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Rumors fly that JoePa will retire after bowl game

Joe Paterno

A couple of days before Penn State’s regular-season finale against Michigan State, Joe Paterno made it very clear that he intends on returning for the 2011 season.

“I’m looking forward to it,” the 84-year-old coach, whose three-year contract expires next year, said. “I think we can be a pretty good football team next year, and I’d like to be a part of it. … It’s been a good situation and I don’t see any reason to leave it right now.”

Those words put out there for public consumption, however, may belie what’s truly going on behind the scenes a month later.  The speculation has been ongoing for many days, if not weeks, and has now become too loud, too consistent and, most importantly, too voluminous to ignore.

If the rumblings are correct, Coach Paterno will lead Penn State in the Outback Bowl and then ride off into the retirement sunset.  Again.  Allegedly.

At least that’s what multiple sources in and around the athletic department are saying, all of whom state very emphatically that the wheels have been set in motion for Paterno to step down gracefully following the bowl game and for the school to commence a national search for someone currently outside of the football program to replace the living legend.  All point to significant health concerns as being the reason behind the rumored abdication of his Happy Valley throne.

Rumors of family and close friends filling up extra planes to be with him for the bowl game abound, as do the connotations drawn from Tom Bradley, his loyal and trusted assistant of 32 years, actively seeking the Temple opening ultimately filled by Steve Addazio.  One former Nittany Lion player still connected to the program suggested to CFT that Bradley’s involvement in the Owls hunt for a new head coach is the biggest sign yet that the end is near for Paterno.  “If Coach [Paterno] were going to be around, or if they were going to stay in-house [for a replacement], [Bradley] wouldn’t have been aggressively eyeballing [the Temple opening],” the ex-player, who requested his name not be used, explained.  Additionally, Paterno allegedly struggled mightily at the senior banquet at season’s end, with his players supposedly tweeting about their coach being “out of it” and Paterno referencing playing in a “Thanksgiving bowl game”.

It’s all been woven together into such a convincing and compelling argument that, this time, all of the talk of Paterno’s coaching death may not be exaggerated.

It should be very clearly and very plainly noted, however: we are not reporting that Paterno is stepping down/retiring/resigning after the bowl game.  Rather, we are merely pointing to innuendo that’s beginning to overwhelm the rumor mill and needs to at least be addressed.  In seeking to track down the veracity of these rumors, we reached out to the school for a comment.

“Coach Paterno has already publicly stated his plan to continue coaching and we have no comment on rumor or speculation to the contrary,” PSU Assistant Athletic Director/Communications Jeff Nelson told CFT in an email Wednesday evening. Interestingly, Nelson also pointed us to an Associated Press story in which the writer notes that Paterno was “spry-looking” following practice Wednesday.

In that AP article, Paterno was still talking about next year and still giving no hints that he was doing anything but returning.  Speaking to reporters as the Nittany Lions prepared for the Outback Bowl, Paterno said that the team would be using this game as a springboard for 2011, intimating once again that he would be involved.

“We’ve got a very young team,” Paterno said according to the Associated Press. “We’ve got about 60 kids here that are freshmen and sophomores. Some of them are pretty good athletes that need some work. So I think in that sense you’re hoping that you can get some things developed that are going to carry over to next year. But no matter what, you’ve got to play a team like Florida, you ought to try and win.”

Because of his age and longevity — Lyndon Johnson was sitting in the Oval Office when Paterno took over as Penn State’s head coach — speculation has swirled around an “imminent” departure for more than a decade.  This time around, though, there’s more smoke surrounding his status than there’s ever been, signaling there may be a very real fire burning underneath all of the innuendo.

Only time will tell whether or not this latest round of rumor mongering is yet another false alarm.  Or whether it’s a fully involved five-alarm blaze that won’t be extinguished until after the New Year.

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23 Responses to “Rumors fly that JoePa will retire after bowl game”
  1. jaggedmark says: Dec 23, 2010 9:01 PM

    We know the ex-player is Todd Blackledge.

  2. joerevs300 says: Dec 23, 2010 9:18 PM

    As someone who grew up about an hour away from State College and has been a PSU fan for as long as I can remember, I think the time is right for him to step aside. And here’s why:

    - If he lets the team know before the bowl game, they will give (I think) one of the most inspired performances ever for Penn State. And Paterno can go out in ultimate style, in the arms of his team.
    - Teams in the Big 10 (and indeed, around the country) are now successfully using his age against him in recruiting. This is something that he cannot overcome anymore.
    - Tying into the point above, the quality college football players just are not the same in Western PA as they were, say, 20 years ago. Which means, if you can’t pull in the talent from elsewhere consistently, all the coaching in the world can’t overcome that.
    - With the news today that Ohio State may well lose their MVP (Terrell Pryor) as well as their starting RB to the NFL vs. being suspended for 5 weeks of their senior season, it’s a GREAT time for Penn State to make a splash, bring someone in, and continue their momentum from this season.
    - And finally…let’s just say things haven’t played out very well the past several seasons for the Nittany Lions. 9 wins just isn’t going to cut it in Happy Valley. The time is right for a change.

