Big Ten Championship Trophy Going Stagg
I wish I were writing this to inform everyone that Big Ten divisions are no longer being referred to as “Legends” and “Leaders.” Sadly, the purpose instead centers around yesterday’s news that the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, which will be awarded to the winner of the conference each year, is now officially just the Stagg Championship Trophy. The trophy has undergone a name change before even being awarded.
For those who do not know, Stagg refers to Amos Alonzo Stagg who coached from 1890 to 1946, most notably at the University of Chicago, but that is not important here. What is important is that the living legend that is Joe Paterno is no longer associated with the trophy. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany issued the following statement regarding the decision:
“We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno’s name on the trophy at this time. The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial. We believe that it’s important to keep the focus on the players and the teams that will be competing in the inaugural championship game.”
Paterno’s situation is not comparable to that of other college coaches who have been fired. Most coaches who lose their jobs are not eighty-four years old, have not spent sixty-one years at a university, do not live two minutes from campus and ten minutes from their workplace, and do not have the type of impact on a university that Paterno has had. Many coaches who are fired will simply pack their bags and leave for another area and another job, but Paterno only knows Penn State and State College. This is his home.
Paterno’s legacy will be hotly debated in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. Although this was not a university decision regarding the trophy, it is not inconceivable that there will be talk of removing his name from the library and maybe even removing his statue outside of Beaver Stadium.
One could argue that the Board of Trustees rushed to a decision without knowing all of the facts regarding its decision to fire Paterno, and the theme may not stop there.