Joe Paterno: 1926-2012

122 Comments

Sadly, the grim reports that dominated the college football news cycle beginning Saturday evening were a precursor to the inevitable but still numbing reality: a coaching legend has passed.

A family spokesperson confirmed to the Associated Press that Joseph Vincent Paterno has died at a State College hospital at the age of 85, just over two months after being diagnosed with a form of lung cancer.  A posting to Penn State’s official Facebook page read simply: “With great sadness we mourn the passing of Coach Joe Paterno…Few have done more.”

Paterno passed away at 9:25 a.m. ET Sunday, and the official cause of death was metastic small cell carcinoma of the lung.

The legendary former Penn State head coach was surrounded by family and friends, who had been summoned to the on-campus hospital when Paterno’s health took a turn for the worse recently.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today,” a statement from the family read. “His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled. He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.”

A statement attributed to university president Rodney Erickson and the Board of Trustees was released shortly after Paterno’s death.

“We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always.

“The University plans to honor him for his many contributions and to remember his remarkable life and legacy. We are all deeply saddened.”

Paterno was born Dec. 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, NY, and, after his playing days at Brown University were complete, was hired as an assistant at Penn State in 1950.  Shortly after the 1965 season had ended, Paterno was named head coach of the Nittany Lions; for the next 46 years, Paterno lorded over Happy Valley as the face of both a football program and a university.

During his nearly five decades as head coach, Paterno accumulated 409 wins, the most in Div. I history; a record 37 appearances in bowl games; and two national championships.  As great of a coach as he was on the field, he was widely hailed as, at least until the events that have transpired since last November, an even greater man off of it, donating millions back to his beloved university and shaping the lives of untold numbers of players, coaches and other football support staff.

The legacy he had built in more than a half a century at the school, however, was threatened — or erased in the minds of some — by the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the football program specifically and the university in general.  Mere days after his former assistant was indicted on more than 50 charges relating to the sexual molestation of underage boys, Paterno was fired by the school’s board of trustees, which declared in a statement that their “unanimous judgment was that Coach Paterno could not be expected to continue to effectively perform his duties and that it was in the best interests of the University to make an immediate change in his status.”

Nine weeks after his final game Nov. 5 — eerily and vaguely similar time-wise to the passing of Bear Bryant after he had coached his last game at Alabama — Coach Paterno is gone.

Our condolences go out to his family, friends and every single person touched by a helluva coach and a great-but-fallible human being who will ultimately be defined by the totality of his life, both the good and the bad.

RIP Coach Paterno.

(Photo credit: NBCSports.com)

2020 Arkansas signee Catrell Wallace arrested for alleged sexual assault of a 12-year-old

Arkansas football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

One member of the Arkansas football Class of 2020 has more to worry about than the start of his collegiate playing career.

According to the Saline County (Ark.) Sheriff’s Office, Catrell Wallace was arrested Monday morning on one count each of second-degree sexual assault and tampering.  Both of those charges are felonies.  The Arkansas football signee had turned himself in after a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

The alleged assault took place on New Year’s Day this year.  Wallace was 18 at the time.  The alleged victim was 12.

“Although it appears to have been a consensual encounter, BNPD detectives were able to determine that Wallace had reason to believe the victim was underage at the time of the crime,” a portion of a statement from the Benton (Ark.) Police Department read. “It was also noted that Wallace instructed witnesses to lie about the crime in an effort to conceal it.”

Sam Pittman, the first-year Arkansas football head coach, said in a statement that his program is aware of the off-field situation.

“We are aware of the serious allegations involving Catrell Wallace,” said Pittman. “We are gathering information and [are] in contact with the proper authorities regarding the situation.  Once we have additional information, we will make a determination on his status with our program.”

Wallace was a three-star 2020 prospect who signed with Arkansas football this past December.  The linebacker was the No. 6 recruit regardless of position in the state of Arkansas.  Only one linebacker in the Razorbacks’ class was rated higher than Wallace.

Coronavirus concerns cause Michigan to cancel spring football trip abroad

Michigan football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The pause button has been hit on the recent Michigan football tradition stared under Jim Harbaugh.

