PZ Myers wrote a blog about Paterno and his legacy. In this blog he simply asked the question, "How many football games do you have to win to make up for one broken child?" Yes, if you judge Paterno's legacy solely on his on field accomplishments and try to weigh those against the molestations of children after the reported Sandusky incident, then absolutely, the man's legacy is wanting. But let's not discount the off the field things. He gave many young men an opportunity to get an education that may not have gotten the chance otherwise. Were some rules bent for eligibility and grades on occasion? I'm sure they were. Show me any major college program where that does not happen. Let's not judge him against what all other coaches have done. So, in that respect, the harsh judgement is perhaps, not fair.
However, let's take a look at the Catholic priest scandals. There are quite a number of priests in positions of authority, while not having committed any of the crimes, knew about them and did not report them, or did not follow through on such reports. We judge those men harshly and demand that action be taken, not only the Catholic Church, but by authorities as well. Those men are tarnished, and their legacy's found wanting. Why should we give Joe Paterno a pass for doing the exact same thing?