It's Joe Paterno's 82nd birthday. We should be celebrating...
Here's my note about the greatest coach college football has ever seen - bar none.
Quite simply, Joe Paterno is the reason why I root for Penn State Football.
In 2003, I saw a documentary on ESPN Classic about Joe Paterno and his love for his players. He broke down and cried in the interview. It really got me. I said: "If that's the sort of coach that Penn State have, then I'm rooting for Penn State." I really haven't looked back since - even though 2003 and 2004 were less than fun (I can name the 6-2 home defeat to Iowa as just one of the less-than-memorable losses".
But since then, he's turned around what had been a flagging program. 2005 - with the decision to play outstanding freshmen Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams- was a banner year for Penn State, with the roars ringing round Happy Valley in celebration of a Big Ten title. Then, the cheers were louder in Florida a month or two later after an emotionally exhausting Orange Bowl victory. The 2006/7 season brought forth another winning season and another January bowl victory. 2007 wasn't wonderful - but PSU still won a Bowl game, and 2008 once again saw the phoenix rise from the flames, the Nittany Lions celebrating with a journey to the Rose Bowl and their second Big Ten title in four seasons.
In those four years, Joe Paterno's cemented his iconic status. What other 80-year old injures his hip demonstrating an onside kick, or becomes the hero of Happy Valley for telling a driver that his girlfriend was "his problem"?
He's cranky, but he's got passion - and another three years.
Thanks for everything Joe Paterno.