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Thread: Is this JoePa's last year?

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    Default Is this JoePa's last year?

    Is this JoePa's last year? Rudel thinks so
    August 15, 2010 - By Neil Rudel,
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    Plenty of issues surround Lions, starting at the top

    UNIVERSITY PARK - If it's hard to remember Penn State entering a football season with this much uncertainty, that's probably because there's never been one.


    * There's a possibility the Nittany Lions will start a freshman quarterback and a more likely probability they'll end the season with one at the helm.n Concern surrounding the quarterback has to be exacerbated by an offensive line that Joe Paterno himself admitted Thursday, "We've got troubles there."

    * Linebacker U., though still stocked with potential standouts, returns no starters at the defense's most important position.

    * The team that will have to rely on defense and field position, especially early, will be breaking in a new punter.

    * After struggling to win the Blue-White Game, the Lions' schedule is loaded with land mines as they will visit three Top-10 teams (Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State).

    But of all the questions, there's none bigger than the one at the top, and it's this: Is the most magnificent coaching run in sports history, college or pro, about to strike midnight?

    All signs indicate Joe Paterno has finally reached his last season.

    The beloved leader of the Nittany Lions has long advocated that in football "you're always fighting time." Twenty years ago, he showed up at Media Day and, trying to convince himself, said, "I'm not 63, I'm 53."

    Well, he's 83 now, and clearly time has closed the gap on the incredible pace he's set since stepping foot on the Penn State campus in 1950.

    As he slowly made his way Thursday to take his place in the middle of the annual team picture at Beaver Stadium, followed by traditional shots with his assistants, freshman class and quarterbacks, longtime observers got the distinct sense that this would be JoePa's last such posing.

    Typically, he'd change into coaching attire for pictures. This time, he just took off his sport coat and wore his white dress shirt.

    Either for health issues that have weakened him or by choice and probably both, he backed off public appearances this summer and has already confirmed he won't be part of the Thursday night radio show. Whether he'll be up to the weekly Quarterback Club sessions, the pre-game radio interview and the Tuesday media gatherings is questionable, too.

    Standing up for three-plus hours on the sidelines and negotiating all the pre- and post-game commotion figures to present physical and logistical challenges as well - especially on the road where it may be tougher to get him on and off the field safely. That's if he's even on the field.

    JoePa is focused solely on channeling all of the energy he has left toward coaching, and he's six wins from the magical 400 plateau. Not many of them, particularly after September, will come too easily.

    He admits of his coaching staff, "They probably are carrying me."

    But no succession plan has been announced, and that's because it's not in place, which creates further uncertainty around the program.

    For so many years, most have said, and rightly so, that JoePa deserves to write his own final chapter and go out on his own terms.

    It now appears he's facing the last dozen games of a career that will undoubtedly chisel his face on the Mount Rushmore wing of coaching greats, and that 2010 will be his final hurrah.

    And if that's the case, how and where it ends for the only head coach the vast majority of the Nittany Nation has ever known, will totally overshadow any other game, win or lose, this season.

    Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or
    Are these morons getting dumber or just louder-Mayor Quimby

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    Default Re: Is this JoePa's last year?

    Another Column on JoePa !!
    Starkey: Paterno's toughest call
    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Myron Cope had lost his fastball. He just needed someone to say so.

    That can be an issue with fading sports legends: Nobody wants to tell them it's time, and even then, there is no guarantee they'll listen.

    Not that they should be required to.

    For while it would be easier on the rest of us if our sporting gods adhered to their expiration dates, the greatest of the great have earned the right to hang on for as long as they please, no matter how messy their final acts play out.

    And they do get messy. You know as much if you saw the once-graceful Willie Mays wobbling the base paths for the New York Mets. Or the once-gifted Jerry Rice running futile routes for the Seattle Seahawks.

    Or the once-godly Mario Lemieux flubbing a shootout attempt in his final days with the Penguins.

    The storyline repeats itself among athletes, coaches and even iconic broadcasters such as the late, great Cope, who was more popular than most of the players -- maybe all the players -- from the Steelers' dynasty of the 1970's.

    But this was 2004, and whispers of Cope's decline made their way to former Steelers' public-relations director and long-time Cope confidant Joe Gordon. Though he hadn't listened to a radio broadcast in years, Gordon tuned in to form an opinion. Within minutes, he realized the sad truth. His friend had slipped badly and was at risk of embarrassing himself, if he hadn't already. Gordon listened to the next week's game, just to make sure, then arranged a one-on-one meeting at Cope's home.

    Gordon had seen other Steeler greats bow out gracefully and was hoping Cope would do the same. On the morning of Dec. 20, 1981, Gordon was sitting in his hotel room when Mean Joe Greene stopped by and quietly informed him that he would be playing his final game that day, against the Houston Oilers.

    Gordon also remembered the way coach Chuck Noll stepped down in 1991, when team owner Dan Rooney emerged from a routine end-of-season meeting looking stunned.

    "Chuck's retiring," Rooney told Gordon, who immediately went to Noll's office.

    "I said, 'Dan says you're retiring,' and Chuck said, 'Yup,' " Gordon, 74, recalled Saturday. "I said, 'We better call a press conference.'

    "He said, 'That's good.' We did it early that afternoon."

    This time, with Cope, Gordon was going to be the adviser.

    "I remember it vividly," Gordon said. "I said, 'Myron, I've been listening to the broadcasts, and I think it's time.' He immediately said, 'That's it.' It was no more than 10 seconds."

    Myron being Myron, he called Gordon the next day and jokingly said, "I thought you didn't listen to the games." But in trusting Gordon, he was able to execute the kind of clean, quick and timely goodbye that eludes so many sporting luminaries.

    Which brings us to 83-year-old Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

    If you saw Paterno's recent media addresses, in advance of training camp, you had to come away wondering if his health will allow him to make it through the season incident-free.

    Like a lot of 83-year-olds, Paterno seemed frail and forgetful. One veteran scribe says Paterno appears to have aged more in the past year than in any three- or four-year span in recent memory.

    Let's be honest: Paterno is not capable of running a major college football program at this point in his life. His assistants have been doing the heavy lifting, leading the Nittany Lions to a 51-13 record over the past five years.

    Paterno has not entered a recruit's home in two years. He has "coached" some games from the press box in recent years, due to health issues. He has worked from home during spring drills and traversed the practice field in a golf cart.

    He also has sustained two injuries on the field -- a broken leg during a 2006 game against Wisconsin, when a player smashed into him, and an injured hip in 2008, when he attempted an onside kick in practice.

    Would you say Paterno does 60 percent of what the Urban Meyers and Nick Sabans and Jim Tressels of the world are doing to maintain their programs? Fifty? Much less than that?

    Many long-time Penn State observers will tell you the only person who could convince Paterno to quit is his wife, Sue. School president Graham Spanier already tried, in 2004, and was rebuffed

    But guess what? As a bona fide legend, one whose impact has been felt way beyond the football field, Paterno has earned the right to call his final shot.

    No matter how messy the final acts play out.

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    Default Re: Is this JoePa's last year?

    Growing-up as a Pitt fan, I can honestly say that I do not like Joe Paterno... Basically because he was the coach of the opposing team who was a great rivalry.

    ... But I definitely respect the man...
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Is this JoePa's last year?

    I'm a Penn St. guy through and through but I really wish JoePa would hang it up.

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