I wrote an opinion piece on April 15, 2016, titled “Time to Recognize the Legacy of Joe Paterno.” I mentioned that the trials of Spanier, Curley and Shultz were still pending and hopefully after that was over maybe we could move forward with recognizing Joe Paterno’s legacy. Now that the trials are over and the sentences have been handed out, I hope that we may see some movement on the part of Penn State to really make a meaningful recognition of all that Paterno has meant not only to the world of college football but to the university at large (the Paterno’s gave more than $4 million to the university) and to the host of players who wore the plain blue and white uniforms.
I guess one reason that my pen was taken up again to express my thoughts was the newly released book that I received recently on Richie Moran, the legendary men’s lacrosse coach from Cornell University, called “It’s Great To Be Here.” Richie was the lacrosse coach while I was a graduate student at Cornell University. I believe that Richie and Joe were cut from the same coaching timber, and it is time for Joe to again be recognized for his similar achievements throughout his long and legendary career at Penn State. If you were to view Richie’s achievements, they mirror many of Joe’s, the only difference is the sports they coached. Richie had 29 seasons as Cornell head coach, while Joe had 46 at Penn State. Richie had a record of 257-121, while Joe’s was 409-136-3, most wins by any coach in Division I history. Richie had three undefeated seasons and three national championships, while Joe had five undefeated seasons and two national championships. Joe had the most bowl wins of any coach in Division I. Richie was 3-time USILA Coach of the Year and also USILA Man of the Year, while Joe received 17 similar awards and honors. Richie coached 117 All-Americans while Joe coached 30 consensus All-Americans and coached more than 250 future NFL players. Both Richie and Joe were awesome dads and even more awesome grandpas. To quote from the foreword in the book by Jeremy Schaap, of ESPN, “Richie happens to be one of the all-time greats based strictly on his record, but more important no coach at any level has cared more about his players or has been more invested in their success, beyond the game, and in their lives.” I would say that the same was true of Joe Paterno.
I guess that is what I read and hear the most about Joe Paterno is that he cared about his players and wanted them to go on in their careers after football and be productive members of their communities. He cared about their education and felt that he let the parents down if the player didn’t complete his degree. He wanted Penn State to be the best university for all the students and put his resources and energy behind that goal. He was an ambassador for the university all the time and advertised it every Saturday afternoon in the fall on national TV. He lived “Success with Honor.”
I want to finish with the line from the end of one of my favorite movies, “Gladiator.”
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“He was a soldier of Rome, honor him, who will help me carry him?” That is the question that I pose to the Penn State administration and board of trustees: “He was a legendary coach, teacher of life’s lessons and values to countless young men, a true friend and loyal supporter of Penn State, honor him, who will help me carry him”?
Bill Lamont is a Petersburg resident.