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Spurrier, Finebaum Call for Return of Paterno Statue

by on April 22, 2016 9:17 AM

Steve Spurrier was a guest on ESPN's The Paul Finebaum Show Wednesday, and during the course of the Head Ball Coach's two-hour appearance he expressed support for Joe Paterno and said the late Penn State coach's statue should be returned to campus.

“He was treated as unfairly as any coach ever,” said Spurrier, who retired as South Carolina's coach during the 2015 season. “He had nothing to do with that scandal. Nothing at all. What they did to him was completely wrong.”

A caller asked about Spurrier's relationship with Paterno, and Spurrier said they got to know each other when his Florida team played against Paterno's Nittany Lions in the Citrus Bowl following the 1997 season. They became "good friends" on Nike-sponsored trips.

The Paterno statue was removed from outside Beaver Stadium following the release of the university-commissioned investigative report into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal led. That report, led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, has been under debate since its release in July 2012, with many criticizing the accuracy of its conclusions, which laid blame on Paterno and Penn State administrators. It's also been at the center of multiple lawsuits -- a recent filing by Freeh in former president Graham Spanier's lawsuit against him said the charges of defamation should be thrown out because the statements Freeh made were "opinion."

Spurrier said Paterno deserves the honor of having the statue returned.

"I hope they restore it," Spurrier said. "I've heard they're having talk about putting the statue back and they should do that. They really should."

Finebaum later agreed with Spurrier, referring to Paterno as "the late and great Penn State coach."

"The whole controversy over Sandusky has been hashed out time and time again, and I understand the unbelievable pain that was suffered in that community and by many, many people who had no business ever suffering," Finebaum said. "Could Paterno have done more? I'll leave it to others. I really don't know the answer.

"What I do know is some of the behavior that has occurred around [Paterno's] tenure and since then has just been embarrassing."

Finebaum said the sanctions issued against Penn State, many of which have since been eliminated or ended early, were "all about hype, all about [NCAA President] Mark Emmert looking like he was in charge when he had no business doing any of the above."

The host, however, reserved his harshest criticism for the university, calling the removal of the statue "unconscionable." 

"That needs to go back up, and Penn State needs to make peace with the past," Finebaum said. "It's about time Penn State stood up and honored Joe Paterno in a proper and appropriate way by putting that statue back up."

The original sculptors of the Paterno statue, which was installed outside Beaver Stadium when Paterno surpassed Paul "Bear" Bryant to become the all-time FBS wins leader, are creating replicas of the statue

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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