JoePa had to know this. It would have been understandable if he just wanted to crawl into a dark corner and hide from the prying eyes of the media. No one likes getting fired, but to have it happen after being somewhere for 40+ years along with the knowledge that he could have/should have stopped a pedophile--the strain would break a lot of people.
Yet in spite of how his career ended and in spite of his ongoing battler with cancer the Coach had something on his mind that he had to talk to the new guy about.
He had to make sure that Bill O'Brien do one thing with the program, and it is something that O'Brien has shared:
“I know obviously that was a hugely difficult time for him. But he picked up the phone, and we talked. And he said, 'Can you just promise me that you'll continue the tradition of tough Penn State football with fantastic academics — guys that graduate, guys that go to class?' I promised him I would do that and I think we're trying to do that on a daily basis. We've got that type of team.”With his career over and his name disgraced JoePa still had to make sure that the program moved on, and continued to work hard to build the leaders of tomorrow and not just good football players.
Hey--I'll be the first to say that it doesn't make up for anything, but I will say that while he--like the rest of us--was fallible during his life. In the end though his heart was in the right place.
Incidentally, 18 players recently got their degrees; seven of them still have eligibility. Of the 31 players with senior eligibility last season, all of have earned a degree.