair, fundamentally sound. He was always revered for doing the right things.
“I don’t want to get into the other side of a terrible, terrible situation. But as a college football coach, I remember him that way also.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, however, thinks it is ”wrong” to place
sole blame for the Penn State tragedy on Paterno.
was quoted as saying on Tuesday ”you can’t take away the greatness of this man.
He was a great man, and you can’t, however you analyze this, all of a
sudden erase all that this guy’s done. You can’t do that. Nobody can do
Pinkel said Paterno was a friend who he got to know
professionally. He added that it was a ”tragic situation … involving
children” and that ”I’m sure maybe if (Paterno) could do it over again