Penn State Needs to End Paterno’s Time in Power
Joe Paterno has been at the helm of Penn State football since 1966. In the world of intercollegiate sports it’s hard to find a coach that has a tenure with the same institution for more than ten years. In the past 37 seasons, Coach Paterno has won an astonishing 336 games, breaking Paul “Bear” Bryant’s record of 323 set at the University of Alabama. Besides obtaining the most wins in NCAA Division 1-A football, Paterno has two national championships (1982 and 1986) and a Big Ten conference championship in 1994 (DeLassus). These great moments add to the tradition of Penn State football history, but that’s exactly the point, Paterno’s triumphs are history. The past four seasons, including the 2003 season, have consisted of more losses than wins. Recent trends in college football usually point the blame of a losing football team in the direction of the head coach. For Penn State and Joe Paterno this situation should be no different. The dilemma is in the hands of the school’s Director of Athletics, Timothy M. Curley, who has to convince one of the greatest football coaches to step away from the game he has been devoted to for over 50 years.
Joe Paterno’s name is synonymous with Penn State football. The program has accomplished a lot since the 1960s. How many football programs have clinched two national championships? In fact, how many coaches can claim the same? Since 1995, no team has been able to win successive national championships. Penn State can’t claim a single title since 1986, and hasn’t been in contention for one since their 1994 season. Now seventy-six years old, “Coach Joe Pa” has long forgotten his way of building a strong football program. His years of winning 300 plus games have disappeared behind a dense fog of losses, “with a 21-23 record since 2000” (Daugherty). Records weigh heavily in the highly competitive world of college football. Every season a coach puts his career on the line and when games are lost, so is their job. Several coaches who have had the same lack of success that Paterno has had lately have lost their jobs. Bob Davie was fired from his job at Notre Dame after a 6-6 season record with the Irish in 2001. John Mackovic lost his coaching position half way through his 2003 campaign with the Arizona Wildcats with a 30-34 win/loss record. These coaches don’t match Paterno’s career overall, but are equivalent in their last five seasons with their respective programs.
Freeing the team from Joe Paterno allows them to find a coach that knows how to win football games now. Paterno “When you watch Joe at practice, he runs from drill to drill. He's extremely smart. He's not detached” (Dye). If Penn State has been playing so poorly and Paterno seems to have so much control over the team at practices and on the field then doesn’t a correlation stand out? A concern on the minds of Penn State coaches, players, alumni, and thousands of other fans is that...