Sources are reporting that Joe Paterno will retire at the end of the season. Paterno is set to make the announcement later today.
ESPN reports that Paterno will coach the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions in Saturday’s home game, their last home game of the season, against #19 Nebraska.
The decision is bittersweet. No one expected Paterno’s career to end on the note it has, but he is making the right decision to retire. Speculation that Paterno had knowledge of the Sandusky scandal and did not take the proper steps in preventing it will forever shadow his career.
Paterno will go down as one of the greatest coaches to ever work in college football. Starting with Penn State as an assistant coach, Paterno had a salary of $3,000 and planned on working for a year or two to pay off student loans from his education at Brown University. He will end his career with the second highest win total in college football history with at least 409 wins, behind John Gagliardi who holds the record with 483.
There was little chance that Paterno would ever catch Gagliardi, but now that chance is gone as his career will end after 46 seasons with Penn State. Thousands of Penn State students gathered in front of Paterno’s house Tuesday night to voice their support for the long-time coach.
The announcement is not just the end of a coaching career; it marks the end of an era in Penn State and college football history. It also marks a very dark point in the history of one of the most storied programs in college football. Everyone knew it would be a rough patch for Penn State the day Joe Paterno retired. No doubt Joe Paterno’s career would leave large shoes to be filled for the next coach. But those large shoes have turned into uncomfortable ones that many coaches will cringe at wearing.
It will take Penn State a long time to recover from the scandal. Not only was Penn State football going to suffer recruiting-wise when Paterno retired, but combined with a scandal of this magnitude could lead to a prolonged dark period for the program. Paterno’s career will not be the only thing hitting a halt at the conclusion of the season. The program that Paterno spent 46 seasons building, too, will most likely die with his career.