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Paterno Fired in Abrupt Ending to Iconic Career

Joe Paterno looks on at practice during his last time on a Penn State football field. Photo by Joe Hermitt of The Patriot-News.

For the first time since 1950, the Penn State Nittany Lions will take the Beaver Stadium field without any involvement from Joe Paterno.

“The Penn State Board of Trustees tonight decided it is in the best interest of the University to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing,” Board of Trustees Vice Chair John Surma said it front of a packed Deans Hall inside the Penn Stater Hotel.

The media assembled inside Deans Hall gasped when Surma announced in his seemingly prepared opening remarks that Paterno and university president Graham Spanier would be replaced, a gasp certainly as loud and large that summed up Paterno’s career as whole.

How Paterno will be viewed when the dust settles is clearly a hot topic of debate, but the numbers do not lie. Paterno finished his career with two national championships (should be three, keep that in mind with Nebraksa coming to town), three Big Ten championships, weathering some on-field struggles to become the NCAA Division I leader with 409 wins, and at this time, and winning an unheard of 24 bowl games in his time at Penn State. Paterno also was at the helm for seven undefeated, untied seasons.

From another numbers standpoint, Paterno’s monetary donations to the University are innumerable, as is the countless number of life lessons he has instilled in in players ranging six decades.

All of that aside, though, his exit was “immediate,” as Surma put it, giving an abbreviated ending to a career that was anything but abbreviated.

Paterno released a statement late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning saying,

“I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it.”

Tom Bradley was named the interim head coach this evening following Paterno’s dismissal, and he is now charged with preparing a group of football players to go out and play their biggest game to date, with a cloud of doubt hanging over their head.

About the Author

Greg Pickel

Content Contributor for all things Penn State and member of the Pennsylvania Sports Network.

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