At least not on the field.
He has more bowl victories than any other coach in history with a record of 24-12-1. At one point, this man was the only coach to have won each of the four major bowls (Orange, Rose, Fiesta, and Sugar) and the Cotton Bowl Classic at least once. Two national championships, five undefeated seasons (four of which were not awarded a national championship), three B1G TEN championships, and numerous coach of the year awards. He left behind over 400 wins (74.7%) and, strictly speaking in terms of X’s and O’s, a football legacy that will forever be remembered as one of the greatest.
He was Joe Paterno.
He is Penn State Football.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past nine months, Joe Paterno, often referred to by colleagues and the media as JoePa, was fired in November 2011 for his association with the Jerry Sandusky case. Sandusky was eventually indicted on 52 counts of child molestation. Former FBI director Louis Freeh conducted an investigation, ultimately concluding JoePa (along with three other university officials) deliberately tried to cover up Sandusky’s actions in order to preserve the impeccable image Penn State had developed over the years. JoePa lied before a grand jury, saying he had no knowledge of any possible child abuse prior to a 2001 incident that Mike McQueary had reported to him. Joe did, in fact, know about the 1998 Sandusky investigation which he followed very closely when a young boy’s mother complained to police.
We get it.
To have known little boys were being molested on the Penn State campus, including football facilities, and not do anything about it is sickening. Sure, when McQueary informed Paterno in 2001, JoePa did the right thing by informing the Director of Athletics Tim Curley, then later informing Gary Schultz who oversaw the University Police. What about when both Schultz and Curley don’t take their necessary actions? JoePa, working on basic human morals, had an obligation to see the situation out, and see that it was properly resolved. He did not.
‘Dirtbag’ is the one word I think of when I think of Joe Paterno outside of football. He should not be remembered only for what happened outside of the game, though.
When it comes down to X’s and O’s, Joe Paterno was one of the greatest coaches the sport of football has ever seen (look at the numbers), yet nobody will think of that in the future when his name gets brought up. The first thing that will flood your mind is the Sandusky scandal and Paterno’s involvement with it. If you are able to see past his lack of morals off the field at all, then you should remember Joe Paterno as a great football coach.
At least we do know that if there is life after death, Michael Jackson is likely asking JoePa about recruiting strategies.