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Tim Hyland

Paterno: 'I Never Had to Deal With Anything Like That.'

By January 15, 2012

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Joe Paterno has broken his silence.

The longtime Penn State coach had remained mostly mum since his dismissal in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, but late this week, Paterno finally opened up, granting a lengthy two-day interview to acclaimed Washington Post reporter Sally Jenkins.

Jenkins' story, which was published Saturday afternoon on the Post's website, has become a story in and of itself, creating even further debate about Paterno's role in a scandal that has shaken Penn State to the core.

Among the highlights from the piece:

♦ Paterno said he was confused as to how to proceed when assistant coach Mike McQeuary first came to him with allegations regarding Sandusky, and so ultimately decided to turn the matter over to his supervisors. Said Paterno: "It was a Saturday. Waited till Sunday because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. And then I called my superiors and I said: 'Hey, we got a problem, I think. Would you guys look into it?' Cause I didn't know, you know. We never had, until that point, 58 years I think, I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn't feel adequate."

♦ Paterno said he recalled McQueary being "very upset" with what he had seen, but he added that his assistant did not get into specifics. "You know, he didn't want to get specific," Paterno said. "And to be frank with you I don't know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man."

♦ Paterno said Sandusky's retirement from Penn State in 1999 had nothing to do with any alleged sexual assaults, but rather the fact that Paterno had told Sandusky that he would not be able to become the school's head coach so long as he was devoting so much time to his charity, The Second Mile. "He came to see me and we talked a little about his career," Paterno said. "I said, you know, Jerry, you want to be head coach, you can't do as much as you're doing with the other operation ... I said you can't do both, that's basically what I told him."

♦ Jenkins noted that Paterno, who is battling cancer, looked very weak during the interviews, and had to conduct the second interview from his bed. But Paterno said he was not concerned about what happens to him; he says he simply wants what's best for Penn State. Said Paterno: "What's happened to me has been great. I got five great kids. Seventeen great grandchildren. I've had a wonderful experience here at Penn State. I don't want to walk away from this thing bitter. I want to be helpful."

Photo: Joe Paterno says he didn't feel prepared to deal with the allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. (Getty Images)

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