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Paterno to retire at end of season
Question of the Day
“It’s sad to see it happen under such a bad situation but at the same time everyone was sort of preparing themselves for it.”
Paterno’s requirement that his players not just achieve success but adhere to a moral code, that they win with honor, transcended his sport. Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke basketball coach, said in June for an ESPN special on Paterno: “Values are never compromised. That’s the bottom line.”
His sudden departure leaves his fans and detractors wondering who exactly was the real “Joe Pa.”
Was he a gentle once-in-a-lifetime leader with a knack for molding champions?
Or was he simply another gridiron pragmatist, a detached football CEO, his sense of right and wrong diluted by decades of coddling from “yes” men paid to make his problems disappear.
It will be a debate for years, and history will decide whether the enduring image will be that of Paterno surrounded by all those reporters as he hurried to practice this week, or his signature look on the sidelines.
Rolled-up khakis. Jet-black sneakers. Smoky, thick glasses. That famous Brooklyn accent that came off only as whiny as he wanted it to be.
“Deep down, I feel I’ve had an impact. I don’t feel I’ve wasted my career,” Paterno once said. “If I did, I would have gotten out a long time ago.”
National titles in 1982 and 1986 _ with defenses under Sandusky _ cemented him as one of the game’s greats. In all, Paterno guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons, and he reached 300 wins faster than any other coach.
A year after he arrived at sleepy Penn State in 1966, Paterno began a 30-0-1 streak fueled by players such as Jack Ham and Dennis Onkotz.
But the Nittany Lions fell short in the polls, finishing No. 2 in 1968 and 1969 despite 11-0 records, and No. 5 in 1973 despite a 12-0 record.
In 1969, Texas edged out Penn State for the title with help from an unlikely source: President Richard Nixon declared the Longhorns No. 1 after their bowl game.
Elite status finally arrived in the 1980s. The Nittany Lions claimed national titles in 1982, with a 27-23 win over Georgia at the Sugar Bowl, and in 1986, intercepting Miami’s Vinny Testaverde five times in a 14-10 win at the Fiesta Bowl.
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