Penn State’s athletic department quietly broke their silence on late coach Joe Paterno today and announced the team will commemorate the 50th anniversary of his first game as head coach of the Nittany Lions — a 15–7 victory over Maryland — on September 17, prior to kickoff against Temple University.
From Onward State:
The news [of the commemoration] was nestled deep in a press release today announcing the season’s promotional calendar. The Athletics Department is officially calling it “Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Coach Paterno’s first game as Penn State head coach,” although it is not yet clear what all that will entail.
Aside from briefly appearing in several pump up videos shown before kickoff, Paterno has not been officially recognized in Beaver Stadium since he walked out for the last time on October 29, 2011.
Burying an announcement of this magnitude in a press release. TPennStateM
Paterno was shit-canned on November 9, 2011, shortly after revealing his plans to retire in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, following a lost season mired in controversy. Since then, the university has removed most references to the disgraced coach, including a nine-foot statue that once stood on the east side of Beaver Stadium over which WWIII was nearly fought. Before the scandal, Paterno’s legacy was seemingly cemented as not only the winningest coach in the history of D-I ball, but also as a humanitarian and an educator -– and rightfully so. He donated millions of his own earnings and raised tens of millions more for Penn State, all while boasting one of the Big Ten’s best graduation rates for D-I players. There’s no doubt Paterno’s diligence and charity were instrumental in making Penn State the above-average land grant university it is today.
Deciding to now honor Paterno, posthumously, is a strange move, and contradicts the university’s implied decision to become disenfranchised with the late coach to avoid more controversy. Breaking their silence on Paterno is a huge deal. As long as Sandusky continues to make headlines, Paterno’s name is radioactive, as the extent of his involvement in the Penn State sex scandal isn’t clear. However, the NCAA’s decision to turn-tail and restore Paterno’s wins earlier this summer hinted at a growing sentiment within the world of college football that Paterno’s success as a coach can be separated from his failures as a supposed leader.
While no one will argue Paterno’s image as a humanitarian is forever tarnished, it seems Penn State’s athletic department is eager to ride that growing sentiment of amnesty and begin honoring the old ball coach again. Paterno is still a cultist figure in State College, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some statutes reappear in the next year or two..
[via Onward State]
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