Paterno’s Run Nearing its End?

College football coaches come and go. Some stay with a program for a certain amount of time to make their mark and then move on to bigger and better things. For some, though, they dedicate their whole career to one program that produces winning results and NFL-caliber players. One can look no further and think of Penn State's Joe Paterno.

For 58 years, Paterno has been part of the Nittany Lions football program, serving 42 as its head coach. At the age of 80, though, it's time for Paterno to think about hanging it up and moving aside for someone younger waiting in the wings to take over a program like Penn State.

Many can't argue against Paterno's record of 369 wins and 123 losses. He guided the Nittany Lions to two national championships in 1982 and 1986 and 22 bowl victories, with 33 appearances in bowl games. And since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1993, Paterno guided Penn State to two Big Ten football championships in 1994 and 2005.

JoePa, as he's known around the sprawling campus of Penn State, attended Brown University where he had the idea of attending law school and not even thinking about football. While at Brown, he played quarterback and cornerback, but his play was not spectacular where he still shares the career record for interceptions with 14. It was at Brown, though, that Paterno was able to develop his skills to become a leader on the gridiron. He joined Hall of Famer Rip Engle's Penn State staff as an assistant coach in 1950 and from there, the opportunities were endless.

"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital," Paterno has been quoted as saying, in his coaching style.

It was from 2001 to 2004 that Penn State struggled on the gridiron. For Paterno, that was a time period that he became the focal point of their failure on the field and the lackluster success of Penn State's football program. Paterno made it known for the 2005 season, "if we don't win some games, I've got to get my rear out of here .... simple as that." But it was in 2005 that Paterno was able to turn the Nittany Lions around, sharing the Big Ten title and gaining a first BCS bowl game bid in the Orange Bowl.

Once his contract expires in 2008, Paterno should leave on a high note. In his 42 years as head coach of Penn State, he has never come under an NCAA probation or serious investigation for wrongdoing. He has enough wins and accolades — from winning the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award in 1978 and 1982 to being named the Coach of the Year several times — to know that he built Penn State into a powerhouse program.

Many of the students that attend Penn State to play football know that they are going into a class organization that asks a lot of their players. Paterno's "Grand Experiment" that he created in 1966 to mold academics and athletics together has been a success. Penn State's players have demonstrated above-average success and their graduation rate exceeded the national average of 64 percent many times.

"Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all locks," Paterno has been quoted as saying. "The name on the front of the jersey is what really matters, not the name on the back."

A name that Paterno has worn for 58 years: the Nittany Lions.

Comments and Conversation

October 24, 2007


Umm…so what is the exact reason why he should retire?

The whole article was a retrospect of his career and you never gave any reason why he should leave.

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