Basketball Magazine

Joe Paterno Passes at 85: Thoughts From a Penn State Student

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

Joe Paterno Passes at 85: Thoughts From a Penn State Student

Photo: Getty Images 

- Troy Ballard

Following a brief fight with lung cancer, legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has died at age 85.
Paterno was so much more than just a football coach, and he was the very essence of what Penn State stood for as an academic institution and community. He was the type of person that is entirely unique, selfless, and dedicated to helping others over himself. The list of charitable accolades that fall under JoePa's name are seemingly endless, and to not mention the 1,000's of football players he guided and supported would be leaving out his greatest contribution as a coach.
As a student, it is almost impossible to accept that Paterno is no longer with us. Not only was JoePa an idol for all of Penn State, but he was also the most definable and identifiable icon in PSU history. The support he provided was the backbone for all of Penn State's athletic endeavors, and supported the school with nothing but pure devotion.
Paterno's devotion translated directly to success on the football field, as the current students and alumni were both able to enjoy consistent victories for over 40-years. JoePa was able to cultivate and grow a down program into one of the best in college football, and created an atmosphere at State College unrivaled by any other school in the country.
No matter where Paterno was, on the field or off, he produced a sense of professionalism and passion. Whether it be accepting an award on PSU's behalf, or coaching against a rival like Ohio State, Paterno defined what it meant to be a Penn Stater.
JoePa's efforts in raising money for the university, most notably THON, have been unmatched. His donations have brought many amazing changes and transitions to Penn State, and Paterno will forever be known as one of the largest advocate of forward progress at PSU.
Earlier this year, in the wake of a scandal involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, Paterno was forced out of his role as the head coach of PSU's football program. Paterno's legendary coaching career was tainted in one of the most shocking scandals in college football history.
However, at Penn State, Paterno's immaculate reputation was not damaged the way it was outside the university. Students, faculty, and alumni still supported Paterno in the utmost regard, regardless of what outside media outlets claimed. Paterno was still the man that was adamantly supported for over 40-years.
Summing up what Paterno meant to me personally is almost impossible. As a journalist, I respect Paterno for what he accomplished in his career as a football coach. As a Penn State student, I am forever indebted to Paterno in what he did for my university. As a person, I admire Paterno as an incredibly selfless individual.
There really are no words on paper that can describe what Paterno means to a Penn State student. He is more than words. He is more than a scandal. He is more than a football coach. He is more than Penn State.
Paterno is Paterno, and he will be forever remembered.
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