  3. cubano76 says: Dec 23, 2010 9:46 PM

    If this turns out to be true, it will be one of the most anticipated coaching searches in history.

  4. jaggedmark says: Dec 23, 2010 10:02 PM

    Is it too early to start the Jon Gruden to Penn St rumor?

  5. buckeye044 says: Dec 23, 2010 10:13 PM

    @cubano
    in the history of Pennsylvania sports maybe.

  6. chiefagc5675 says: Dec 23, 2010 10:22 PM

    Jon Gruden? At Penn State? Hell no. When I saw
    that Bradley was interested in the Temple job it did occur to me that Paterno might be going and they weren’t going to fill from within. That’s stupid.
    Paterno had those guys hanging around for 20 years or more in the hope that one of them would follow him. Penn State will not get off with the paltry $500,000 they’ve been paying Paterno. Unless they get someone with a Penn State background the team will go downhill and people will give up on Penn State. 9 wins a year will become the good old days.

  7. aintsfan says: Dec 23, 2010 10:45 PM

    I didn’t know that Joe “Coke Bottles” Paterno was planning on dying after the bowl game. LOL

  8. unsatisfiedmind says: Dec 23, 2010 11:56 PM

    The rumbling I’m hearing from western & central PA is that JoePa is actively lobbying to have Bill Cowher take over next year.

    I think that’s an extremely unlikely dream scenario for Penn State but it sure makes for fun speculation with fans.

  9. 78lion says: Dec 24, 2010 12:51 AM

    Your actually wrote “it needs to be addresses”? How did you address it? Further the rumor mongering? That what journalism is these days? Pathetic!

  10. jeffreyperria says: Dec 24, 2010 1:20 AM

    I think he is just a figure head anyway, he never has a head set on… I am confident that the Ginger dude has been coaching the team for a couple of years now at least. If he retires, it is truly a huge day for the bad.. I am 33 and as long as I can remember he has been the man @psu. I will tell you what, if I see his ass siting next to holtz and his cronies in the studio, I will never watch that 4 letter network again. I am confident that if he is stepping down, then there has to be some legitimate health concerns. Finally, if he does retire, sadly ( I hope not) the final retirement is around the corner, I say that because he lived to coach or be around football, if he does not have that then he will just wither away. I hope he stays around, he is good for college football when mostly nothing but nastiness comes from college football lately. I am not a fan off PSU but I am a fan of Joe Pa. gooooo blue, eat s@$T and die buckeyes

  11. jeffreyperria says: Dec 24, 2010 1:22 AM

    maybe he is retiring due to that stupid “leaders and legends” thing

  12. WingT says: Dec 24, 2010 7:59 AM

    Paterno will be missed in college football. He did it with itegrity for 40+ years – remarkable. His teams were always prepared and played with great intensity and were models of sportmanship.

    I hope it’s not related to health issues. He is a true ambassador of the sport and his opinions and advice are in great need at this time.

    He has always been my second favorite coach of all time.

    roll tide

  13. chauvinistpig says: Dec 24, 2010 8:00 AM

    About 15 years past due

  14. edgy says: Dec 24, 2010 10:39 AM

    jeffreyperria says:

    I think he is just a figure head anyway, he never has a head set on

    ********************

    Your point is? I can’t name a single team that was good that wasn’t the sum total of its coaching staff and a good head coach oversees the program but doesn’t necessarily call all the shots (Hell, what’s the point of having paid assistants, if you’re not going to let them do anything). I’ve always felt that the best thing that a good head coach brings to a team is his assistants because the better they are, the less that they have to cover for each other and the more that they can concentrate on their job and the more that the head coach can concentrate on his.

    If this is true then it’s kind of appropriate. Eddie Robinson retired the year after he won 400 and Paterno won his this year.

  15. jeffreyperria says: Dec 24, 2010 1:16 PM

    @edgy

    you seriously are giving me that lame response in rebuttal to my statements. He lets his assistants coach so he can focus on his job! His job is to coach not stand on the sideline looking like a withered old chia pet. I will present some head coaches and their style that works.

    Jim Tressle hands on approach and coaches during a game and in practice. and a resent national champ
    Urban Meyer… another hands on guy.. gets it done on and off the field. resent national champ.
    Nick Saben…. total control and a resent national champ
    now lets look at Joepa… been coaching the same team for many years… prefers the hands off approach.. last national title 1986. what ever he is doing it is good for the rest of the big ten.
    past his prime 20 years ago

  16. sportflick03 says: Dec 24, 2010 2:08 PM

    @jeffreyperria

    first of all learn how to spell recent- not that hard. Second of all Paterno most certainly put his work in on the practice field and in the film room. His amazing bowl record sure hasn’t dwindled of late. Penn St. is consistently well prepared for games and Paterno has a role in that. A major part of coaching is surrounding yourself with the right people too. He’s done a good job at that.

    As for your hands on coaches… Tressel has done a great job with Prior and those other four idiots. Maybe its time for him to step down because he cant control his players? Tressel is a good recruiter that’s it. Look at how he developed Prior. He didn’t. Ohio St. gives the big ten a bad name consistently with their terrible bowl play. If he’s so hands on shouldn’t they be better prepared? His last national championship was 8 years ago? is that real recent? your comments are absurd.

