Just some quick thoughts, summary of it all, etc. etc.
I've been a defender of Paterno only because I just want it to be the case that he didn't know. It's impossible to think that he didn't considering how many people did know, and him being the head coach and all, but I guess there's a chance. If he didn't know, well, he just didn't want to know. And ignorance is surely not bliss.
Everything else has pretty much been said, but there are two things I take issue with.
The first is the NCAA, and the sanctions against Penn State. As it now stands there won't be any, and quite frankly, if the entire story is focused only on Sandusky, etc, then there shouldn't be any. The NCAA isn't the arbiter of morality, and if this case has nothing to do directly with Penn State athletics, they shouldn't be levying any punishment. I don't even think they can, knowing what we know.
Penn State has remained free of any sanctions pretty much for the entirety of Joe Paterno's tenure, and they've had some rotten eggs come through that program. I can think of a few off the top of my head, but no reason to drag them into this. If Paterno, and his staff, were able to keep this story under wraps, I can't imagine some of the other things they were able to hold down. Over the past few seasons alone Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Oregon, Tennessee, USC, Georgia, Alabama, LSU, all of these schools and so many more, have had run-ins with the NCAA. But not Penn State.
This may blow their cover, and give the NCAA a reason to START looking.
Schools are supposed to self report when they learn of violations, and I'm guessing Penn State didn't do much of that.
You feel me?
The second thing which sticks out to me, is the seemingly unreported/unmentioned (shocking, considering everything else has been) fact that Joe Paterno and Mike Mcqueary did the WRONG thing. And I don't mean in the sense that they didn't call the police, which they should have by law, because I'm not sure how many people actually are aware it's a legal obligation to so. Then there's the whole "moral" question of should Paterno/Mcqueary have called the police. In Paterno's case we can't say for SURE what he knew. If he knew, then yes, goes without saying. But if it was kept from him, and then he believed higher-ups looked into it, then there's a LITTLE gray area.
All this aside though, the reason he did the wrong thing is because contacting superiors/higher-ups is only the "right thing" to do IF it related to your football program. For example, Ohio State's former Coach Jim Tressel (man, that hurts) should have told his Athletic Director, and other higher-ups, about what he knew regarding his football program. However, this case has nothing to do with football, so by contacting his superiors Joe Paterno didn't really do anything at all. That's not the "right thing, legally" at all. That's just telling other people who also worry about the future of the program, who in turn protected the program, and didn't advance the legal case. It's no different if he had told his butcher, except his butcher probably calls the police.
Paterno basically attempted to move the decision off his own plate, for whatever reason. But lets not pretend he did any "right thing" even in a legal sense because clearly he legally did not. As far as the NCAA goes, it's a moot point because they have no jurisdiction here at all!
In essence, Paterno did nothing at all.
If Mike Mcqueary saw Jerry Sandusky murdering someone, and then told Paterno, what would they have done? Told the Athletic Director?
Of course not. If they did would reporters be saying "well, they did the right thing as far as the NCAA would be concerned."
That's how this should be judged. As a crime equal to murder, and what they did in response to it.