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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Joe Paterno, the head of Penn State football, dies at 85

    With one of the greatest college coaches of all time passing away at 85 on Sunday, there is still one major question that remains unanswered: What will Joe Paterno be remembered most for? Is it his 409 victories and 24 bowl victories at Penn State or the ugly scandal with former assistant Jerry Sanduky?

    After the scandal received media attention in November of 2011, Joe Paterno’s health quickly took a turn for the worse. On Jan. 13, Paterno entered the hospital for observations stemming from lung cancer treatments. This was only two months after his son Scott told media outlets that doctors were optimistic about his father’s recovery.

    As far as the sex scandal is concerned, Paterno got a lot of heat for turning away and not turning in his former assistant to the police. This led to Paterno’s firing by the Penn State’s Board of Trustees on Nov. 9, 2011 hours after Paterno announced his resignation at the end of the season.

    Even though Paterno was not officially charged in the scandal, some believe he was just as guilty as Sandusky, simply for not telling the police. Others feel he got the short end of the stick and was considered the scapegoat. But either way, Paterno was under the spotlight of the entire nation, which surely did not help his diminishing health.

    Just a few years ago, Paterno broke his leg on the sideline during a game and was forced to coach from a press box in the 2007 Outback Bowl. In November 2008, Paterno needed hip replacement surgery after a failed demonstration in practice. Also, in August 2011, Paterno collided with a player in practice and began the season in a wheelchair.  These injuries, along with old age, led to speculation about his health. He was diagnosed with lung cancer only nine days after his firing, which shocked everyone following the story. Paterno, also commonly known as JoePa, was a coach that was well liked amongst players and fans, especially after the scandal. But some fail to recognize his records and accomplishments, which place him amongst the greats in sports.

    He spent his entire career at Penn State, which began in 1950 as an assistant head coach under Rip Engle.

    Paterno began his head-coaching career in 1966 after Engle retired. JoePa spent 62 seasons on the Nittany Lions coaching staff, 44 as head coach.

    Paterno was a two-time National champion and a three-time Big Ten champion, and he has the most Division I victories with 409 and the most bowl wins with 24. He was also named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1994, 2005 and 2008. Sports Illustrated named JoePa Sportsman of the Year in 1986.

    Whether people remember him for his outstanding coaching records or the scandal that brought much uproar, Joe Paterno will forever be known as a coaching legend.

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