The results are in, and Joe Paterno has been voted as the “best college football coach of all time” in the Arizona Republic poll. Nearly 327,125 votes were cast in the bracket style tournament, with Paterno defeating Chris Petersen in the final round (yes, Boise State’s Chris Petersen made it to the finals).
The Arizona Republic, a newspaper based out of Phoenix, has been running the tournament for over a month now. It’s certainly an interesting bracket — with Eastern Kentucky’s 16th seeded Roy Kidd upsetting the number 1 seed Bear Bryant in the first round. 2 seed Bobby Bowden was also upset in the first round by Carson-Newman’s Ken Sparks.
But who cares if the voters were on something? The third seeded Paterno won, defeating Mack Brown (Texas), Frank Kush (Arizona State), John Gagliardi (St. John’s), Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), Duffy Daugherty (Michigan State), and Chris Petersen (Boise State) on the way to the title.
Although the evidence is strictly anecdotal, it could be a sign of an evolving narrative for Paterno and his legacy. While I’m sure Penn State’s legendary ability to mobilize people online to win things that require voting had a lot to do with it, it’s still an accomplishment to win a competition that garnered over 300,000 votes.
For most of the last 13 months, it’s been almost impossible to read the comment section on an online article about Penn State without Paterno being maligned. In the Arizona Republic blurb announcing the winner, the comment section is overwhelmingly pro-Paterno — and it doesn’t appear to be all Penn Staters, either.
In any case, it’s nice to see JoePa’s name associated with something positive again, no matter how small. Here’s hoping it continues.