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College football reacts to the passing of Joe Paterno

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As expected, the reaction to the passing of Joe Paterno has been swift, expansive and, in some cases, very emotional and heartfelt.

From all across the vast expanses of the college football world, tributes from Paterno’s contemporaries to those who grew up idolizing the coach have poured in, with some of the heaviest hitters in the game offering ofttimes poignant remembrances of the man who was considered a living legend in the game.

Here are but a few of the numerous statements — pay particular attention to the one released by the Ol’ Ball Coach; it’s pretty damn cool — that have been released since Paterno’s death Sunday morning.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Joe Paterno. His passing marks a tremendous loss for Penn State, college football and for countless fans, coaches and student-athletes.  Our condolences go out to the Paterno family and to the entire Penn State community.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, from an appearance on ESPN
“It’s just too bad for everyone that someone who had done so much for college football, his legacy would really end. Maybe the message that everyone out there could learn from this is that assistant coaches, players, everybody involved in programs have a responsibility and obligation to do the right things for the institutions, because people remember Joe Paterno as part of this more than they do anyone else.

“That may be the shame of it all. Maybe he made a mistake in how he managed it, but really wasn’t the guy who did the wrongdoing. But all of us need to understand that whatever profession we’re in, sometimes the people in charge can really suffer just as much as the people who made the wrong choices and decisions.”

Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne
“I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno’s passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best.”

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
“I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Coach Joe Paterno. He was a man who I have deep respect for as a human being, as a husband and father, as a leader and as a football coach. I was very fortunate to have been able to develop a personal relationship with him, especially over the course of the last several years, and it is something that I will always cherish.

“My prayers and thoughts go out to his wife, Sue, and to their family, and also to the family he had at Penn State University. We have lost a remarkable person and someone who affected the lives of so many people in so many positive ways. His presence will be dearly missed. His legacy as a coach, as a winner and as a champion will carry on forever.”

Texas head coach Mack Brown
“I’ve known Coach Paterno since I started coaching. Sally and I built a great relationship with him and Sue over the last 10 to 15 years, and we shared many great times. I know our lives are better because we had the opportunity to spend time with them. He was a gift to us, and when we heard the sad news today, we both openly wept, not only because college football lost a great man, but we lost a great friend.

“I appreciate all of the advice, the attention and the time he’s given us over the years. We will miss him dearly and will always cherish the wonderful memories. College football will be left with a major void because he has done so much for our game and for Penn State. It’s a very sad day, and with his passing, we have lost one of the greatest coaches our game, and all sports, will ever have. He leaves us with great stories, memories and records that may never be broken. There will never be another Joe Paterno. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and the family.”

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald
“The legacy of Joe Paterno will be long lasting — not only as a football coach and mentor, but as a family man. For 62 years, Coach Paterno poured his heart and soul into a football program and university, helping countless young men reach their dreams and goals on the football field before moving on to successful careers and lives as adults. It’s hard to fathom the impact that Coach Paterno has had on college football and at Penn State. His insight and wisdom will be missed. We at Northwestern send our condolences to Sue and the Paterno family.”

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Joe Paterno. I’ve coached around 300 college games and only once when I’ve met the other coach at midfield prior to the game have I asked a photographer to take a picture of me with the other coach. That happened in the Citrus Bowl after the ’97 season when we were playing Penn State. I had one of our university photographers take the picture with me and Coach Paterno, and I still have that photo in the den at my house. That’s the admiration I have for Joe Paterno. It was sad how it ended, but he was a great person and coach.”

Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden
“You can’t ignore the great years he had at Penn State and the great things he did for Penn State. That university is known for Joe Paterno and Sue. It’s just a great tragedy.”

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer
“We have lost someone with great and special talents. He had great and special talent as far as being a leader, which is very obvious by his winning record. And, he had a great and special talent in how he treated people. In my experience with him, he was always charming, gracious and thoughtful. I think he was a great fighter, and I know he fought this illness to the very end. College football will miss Joe Paterno.”

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke
“I am certainly saddened by the news today of Coach Paterno’s passing. College football has lost one of its greatest, a coaching icon. Even though I was just an assistant when our teams faced one another, I feel honored to have shared the field with Joe. His players’ love for him, it shows how he touched their lives and it tells who he was as a man. He will be missed. His mark on Penn State and college football will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joe’s family and friends and the entire Penn State community.”

