Paterno Expert Poorman Debunks Retirement Rumors

Penn State professor Mike Poorman knows a thing or two about Joe Paterno.

Poorman’s biography reads like a survey of the Penn State media landscape: former sports editor of the Daily Collegian, cofounder of the Penn State Football Annual, original editor of Blue White Illustrated, and former associate sports editor of the Centre Daily Times. His current gig has kept him in the loop too. As a College of Communications faculty member, Poorman teaches a popular course called Joe Paterno and the Media.

That’s why I read Poorman’s latest column for with extreme interest. In it, Poorman offered his opinion on the rumors of an impending retirement announcement from Joe Paterno. The Paterno expert wastes no time refuting the basic claims in the apparently widely circulated email:

Joe Paterno does not have cancer. He is 84 years old, so occasionally he misspeaks and meanders off-topic. He needs a hearing aid. He plans on staying on as head coach at Penn State. Tom Bradley — likely and if so, correctly, I believe — saw the vacancies at Pitt and Temple as his best two career bets.

Poorman goes on to call out Matt Baxendell, a sportswriter from Atlanta who claims in this video report to have received confirmation from a trustworthy source that the Outback Bowl will indeed by Joe Paterno’s final game as head coach of Penn State. Poorman said that Baxendell’s argument is “almost laughable” and consists of nothing more than “speculation, based on shreds of old news and tenuous math.”

He also laments that a number of “reputable outlets” have passed along the rumors started by both Baxendell and the infamous email. Onward State has not published the email, but we did include a summary of the rumors in an earlier post.

Poorman said in the column that he takes Joe at his word and that when the coach said in November that he was coming back to coach in 2011, he was “firing the opening salvo, using the media as a bully pulpit to force Penn State‚Äôs hand and honor their three-year agreement, which has next season as the final year.”

Patriot-News sportswriter David Jones echoed Poorman’s argument, saying that Paterno does not have cancer and that Tony Dungy is not coming to coach the Nittany Lions. He did not, however, directly address the retirement rumor.

Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon has also denied that there has been any discussion of a Paterno retirement announcement following the Outback Bowl.

For what it’s worth, the Penn State Football Facebook page has linked to Poorman’s column. The page administrators do not often direct users to domains other than, suggesting an endorsement of Poorman’s argument. On the other hand though, the page administrators would probably not be privy to discussions about a potential Joe Paterno retirement announcement.

The rumors haven’t died down this week though. NBC Sports blog College Football Talk posted a few days ago that multiple sources “in and around the athletic department” have said Paterno will step down after the bowl game and that a national search for a new head coach will ensue.

Penn State Athletic Department spokesman Jeff Nelson told College Football Talk in response to a question about the rumors that “Coach Paterno has already publicly stated his plan to continue coaching and we have no comment on rumor or speculation to the contrary.”

We won’t know for sure until next week, but personally I trust Poorman’s assessment of the situation. His ties to the Penn State football community are deep and he is a certainly one of the most knowledgable sportswriters on the beat. And I know I wouldn’t mind having JoePa around for my final year at Penn State. What do you all think? Is Joe about to go or is this just another in the cycle of retirement rumors that have been part of the Penn State football story for the last decade?

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.

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