As family, friends, former players and myriad others prepare for the first public viewing of Joe Paterno Tuesday following his death Sunday, one of the former Penn State head coach’s son has given a glimpse into the final hours and minutes of the legend’s life.
Speaking to the Associated Press Monday, Scott Paterno painted a picture of an 85-year-old man “at peace” in his final days on earth, battling to the end surrounded by family and friends at the Mount Nittany Medical Center. Paterno had been hospitalized since Jan. 13 due to complications from chemotherapy used to battle the lung cancer that ultimately claimed his life.
“He wanted his family in his room. He wanted to be around people. He wanted to talk,” the son said. “He wanted to have people, even when he had trouble speaking, he wanted people around him talking. How are your kids? It was so natural. It was like we were having dinner around the kitchen table. It just happened to be his hospital bed. …
“Even at the end when it was clear that he passed a line of no return, it was never a moment of bitterness. It was never a moment of fear. He was serenely calm, even right up to the end.”
As head coach since the mid-60s, Paterno had been the face of both a football program and a university. Paterno relayed a story illustrating his father was a Penn Stater right up until his final breath had taken.
There were no balloons or flowers in Paterno’s room. His son suspects his mother sent them to other patients in the hospital.
But there was a Penn State sweat shirt in there.
“His life is Penn State through and through,” Scott Paterno said, speaking of his father in the present tense. “He understood that and it never once occurred to him to be bitter toward Penn State.”
Raided by the ACC, UNLV has officially turned its eyes to the Ivy League for its coaching replacement.
Travis Burkett, the football program has announced, has been hired the Rebels’ running backs coach. Burkett will replace DeAndre Smith, who left last week for a job at North Carolina.
Smith had been with Tony Sanchez‘s program for just three months or so, coming to Las Vegas by way of Purdue.
The past 10 seasons, Burkett served as an assistant at Cornell. Prior to that, he was a graduate assistant at Bucknell.
This will be Burkett’s first job at any capacity at the FBS level. His new employer added the following in announcing his addition:
At UNLV, Burkett inherits a rushing attack that stood 15th in the nation last fall with 241.5 yards per game, which ranked fourth in program history and was the most since 1979. All three of the team’s top rushers return in 2017.
With an assistant fighting a significant health issue, Derek Mason has turned to someone very familiar with the Vanderbilt football program to fill the coaching void.
Vandy confirmed Monday that Warren Belin has been hired as the Commodores’ outside linebackers coach. Belin will, at least temporarily, replace Osia Lewis, who stepped down from his job as he battles liver cancer. Lewis will transition into an of-field role within the program as he fights the disease.
The announcement came on the same day Vandy kicked off spring practice.
From 2002 through 2009, Belin was Vandy’s linebacker’s coach under Bobby Johnson. He was at Wake Forest in the same role from 2013-15.
Last season, he was with the Demon Deacons in an off-field role as director of high school relations.
In opting to leave Miami in late January, Gus Edwards was restricted by the university from transferring to two of his top choices in Pittsburgh and Syracuse as they were on this coming season’s schedule. A little over a month later, the Staten Island native, who wanted to transfer and move closer to home as he was a new father, has found his new college football home in the same area of the country.
On its official Twitter account earlier Monday, Rutgers announced that Edwards has transferred into the Scarlet Knights football program. As Edwards will be coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017.
The upcoming season will be the running back’s final year of eligibility.
Edwards was third on the team this past season in rushing with 290 yards. For his Hurricanes career, the 6-1, 230-pound back ran for 977 yards and 12 touchdowns on 186 carries.
A foot injury suffered in summer camp cost Edwards the entire 2015 season. He received a medical redshirt for that season.
With its Egg Bowl rivals knee/neck-deep in controversy — and with said rival reportedly trying to bring it down as well at one point — Mississippi State has taken the time to put a positive face on the current state of its football program.
The Bulldogs announced Monday night that they have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with head football coach Dan Mullen. The new deal means Mullen is signed through February of 2021.
According to the school, Mullen’s financial package will be $4.5 million for 2017. Mullen was paid $4.2 million in 2016, a figure that was seventh in the SEC according to USA Today‘s salary database.
“I am very thankful to the University and athletic administration for their belief in me,” Mullen, the subject of myriad coaching carousel rumors the last handful of years, said in a statement. “We have built a special program over the last eight years, creating a culture where winning is expected while achieving that in the toughest division in college football. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I am truly excited about the direction we are heading as a program. This extension allows my family a long-term future here in Starkville, a place we are proud to call home.”
Since taking over as MSU’s coach in 2009, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a 61-42 record overall and 29-35 in conference play. In those eight seasons, the best divisional finish was second in 2014. In the other seven seasons, they were either fifth (five times) or fourth (twice) in the SEC West.
The Bulldogs have gone to a bowl game each of the past seven seasons, the longest such streak in school history. They’re also 5-3 against Ole Miss under Mullen.
“Dan has brought unprecedented success to Bulldog football and is one of the elite coaches in the country,” athletic director John Cohen said. “From a school-record seven straight bowl games to our performance in the classroom, he continues to raise the standard of excellence.”