In 2017, Harbaugh and the Wolverines traveled to Italy as part of its spring football practice.  The following year, the program went to France.  This past year, it was South Africa that was the program’s spring destination.

This year, Michigan football had been expected to take another trip abroad.  That destination had yet to be determined.  As it turns out, a determination won’t be necessary as, due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak, U-M has decided to nix its 2020 plans for the team to travel abroad.

“The football team will not be taking an international trip this spring due to the health concerns around the world, most notably coronavirus,” a Michigan football spokesperson stated. “In lieu of traveling abroad, as the team has done the last three years, the players are expected to participate in community projects in the Ann Arbor area,” the Detroit Free Press wrote.

And for those unfamiliar with the coronavirus?  From NBC News:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there have been two cases of person-to-person transmission in the U.S., and that the virus can be spread via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The CDC says on its website that the virus is not currently spreading in the U.S.

The majority of deaths linked to COVID-19 have been in mainland China, where the outbreak began. There have been 12 deaths in Iran, eight in South Korea, seven in Italy, and others elsewhere, according to public health officials.

In mainland China, the national health commission on Tuesday morning local time reported a total of 2,663 deaths linked to COVID-19.

The epicenter of the outbreak has been in Hubei Province, where the city of Wuhan is located. There have been more than 77,600 confirmed cases in mainland China, according to the national health commission.

Indiana suspends TE Peyton Hendershot following domestic violence incident

Indiana Hoosiers football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

When it came to a member of the Indiana Hoosiers football program, this was an expected next step.

Late Saturday night, Peyton Hendershot was arrested on multiple charges in connection to an alleged domestic violence incident.  The tight end is facing one count each of residential entry, domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion.  The residential entry charge is a felony; the other three are misdemeanors.

Sunday, the Indiana Hoosiers football program issued the following statement:

Indiana University Athletics is aware of the arrest of redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot. IU Athletics will continue to gather facts, cooperate with and monitor the legal and administrative processes, and take further action as the evolving situation warrants.

A day later, the Indiana Hoosiers football program issued an updated statement in which it was confirmed that Hendershot has been indefinitely suspended.

Indiana University Head Football Coach Tom Allen has suspended redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot immediately and indefinitely from all team activities. He will continue to evaluate the situation pending further developments.

It should be noted that Hendershot was expected to miss spring practice because of injury issues prior to his off-field situation.

Hendershot was a three-star member of the Class of 2017 for Indiana Hoosiers football.  An injury his true freshman season allowed the Indiana native to take a redshirt.  In 2018, Hendershot started 10 games, catching 15 passes for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This past season, Hendershot set a school record for tight ends by catching 52 passes for 622 yards.  After starting all 13 games, Hendershot was named third-team All-Big Ten.

Ohio State, Ryan Day agree to three-year contract extension

Ohio State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not surprisingly, it will continue to pay to be the Ohio State football head coach.

Tuesday morning, OSU announced it has agreed to a three-year extension for Ryan Day.  The coach is now signed through the 2026 season.

It should be noted that the agreement is pending approval by the Ohio State University Board of Trustees.

According to the school, Day will make $5.375 million from Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, OSU will make an employer contribution of $1 million to his retirement continuation plan on Dec. 31, 2020.  Day will then make $6.5 million in 2021 and $7.6 million in 2022.

“Increases to his compensation package after Feb. 1, 2023 will be determined by the director of athletics and approved by the Board of Trustees,” the school wrote.

In 2019, Day’s $4.5 million in guaranteed compensation was seventh in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally.

“Ryan Day’s management of this football program, from mentoring and leading our student-athletes in their academic pursuits and off-field endeavors to coaching them on the playing field, has been exceptional,” Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director Gene Smith said. “I am appreciative of his work. And I want to thank President Michael V. Drake for his leadership and the Board of Trustees for its work with this extension.”

In his first full season as the Ohio State football head coach, Day guided the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record.  After winning the Big Ten title, Day became the first OSU coach in four decades to be named as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.  Ohio State football also returned to the playoffs for the third time in six seasons.

Day is actually 16-1 as a head coach.  With Urban Meyer suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, the Buckeyes went 3-0 with Day as the acting head coach.