For first time, Corbett talks Paterno firing

Gov. Tom Corbett

March 8, 2012 4:35:03 PM PST
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett played a role in removing former Penn State coach Joe Paterno and, for the first time, he's talking candidly about his decision.

"He did a great deal for Penn State. I wish he would have followed up after he made that report," Gov. Corbett said.

Governor Corbett has always been in a unique position when it comes to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, first as Attorney General, then as Governor. He has faced withering criticism in the months since Joe Paterno's firing was announced.

WATCH: Brian Taff's interview with Gov. Corbett - Part 1

"Quite frankly, if we're being honest, there are a whole lot of people who disagree with you vehemently every time you make a comment," said Gov. Corbett. "Until we had this conversation, I haven't talked about Mr. Paterno, I've been very careful about that."

With investigations and lawsuits swirling the governor, who is also a university trustee, has to be careful. He is also convinced he and his fellow trustees did the right thing firing Paterno, even as they still debate whether the coach did enough to stop Sandusky's alleged abuse.

"He fulfilled his legal obligation, but it continued after that. That's the unfortunate part," the governor said.

Corbett was not in the audience at Paterno's campus memorial on January 26th, but was on the mind of some who spoke there - notably Nike Chairman Phil Knight, who got a standing ovation from 12,000 when he said this:

"This much is clear to me. If there's a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno's response to it," Knight said during the memorial.

WATCH: Brian Taff's interview with Gov. Corbett - Part 2

"I'm not sure what he meant 'If there's a villain in this, it's the investigation?' If there's a villain in this, in my belief, it's the man who's been charged with the crimes against the victims," said Corbett.

That, Corbett says, has been lost - a focus on the victims. Despite invoking the wrath of legions of Paterno fans, he refuses to play one.

"As a governor, as a member of the board of trustees, I have to do what I think is in the best interest of the university, and of the state of Pennsylvania. And that's what I've done. I know not everybody is going to like it," said Corbett.

The Governor's comments about all of this came in a lengthy and exclusive discussion about a wide range of topics from the Republican presidential race, to the state budget, and beyond. You can see the entire conversation:

VIDEO: Watch Part 1 of Brian's interview

VIDEO: Watch Part 2 of Brian's interview