  17. blitz4848 says: Dec 24, 2010 2:39 PM

    It’s Pryor…….NOT Prior

    That said, just got off the phone with Joe Pa and HE WILL be back for one more season.
    You can BOOK IT!
    Take it to the bank he will be on the sidelines overseeing his final year which will be in 2011………….Go Joe Pa

  18. jeffreyperria says: Dec 24, 2010 3:07 PM

    @ sportflick03,
    How ironic you check me on misspelling one of the most common misspelled words. And you follow it up with misspelling Pryor’s name. That is awesome. I may not have room to talk about bowl records in the last few years because I am a Michigan fan. But u can be the arch duke of impartiality. Now sweater vest has a 5-4 bowl record not that good if you look at in the macro sense. But in the micro sense most have been BCS games. And has a number of big ten championships in a row. What is JoePa’s bowl record…. 24-11-1 which is descent. But how many of those are BCS or national champs games? So out of 44 years at Penn state he has been in only 37 bowls that is 84% of his career in bowls. Look at the other coaches I mentioned earlier look at their bowl attending percentage. Joepa sadly will be in the middle of the pack. Not exactly legendary. The only thing that makes him a legend is the fact that he has been at Penn state for 44 years. And his last big title 2008. Average at best. I would take Mac brown, Meyer, sweater vest, saben, stoops, and several other coaches over him

  19. steelers6pack says: Dec 24, 2010 5:04 PM

    Joe has been having mini strokes is the rumor I heard. Radio stations were making fun of him a week ago when he could not hear announcers from hsi phone. If Joe does go, watch out for Tony Dungy or Peterson from Boise State. Thsi is the most wanted job in college football!! No one has this job in 40 years except for Joe!

  20. edgy says: Dec 24, 2010 11:10 PM

    jeffreyperria says:

    @edgy

    you seriously are giving me that lame response in rebuttal to my statements.

    *********************

    Bull AND Shit.

    Jimmy Johnson won two Super Bowls and you know what, he hardly ever wore a headset. His OC called the offensive plays and the DC, called on the defensive plays and he let them do their jobs.

    Your examples are about as stupid as I’ve ever seen. Seriously, when the game is going, they may have their headsets on to get an idea of what their coaches are thinking and with the exception of Tressel, those coaches aren’t calling plays during the game. They put most of their energy into practice and game planning and let their coordinators do their jobs. For the most part, these guys let their coaches do their jobs and so did guys like Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll, Mack Brown, Tom Osborne and on and on and on. No coach has ever won anything without having a good coaching staff and I guarantee you that if you took all those guys and gave them crappy coaching staffs that they would have never accomplished as much as they did. You show a total ignorance of coaching and the importance of a coaching staff with your comments. The reason why JoePa did so well for all those years is that he always had quality coaches and he let them do their jobs while he took care of the big picture.

  21. tomosbornesretirementcostjoepaatitle says: Dec 25, 2010 10:11 AM

    @jefferyperria

    saban, mack brown, decent not descent, and so on…

    As for your contention that Joe is not legendary please take off your maize blinders. His overall body of work cannot be compared to any other DI coach, as noone has ever done the length he has. But to say the winningest coach in DI history, not to mention the most bowl victories of anybody is not a legendary manis just asinine. We PSU fans carry a great respect for your program regardless of its current state, but it always seems the arrogance on your side of the equation prevents you from doing the same.

    Good luck in the upcoming year, with what RR has done there you need it.

    Oh, and Ann Arbor will always be a whore!

  22. jeffreyperria says: Dec 25, 2010 3:14 PM

    @ tomosbornesretirementcostjoepaatitle:

    I said he is legondary because he has stayed on for so long, Hard to be considered legondary with his body of work facts:
    he has won 401 of 503 games as head coach ~80%
    he has been to 37 bowls in his 44 years ~84%
    he has won 24 of his 37 bowls appearances ~67%
    2 national titles, 29 top ten finishes. etc. I am sure if any other good coach stayed at their schools as long as he has they could put up equal to better stats. I am not saying he is a bad coach he is a darn good one possibly great but I am not going to place the legendary tag on him. And it is not my maze glasses showing either. I dont even think bo was legendary. he was a good coach. Amos Staag, Woody Hayes,Bear Bryant, possibly add Eddie Robinson. those guys are legends. everyone else is a step behind

  23. edgy says: Dec 26, 2010 11:00 AM

    jeffreyperria says:

    @ tomosbornesretirementcostjoepaatitle:

    *********************

    Do you sit around all day and think up stupid crap or what? First all, his winning % if actually 74.8%, which is STILL higher than all the guys that you mentioned, except Bryant. Using your criteria, he’s been to a higher % of bowls than all of them as well and he’s won a higher % as well. That’s makes you 0 for 3 on the legendary meter, just where do you go from here? Oh, BTW, Saban has gone to 14 bowls in 15 years and he’s ONLY 7-6 and Tressel’s bowl record is equally as unimpressive.

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