Paterno must be enjoying last laugh

Published 12:43 pm Monday, January 2, 2006

By Staff
A year after he was dismissed as passe, an old man eclipsed by a young man's game, Joe Paterno, 79, is back in fashion and where he belongs - atop college football.
His third-ranked 10-1 Nittany Lions play in the Orange Bowl Tuesday night against another senior citizen who can relate, Florida State's Bobby Bowden, 76.
Bowden leads major college coaches with 359 career wins, with Paterno ranked second with 353.
Penn State under Paterno notched only one losing season in 34 years, then endured back-to-back losing campaigns in 2000 and 2001.
Last year's 4-7, the fourth losing season in five years, elevated the clamor among alumni calling for his resignation.
His four-year contract extension prior to the 2004 season prompted accusations that Paterno was selfishly gratifying his own ego at Penn State's expense.
Paterno's Nittany Lions still wear plain jerseys from another era.
During his long tenure someone figured out that other Division I-A schools have made 773 coaching changes.
Paterno won national titles in 1982 and 1986 and led unbeaten teams in 1968, 1969, 1973 and 1994.
His squads won in double digits in 19 campaigns and finished in the Top 10 21 times. Paterno coached 71 first-team All-Americans and saw 29 players taken first round in the NFL draft.
His players graduate at better than the national average.
Typical is Paul Posluszny, this year's Butkus Award winner.
Posluszny became the seventh Penn State player to earn All-American in the classroom as well as on the field.
Paterno and his wife Sue have given more than $4 million to Penn State. How many big-time football coaches can say that the building their name graces is the library?
JoePa's always been a class act, so it's heartening to see him back in style and having the last laugh.