Joe Paterno: Old Steady

Posted: 3rd October 2009 by DavidBurnett in Coaches, College Football, NCAA
Tags: , , ,

I watched an old-fashioned Big Ten football game Saturday afternoon. Penn State against Illinois. It turned out to be an easy Penn State victory 35 to 17.


I decided to sit through this relatively meaningless game as a way to honor the past. Years ago a game like this actually mattered but I also remember that we only had a couple of TV channels from which to choose.

I was struck most by the sight of octogenarian Joe Paterno back patrolling the sidelines looking as lively as he did 20 years ago when he was only 62.

Okay, yes I admit it. Any post I write about Joe Paterno must deal with his age. It’s hard to shake it. From a news standpoint the only thing that really matters is that JoePa is very old and he’s still winning. By the way he is the winningest coach in major college football history.

But the other not so nice story that we can’t politely talk about, is that we are also looking for the first sign that this old dude is slipping. Is he going to mix up some names? Does he know where the game is being played? Come on be honest I know that crosses your mind – right?

But even looking closely I don’t see a hint of slippage in Joe Paterno.

What I do see is a guy who can still mix it up, command the sidelines and win.

Now the hard to please will grant Paterno his much due props for being a miracle of old age, but they will also quickly point out that Old Joe still can’t beat Iowa, USC or any of those teams in the SEC. True that. But should that matter?

Years ago a game like Penn State/Illinois was the Game of the Week. But unfortunately not anymore.

So, no, it was not a pretty game by 21st Century standards, but it was definitely old school. With a smart old guy on the sideline keeping things nice and steady.

That was good enough for me.

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