Archive for the ‘Joe Paterno’ Category

Joe Paterno is gone, but our struggle with his legacy endures

Statues are made of bronze. People, alas, are flesh and blood. (AP photo)

Statues come in bronze. People are more complicated. (AP photo)

In death as in life, timing matters. Had Joe Paterno died Jan. 22, 2011, he’d have been hailed as the one coach who’d negotiated the murky waters of contemporary college football and left, both his sport and this world, with dignity shining. Every obituary would have included, no further down than the second paragraph, the line: “He did it the right way.”

But Joe Paterno died Jan. 22, 2012, and today every first paragraph is duty-bound to mention of his forced departure from Penn State 2 1/2 months before his death, a departure triggered not because some recruit was given a new car but because a longtime assistant coach was indicted for child sex abuse.

Joe Paterno took two national championships, won more games at the major-college level than any other football coach and never saw his program penalized by the NCAA. Had he died at age 84, as opposed to 85, we would have mourned his passing while celebrating a life …

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An astonishing saga: Penn State tells Joe Paterno to go away

Joe Paterno on his last afternoon as Penn State's coach. (AP photo)

Joe Paterno at football practice on his last afternoon as Penn State's coach. (AP photo)

Even at the bitter end, Joe Paterno wanted to choose the time of his leaving. His letter of impending-at-season’s-end resignation, offered earlier Wednesday, included this virtual dare to those who were technically his superiors: “At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status.”

Twelve hours later, Penn State’s Board of Trustees took his dare. The man who’d worked at the university since 1950 — Richard Nixon, who would as President of these United States incur Paterno’s wrath by declaring Texas and not Paterno’s undefeated Nittany Lions the best college football team of 1969, was then a freshman Senator from California — will coach no more.

Joe Paterno made it through 45 full seasons as head coach, but he’s out, at age 84, with three regular-season games remaining in the 46th. We can and will debate for years whether this was the right course for …

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Vince Dooley on Joe Paterno: ‘It’s an unfortunate situation’

Joe Paterno on the day he announced his intention to resign. (AP photo)

Joe Paterno on the day he announced his intention to resign at season's end. (AP photo)

Vince Dooley has known Joe Paterno for nearly 50 years. “We’re friends,” Dooley said. “Not close friends, but we started out together [Dooley became Georgia's head coach in 1964; Paterno took over at Penn State in 1966] and we coached in a college all-star game in Atlanta, and we went on a lot of Nike trips together. We got to know him and his wife Sue very well.”

Dooley spoke Wednesday morning, moments after Paterno announced his intention to retire at season’s end. And the man who retired from coaching in 1988 at 56 said this of the man who kept going until age 84: “It probably was time for him to retire.”

Dooley won one national championship at Georgia. On New Year’s Day 1983, his Bulldogs were denied another title by Paterno and Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. A defense coordinated by Jerry Sandusky held Heisman winner Herschel Walker to 103 yards rushing and lifted the Nittany Lions to a …

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Why Joe Paterno can’t be allowed to coach another game

Penn State president Graham Spanier with his boss Joe Paterno. (AP photo)

Here's Penn State president Graham Spanier, shown with his boss Joe Paterno. (AP photo)

Penn State felt the need to cancel Joe Paterno’s news conference Tuesday, but allowed him to conduct practice later that afternoon. On Saturday the Nittany Lions will play host to Nebraska. Paterno cannot be allowed to lead Penn State onto the field.

In all likelihood, the Nebraska game would have been the 84-year-old’s last home date as coach if Jerry Sandusky had remained a footnote in Penn State’s athletic annals, but whatever Paterno wanted is immaterial now. At issue is if a proud university wants to be remembered as a school that was handed a last chance to do something and finally did it, or as an institution that again chose to do next to nothing.

The New York Times reports that, in May 1999, Paterno told Sandusky he wouldn’t become Penn State’s head coach when the incumbent, meaning Paterno, retired. Could it have been mere coincidence that, in 1998, Penn State had investigated …

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