To paraphrase a rotund cable sports personality, no one circles the wagons like Joe Paterno. Every time people try to start shoveling dirt on his career, he comes out of the gates undefeated and has his team in the Top 10 and angling for BCS glory.
And everytime this occurs as is happening this season as 6-0 Penn St. goes on the road to Camp Randall Stadium to take on the Wisconsin Badgers, the fact that Joe is too old and too out of touch to get out on the road and make personal recruiting visits is alternately perceived as wisely “delegating” those responsibilities to his younger assistants. And, of course, Penn St. goes from having a “stagnating program” without any “succession plan” in a post-JoePa world to that of “Joe’s feeling great and the passion is still there so don’t expect him to step down any time soon”.
While back at Penn St. a couple of weeks back, never more did we witness a football program and an entire Unversity that was dominated more by the past legacy and current force of personality of a single person than there in State College, PA. And we saw this fully-justified reverence/kool-aid drinking dichotomy, firsthand, along with some rather interesting rationalizations for a big-time college football program: “Actually, the program is designed to make a run at the BCS championship (only) every 4 or 5 years.”
And don’t delude yourself for a moment to think that Joe’s (pending?) retirement plans are not inextricably tied to those of Florida St.’s Bobby Bowden, who is in a very similar situation and who is locked in a Wild West stare-down with JoePa as the two vie for the honor of most collegiate coaching victories. (Currently, Paterno has 378 and Bowden sits at 376. Who’s gonna blink first?
Anyway, good read here regarding Greg Schiano, former Paterno assistant, current Rutgers HC and alleged heir apparent to Paterno and who has, himself, what would appear to be some “stagnation” problems with his football program that is of this posting, 1-4.