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Patriarch of Penn State, Paterno, Perseveres

Lots of Joe Paterno news today. is reporting that Joe Paterno and the university have agreed on a 3-year extension to the coach’s contract. The site predicts that the information will be made public by the end of the week. The story has already been picked up by Penn Live and FOX Sports.

The university spokesperson has said that the rumor is “purely speculative” at this point, according to a ticker story. The university has confirmed the rumor.

The Collegian reported that,

University President Graham Spanier and Athletic Director Tim Curley announced the agreement, but Nelson also wrote in the e-mail “the parties might re-evaluate their circumstances and alter the arrangement by either shortening or extending its length as necessary.”

The extended contract is definitely a nice birthday present for the soon to be 82 year old coach.

There’s movement online right now to give Paterno another cool birthday present. JoePa’s Virtual Birthday Party is collecting memories and media of the legendary coach. You can email submissions to them or post them to the site.

There’s more inside (including the connection between Paterno and Nixon)… trust me, it’s worth it.

We especially liked the thread they’ve started to collect the ‘82 Reasons We Love JoePa.’ Our favorite reasons posted so far include:

He has lived in Central PA for 50 years but still has a thick Brooklyn accent.

He had his 1987 team dress in sport coats and ties as they arrived for the National Championship Fiesta Bowl, while the Miami Hurricanes arrived in fatigues. Not intimidated by Miami’s dress code, the Nittany Lions went on to beat the Hurricanes 14-10 and claim a national title.

My mom took 12 years of night classes at PSU – Delaware County campus and earned her degree in 1993. My dad had written Paterno and asked if he could send a quick note of congratulations to my mom. Needless to say, he did and today it sits framed on top of the computer desk at my parents’. Class act.

You have to admire a man who told Nixon to shove it!

… wait… what? Paterno told Nixon to shove it? We hadn’t heard this before, so we Googled hard and came up with this.

Here’s the back story, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2006.

[Remember, the Lions were undefeated in both 1968 and 1969.]

In ’69, defending national champion Ohio State and Tennessee were undefeated for most of the season. In November, though, the Buckeyes were tripped up by Michigan (there has been no cooling off in that matchup over the years) and the Volunteers fell to Mississippi.

That boosted Texas and Arkansas, both unbeaten, to the top of the polls and set up their Dec. 6 matchup as a potential national championship game — if you discounted Penn State.

So Nixon, looking to improve his image in the South, decided he would attend the game in Fayetteville and award a plaque to the winner, the “national champion.” Texas won, and Nixon gave the plaque to then coach Darrel Royal, saying, “in presenting this plaque, I want to say first that the AP and the UPI will name Texas No. 1, as we know, after this game.”

Paterno, Pennyslvania’s governor, and Penn State fans responded angrily. As a penance, Nixon decided to award a plaque to Penn State lauding the team for having the sport’s longest unbeaten, untied streak.

When the White House called Paterno to extend Nixon’s invitation, the coach responded, “You tell the president to take that trophy and shove it.”

Paterno wasn’t over it after that though. In a commencement speech for the class of 1973, Paterno asked the graduates “I’d like to know, how could the president know so little about Watergate in 1973 and so much about college football in 1969?”

Hopefully, if President-elect Obama gets his way, all future encounters between the president and Paterno will be more pleasant.

About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.


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