Carr made his comments Saturday night during an interview session with reporters before he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Critics have called for the sculpture to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of the 1998 allegations against Sandusky and that the former Nittany Lions’ head coach was involved in the decision to hide a 2001 incident from authorities.
The Freeh report’s conclusions about Paterno were very difficult to hear, Carr said.
“It’s really a hard issue for people who knew him from this standpoint: Nobody, nobody defends what happened to those kids,” Carr said. “And the jury spoke to that. But you know the environment is such that a lot of people find that very difficult to say anything positive, you know. And that was not the Joe Paterno I knew.”
Carr said whatever decisions are made by the school or the NCAA, this much is certain:
“They’d better get it right. And what that is, I don’t know,” he said.
Carr coached the Wolverines for 13 years, had a .753 winning percentage, won five Big Ten championships and captured a national title.
Also honored Saturday night were former Ohio State running back Eddie George and Deion Sanders, the Florida State defensive back who went on to play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl.
George said he’d narrowed his choices for colleges down to Penn State and Ohio State and after a trip to an empty stadium in Columbus, Ohio, where he just looked around and felt the cold, he made his decision on the spot.
“It just feels right, like I can do great things here at Ohio State,” George recalled. And he did, winning the Heisman Trophy and going on to a standout NFL career.
Also enshrined were: Carlos Alvarez, WR, Florida; Chris Bisaillon, WR, Illinois Wesleyan; Doug English, DT, Texas; Bill “Earthquake” Enyard, FB, Oregon St.; Marty Lyons, DT, Alabama; Russell Maryland, DT Miami, Fla.; Rich McGeorge, TE, Elon; Rex Mirich, DT/OT, Northern Arizona; Jake Scott, DB, Georgia; Will Shields, OG, Nebraska; Darryl Talley, LB, West Virginia; Clendon Thomas, HB, Oklahoma; Rob Waldrop, DL, Arizona; Gene Washington, WR, Michigan State. And coaches Fisher DeBerry, Air Force, and Ron Harms (Concordia (Neb.), Adams State (Colo.), Texas A&M - Kingsville).
Four persons were enshrined posthumously: Jim Holder, RB, Oklahoma Panhandle State; Sandy Stephens, QB Minnesota; and coaches Gene Carpenter (Adams State (Colo.), Millersville (Pa.); and William “Lone Star” Dietz (Washington State, Purdue, Louisiana Tech, Wyoming, Haskell Indian Institute (Kan.), Albright (Pa.).