For the past half century, Penn State football has reigned supreme — basking in the glories of a storied tradition and multilateral popularity. That all changed last week when former coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 counts related to allegations of sexual abuse of young boys. Sandusky and Penn State football now find themselves in an unfamiliar role — an underdog in a case where its prospects look dim.

These allegations come in a year in which the Nittany Lions have procured an 8-1 record and are vying for a BCS bowl bid.

Today, however, football is an afterthought. Players and coaches alike are burdened with a new charge — preserving whatever’s left of the school’s prestige.

As once avid fans of the team repledge their allegiances, parents at home find themselves holding on to their children a bit more tightly. Sandusky, one of the school’s most respected coaches and an avid philanthropist in the community, is alleged to have sexually abused more than eight boys in a 15-year span. What make the matter worse is the fact that Penn State officials have known of these transgressions for the past decade.

Subsequently, questions regarding how to keep young athletes safe have arisen. “How am I supposed to trust my son’s coaches now?” said one mother.

Indeed her sentiments are echoed by thousands of other troubled parents.

The Informant lists nine things that can stop sex offenders from committing new crimes — among them are the implementation of a containment model, a change in how the department assesses who’s at highest risk of re-offending, having different levels of supervision for different people, the abolishment of “passive GPS monitoring,” building a monitoring center, switching experienced parole officers to sex offender units, reducing case loads, increasing oversight and getting rid of Jessica’s Law housing restrictions.

These provisions are designed to prevent predators from striking again.

As for Sandusky, the charges alleged against him represent an epic fall from grace, one which threatens the very legacy of one of college football’s most renowned programs. In a year where he vowed to see his former team recapture a bowl victory, the only victory tangible for him today, is one in court.

And this time, the court appears as intimidating as Happy Valley in a home game.

amal yamusah