The Rise And Fall Of Joe Paterno

joe paterno

Photo: AP Images

After 61 years of coaching at Penn State, this will be Joe Paterno’s last year on the sidelines.In six decades Paterno has become an icon in State College — rising from a coaching assistant to a head coach to the public face and embodiment of the university.

Given his legendary status, his sudden fall is one of the more stunning in sports history.

Before we knew Paterno as the head coach of the Nittany Lions, he was a quarterback at Brown

When Paterno graduated in 1950, he took a job as an assistant coach at Penn State

The recent college grad was hired by head coach Rip Engle.

Engle was Paterno's coach at Brown.

Joe Paterno worked as an assistant for 16 years until Rip Engle retired in 1966. Paterno took over the top spot

Just three years later, Paterno was offered the head coaching job at the Pittsburgh Steelers

Paterno obviously turned that down. The New York Giants also reportedly tried to poach Paterno in the early 70's, as did the University of Michigan, and the New England Patriots. But Paterno stuck with his Penn State.

As he turned down all these job offers, Paterno was building a powerhouse.

Sticking with the Nittany Lions was a good choice. Paterno won it all at the 1983 National Championship

The Nittany Lions beat Georgia 27-24 in the Sugar Bowl to take home the national championship for the 1982 season.

Penn State won the championship again in 1986 when they beat the University of Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

After winning his second national championship Paterno was named Sportsman of the Year for the 1985-1986 season

Paterno didn't call it quits after two championships.

He went on to win take his team to 37 bowl games, winning 24 of them, more than any other coach in history.

Paterno is also the only coach to have won all four of the major bowls--Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar.

He's also seen more than 200 of his former players go on to be successful in the NFL, and his team has won three Big 10 Championships since joining the conference in 1993.

And he's racked up a ton of awards along the way

Paterno has been named the AFCA Coach of the Year five times, the Bobby Dodd coach of the year twice, the Walter Camp coach of the year award three times, and the Big 10 Conference coach of the year three times... and these are just examples, there are many more.

Paterno is an icon in State College, PA, and in college football

The Penn State library is named after him, and this statue sits in front of Beaver Stadium.

Last spring, even the Big 10 Championship game was named after him.

In 2006, Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame.

For the last few years Paterno has been more figurehead than coach. He watches games from the press box now, although he still goes to every practice

Paterno's fall began on Nov. 5, 2011 when his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts of sexual child abuse

The grand jury report accompanying the arrest alleged that Paterno was told by a graduate assistant that Sandusky had raped a 10-year-old boy in the shower of a PSU football facility in 2002

After he told Curley, he never followed up with campus police or Sandusky himself

Since Paterno is not an administrator at PSU, he fulfilled his legal obligation by telling the athletic director about the shower incident.

Ultimately, Curley and another administrator were charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse. But Paterno was not charged.

Many believe Paterno failed in his moral obligation to follow up. He also allowed Sandusky to hang around the program up until the week before he was arrested, despite full knowledge of the alleged 2002 rape on campus.

When the scandal blew up on Nov. 8, Paterno planned to answer questions at a press conference. But the university President abruptly canceled it

The alleged muzzling of Paterno ignited a power struggle between JoePa and university brass.

Eventually Paterno spoke to students on his lawn in a remarkable quasi-press conference

That night, more than a thousand defiant Penn State students took to the streets in a futile attempt to support their legendary coach

Today he announced that he will retire after this season. But the Board of Trustees decided he must be fired immediately

That's it, he won't coach another game.

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