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez
“Today is a sad day. Joe made a difference. He impacted a lot of people. He made a difference in a community, in a college and in college football. He was truly special and an icon. For someone to continue to do what he did through different generations and for such a long period of time and be effective was amazing. I’ve considered Joe a friend and a mentor. This is sad day for college football and the Penn State community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and the Paterno family.”

Wisconsin head Bret Bielema
“Coach Paterno obviously did so many wonderful things for a number of years, not only with the success of his teams on the field but the number of lives he shaped. I hope people remember his lifetime achievements. From day one, when I joined the head coaching ranks and was fortunate enough to cross paths with him at coaches meetings and various functions, he was always very engaging and complimentary of the way we did things at Wisconsin and how we played. I enjoyed competing with him at every level. Our Badger football family sends our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Penn State community and the Paterno family.”

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio
“On behalf of my immediate family and the Michigan State football family, we express our deepest sympathy to Joe Paterno’s wife Sue, his five children and 17 grandchildren, as well as his extended family, the Penn State football family and the entire State College community.

“Joe dedicated his life to Penn State and college football. He had unparalleled success during his 46 seasons as the head coach at Penn State. Joe was a major player who helped revolutionize the game of college football. In his six-plus decades at Penn State, he influenced and impacted countless numbers of players and people at a championship level.

“Over the past five years, my wife and I have had the privilege of spending time with both Joe and his wife Sue. We appreciated and enjoyed the time spent at our various functions together and will forever remember him as a steward of our profession.”

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville

“When you think of college football and its tradition, you can’t help but picture those dark glasses, black shoes and plain uniforms that were his style and mark on Penn State University.

“I have had the great fortune to coach against Coach Paterno four times during my career and each time I came away from those contests with a greater understanding of the game of football.  A true highlight of my career, has been a 30-year relationship with Coach and his wife Sue.

“Like many coaches, I grew up watching and learning from one of the greatest tutors and mentors of the game.  I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing and wish to extend my condolences to Sue and the rest of the Paterno family.”

Former West Virginia head coach Don Nehlen
“First of all, my condolences go out to his wife, Sue, and his entire family. Joe Paterno was an icon above icons in the football coaching profession. What he accomplished as a football coach will never ever, ever, be threatened. When you think of a word to describe Joe Paterno and what he did at Penn State, the word unimaginable comes to mind. That a man could give that much of himself to coach football and shape young men’s lives at one school for that many years speaks volumes for what that man is about. He will be very sadly missed as a person, a friend and in the football coaching profession.”

Cal head coach Jeff Tedford
“With the passing of Joe Paterno today, we have not only lost a legendary football coach but a great person who had a tremendous effect on the lives of many people over a long period of time. I’ve always looked up to him and have a great deal of respect for what he accomplished. He also made me feel comfortable coming up through the ranks as a young coach, and I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with him throughout the years. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sue, and the rest of his family. Today, the football community has a heavy heart, and his legacy will be in our minds forever.”

Temple head coach Steve Addazio
“I am very sad to hear the news of Joe Paterno’s passing. He was someone that I had a great deal of respect for, both growing up as a young man and as a football coach. He did so much for college football, athletics as a whole, and education.  The positive influence he had over so many people and what he’s done for collegiate football and athletics will never be duplicated. He will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Paterno family and the Penn State community.”

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini
“My condolences go out to Coach Paterno’s family and the Penn State community. I have so much respect for what Coach Paterno accomplished at Penn State both on and off the field. He wasn’t just a legendary coach, but a class individual and his record speaks for itself. I had the honor of getting a few chances to spend time with him since we joined the Big Ten, and those were special opportunities for me as a relatively young head coach in this profession.”

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano
“Joe Paterno embodied the way college football was supposed to be. He educated young men by using the game of football, along with all of its challenges, in preparation for the real world. He was a great thinker, who was never afraid to say and act on what he believed. He leaves a tremendous legacy with the thousands of players and coaches he worked with. I will miss him deeply. My prayers are with Sue and the entire Paterno family.”

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.