Woody Hayes' coaching career ended ignominiously the second he slugged an opposing player during the 1978 Gator Bowl.

Despite producing 28 winning seasons and three national championship titles, the once-legendary head coach of Ohio State University was fired the following morning.

He never coached again.

In the wake of the sex abuse allegations at Penn State University, some local Penn State students are comparing Hayes' case to what could potentially lead to the exit of legendary head coach Joe Paterno.

Unlike Hayes, Paterno is known for following NCAA rules by the book when it comes to coaching his players.

Not enough: While Paterno didn't throw a punch, freshman Shane Shaffer said he didn't do enough to fight for the young boys who were allegedly victims of sexual assault by Paterno's right-hand man of more than two decades, Jerry Sandusky.

Sandusky, who says he is innocent, is charged with sexually abusing eight young boys from the late 1990s to 2009, in part by luring them in with his Penn State ties and The Second Mile, a charity he started for at-risk children.

When then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, now an assistant coach, saw a boy who appeared to be 10 years engaged in sexual activity with Sandusky, he contacted his father and then Paterno, according to the 23-page grand jury report.

Paterno passed along the information to the university's athletic director Tim Curley, according to the report. But he never contacted the police. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan on Monday said Paterno should have done more.

"I don't think Paterno's at fault," said Shaffer, a 2011 West York High School graduate.

But, he added, "He has so much power at the university that he could have done more."

Leadership role: Shaffer said he doesn't think Paterno should step down from his head coaching position, despite the actions he didn't take when sex allegations came to the surface nearly a decade ago.

That's because Shaffer insists Paterno is the man to get the Penn State community through this tough time.

"He has always been known for doing the right thing, and I am not sure why he didn't contact police, but I hope he had a good reason if there is such a thing. We love JoePa still and I think we always will," said Shaffer.

He said the overall mood expressed by students in Happy Valley is confusion, mostly because students and staff members are curious about what is going to happen to Paterno, he said.

"I know the entire student body from campus to campus loves to be a Nittany Lion. Sandusky can't take that away from us. We will rally together and still produce top students, athletes, and most importantly people," said Shaffer.

School spirit: Until now, Penn State's biggest football problem was which quarterback would start a game, said sophomore Maggie Golden, a 2010 graduate of Central York High School.

Golden, who said she's had her mind set on becoming a Nittany Lion since she was in the third grade, said she is disheartened by the allegations.

Nevertheless, the 19-year-old said students are trying to prove to the nation that the scandal should not reflect the Penn State community as a whole.

Students, faculty and staff members at the university are disgusted by the whole ordeal, but also offended, she said.

"Penn State stands for so much more than football. We are our academics, our student-run philanthropies, our clubs and our friends who make up a Penn State family and student body," she said. "I know we all feel sorrow for what occurred and our thoughts are with the victims and families of all parties involved."

Another York County native, junior Matt Weaver, said one word sums up the overall mood of Penn State community: Annoyed.

The 2009 graduate of William Penn High School said before the university's sex-abuse scandal started grabbing national headlines and televised news reports earlier this week, the football program was making positive headlines for its surprising, yet firm, lead in the Big Ten conference. 

The university's classroom atmosphere hasn't changed much, and neither has student life, said Weaver. There have been a lot of words exchanged between people about who's to blame, and what this ordeal means for the school and university president Graham Spanier, the team and Paterno, he said.

"There have been some intense debates on campus between supporters and accusers of Spanier, coach and the athletics department," he said.

Weaver said Sandusky deserves what he gets, if the allegations are true. He also said Curley and Schultz deserve to face legal consequences, if they in fact knew of these issues years ago and didn't speak up or take action.

As for anyone else, including Spanier and Paterno, Weaver said he doesn't think they deserve the ridicule they've been faced with since the scandal came to light.

"Several shots have been taken at Spanier, Paterno and other branches of administration, but there is absolutely no clues at the moment that could lead anyone to believe they knew of the things happening," he said.

On the other hand, freshman Nik Fritz of Dallastown said despite how much he likes Penn State football, anyone, including Paterno, who helped cover up sexual abuse should face legal consequences.

But that doesn't mean the scandal shouldn't affect anyone's opinion of the school as a whole, he said.

"I'm at (Penn State) to get a great education, and as long as that isn't affected, I don't have a ton of interest in the matter," said Fritz, an electrical engineering major.

"If I was a high school senior when this occurred, this ordeal wouldn't have affected my decision to go (to Penn State)," he said.

- Reach Lauren Whetzel at 505-5432 or lwhetzel@yorkdispatch.com.