“The fact that we’ve won a lot of games is that the good Lord kept me healthy, not because I’m better than anybody else,” Paterno said two days before he won his 409th game and passed Eddie Robinson of Grambling State for the most in Division I. “It’s because I’ve been around a lot longer than anybody else.”
Paterno could be conservative on the field, especially in big games, relying on the tried-and-true formula of defense, the running game and field position.
He and his wife, Sue, raised five children in State College. Anybody could telephone him at his home _ the same one he appeared in front of on the night he was fired _ by looking up “Paterno, Joseph V.” in the phone book.
He walked to home games and was greeted and wished good luck by fans on the street. Former players paraded through his living room for the chance to say hello. But for the most part, he stayed out of the spotlight.
Paterno did have a knack for jokes. He referred to Twitter, the social media site, as “Twittle-do, Twittle-dee.”
He also could be abrasive and stubborn, and he had his share of run-ins with his bosses or administrators. And as his legend grew, so did the attention to his on-field decisions, and the questions about when he would hang it up.
Calls for his retirement reached a crescendo in 2004. The next year, Penn State went 11-1 and won the Big Ten. In the Orange Bowl, PSU beat Florida State, coached by Bowden, who was eased out after the 2009 season after 34 years and 389 wins.
Like many others, he was outlasted by “JoePa.”
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