'Paterno' book excerpts reveal Penn State coach's emotional reaction to firing

JoePa knew name forever tarnished, author writes

State College - Centre Daily TimesAugust 15, 2012 

Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno couldn’t hold back tears the day after his firing, according to a book excerpt to be published in the September issue of GQ magazine.

“My name,” Paterno is quoted in the excerpt of telling his son, Jay. “I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it’s gone.”

The excerpt is from the biography “Paterno,” which will be released Tuesday. 

The book is written by Joe Posnanski, a former Kansas City Star and Sports Illustrated columnist who spent last season in State College with Paterno.

The excerpt posted on GQ’s website Wednesday represented the first sections of the book released to the public. The board of trustees fired Paterno on Nov. 9, citing a lack of leadership.

On the day after his firing, Paterno met with assistant coaches and former players at his State College house. Paterno, according to the excerpt, “sobbed uncontrollably,” and told former Penn State captain and NFL linebacker Brandon Short, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.”

The excerpt also reveals part of Paterno’s relationship with the board of trustees, the group that ultimately approved his ouster.

Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn asked Paterno confidante and then-Penn State football director of communications and branding Guido D’Elia the name of one board member who could negotiate a clean ending for Paterno. D’Elia, according to the excerpt, told McGinn the board started turning on Paterno after a clash with then-Penn State president Graham Spanier.

“It began in 2004,” D’Elia told McGinn. “The board started to turn. We don’t have anybody on the board now.”

The board notified Paterno of his firing through a telephone call. The decision sparked a riot in downtown State College.

Former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley served as interim coach for the remainder of the season. Paterno died on Jan. 22 after a battle with lung cancer.

Paterno ended his career with an NCAA Division I-record 409 victories. But 111 of those victories were vacated last month when the NCAA announced sanctions against Penn State in the aftermath the Sandusky scandal. 

Sandusky, the longtime defensive coordinator under Paterno, was convicted on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse.

He is in Centre County Correctional Facility awaiting sentencing. A statue honoring Paterno outside Beaver Stadium was removed on July 22, one day before the NCAA announced its decision.

Posnanski received access to Paterno before the Sandusky scandal surfaced. The scandal altered the deadline and direction of the book.

Simon & Schuster reportedly gave Posnanski a $750,000 advance for the project. 

The 416-page book was originally scheduled to be released around Father’s Day 2013.

Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy

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