Remembering Joe Paterno by Morgan Lipsiner

Penn State coach Joe Paterno died January 22, 2012 at the age of 85 after a battle with lung cancer. With the controversy surrounding former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s legend and the Penn State football program have been deeply tarnished. Joe Paterno passed only two months after his firing. His death leaves fans perturbed with a sense of grief over the firing and untimely death after such a distinguished career. Tributes have been made to Paterno from politicians, university officials, former players and alumni. Paterno will be remembered more for his accomplishments with the Penn State program rather than for his downfall.

Paterno was fired November 9, 2011 after being criticized for not going to the police in 2002 when he was informed that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had been seen molesting a boy in the showers at the football complex. The renowned Coach is responsible for 409 wins throughout his time with the Penn State program as head coach and ambassador for the university. Following the scandal, Paterno retired as the NCAA record holder for wins and bowl victories as well as having more than 250 of his players go on to the play in the NFL.

Before Penn State, Paterno was the quarterback a Brown University from 1946-1949. After turning down law school he moved directly into coaching for Penn State as an assistant coach in 1950. Fifteen years later he took over as head of the program skyrocketing the team to the top of college football. Penn State earned two national titles in 1982 and 1986 under the leadership of Paterno. In his later coaching years Paterno faced some negative attention from critics about his age claiming he was unable to win in the modern era. Paterno proved critics wrong when the Nittany Lions earned a spot in the Orange Bowl in 2005 and the Rose Bowl in 2008 along with earning at least 9 wins every season from 2005 through 2009.

Despite Paterno’s impressive career and dedication to the Penn State program it was not enough to save him from the Sandusky sex scandal. Although he was at no legal fault in the case his moral obligations were called into question with many believing he could have done more to prevent the incidents from continuing. Paterno retired after being relieved of his coaching duties on November 9, 2011 and passed away January 22, 2012.

After his passing the legend of Paterno comes into question. There is a controversy of positive and negative attitudes from fans surrounding the death of such a legendary man. The influence of the sex scandal has plagued the reputation of the Penn State program and shattered Paterno’s legacy. With Paterno, character came first, championships second, and academics always came before athletics. While most dedicated fans remember Paterno for what he did for the Penn State program he also faces criticism regarding his moral obligations concerning the sex scandal. The debate as to how Paterno will be remembered is on going as well as heartbreaking to many to see their beloved coach being faced with so much turmoil after his passing.

Below is a video honoring Penn State Coach Joe Paterno

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