Joseph Vincent Paterno has been dead for just more than six weeks.
The Penn State Board of Trustees, however, seems determined to keep the legendary football coach from resting in peace.
That's the only conclusion that can be drawn after Monday's "statement" from the board on why it fired the Happy Valley icon on Nov. 9.
By now, you've almost certainly read or heard the trustees' latest salvo. They cited Paterno for a "failure of leadership" for his actions following a reported sexual assault on a young boy by ex-PSU assistant Jerry Sandusky.
The board said Paterno did the legal minimum by telling his superiors about the alleged assault, but that he had a moral obligation to do more to follow up on the report.
In addition, the board said it was concerned that statements from Paterno had challenged the board's authority and it was worried that Paterno would not be able to properly represent the school if allowed to finish the 2011 season.
There was nothing new in the trustees' statement. Paterno, in a statement of his own shortly after the scandal broke, admitted that he wished he'd done more.
So that begs a question: Why did the trustees feel the need to come out with its latest statement more than four months after Paterno's firing and more than six weeks after his death?
Well, the trustees said they needed to "state clearly" the reasons for Paterno's dismissal. One trustee said "many people have indicated that they did not understand" the reasons the board decided to fire the head coach.
Well, to be frank, that simply doesn't pass the smell test.
The board had already conducted a series of media interviews in January about its decision to fire Paterno. The entire Sandusky scandal had received blanket coverage on media outlets throughout the state and nation for the last four months. There was no pressing need to come out with another statement now.
It's much more likely that the statement was spurred by the upcoming Board of Trustees election this spring. An unprecedented 86 candidates are on the ballot for three open, alumni-elected seats. Not surprisingly, many of the candidates for the 32-member board have said they are running out of unhappiness over the board's actions in November -- especially the firing of Paterno.
The statement was also a blatant public-relations move. Paterno's lawyer, Wick Sollers, hit the nail on the head when he said the statement was an attempt "to deflect criticism of their leadership by trying to focus the blame on Joe Paterno."
As a PR attempt, the statement will likely turn out to be a serious error for the trustees. It will only serve to infuriate the Paterno defenders and intensify the criticism that has already been hurled their way.
The trustees also didn't do themselves any favors by apologizing for -- but also rationalizing -- their decision to fire Paterno by a late-night phone call. The trustees said they saw no better alternative because Paterno's house was surrounded by media and his supporters.
"We did not believe there was a dignified, private and secure way to send board representatives to meet with him there," the statement said.
It's true, it would have been difficult to get a board member safely through the crowd to deliver the news that night. But couldn't the trustees have waited until early the next morning, when the crowd had dwindled and emotions had cooled, to deliver the bad news? Would a few hours really have made that much difference?
After six-plus decades at PSU, Paterno deserved better than a phone call. It's not surprising that he hung up on the board after hearing he'd been fired. The trustees said that prevented them from apologizing to Paterno for firing him by phone.
Well, if they were already prepared to apologize for firing Paterno by phone, that should have been an obvious indicator to the trustees that they were making a colossal mistake in judgment.
Of course, that's just one in a growing number of mistakes the trustees have made over the past four months.
The latest misstep was Monday's statement. There was no need for it. It will only serve to enflame emotions that had finally started to abate.
A new head coach had been hired, and after some initial misgivings, most the of Nittany Nation seemed to be warming to Bill O'Brien. He was saying and doing all the right things. His recent success on the recruiting trail had finally returned some of the focus toward the PSU football program and away from the Sandusky scandal.
Now, however, everyone is again talking about the Paterno firing and whether or not it was justified. The Sandusky scandal is back on the front pages and on ESPN SportsCenter.
All because the Penn State Board of Trustees felt the need to make a "statement."
Well, they did make a "statement," but not the one they intended.
They trustees stated pretty clearly that they don't know when to keep quiet.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dis patch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 854-1575, ext. 455.