Tag Archives: Joe Paterno

Revolving doors for head coach and president at Penn State University

Greetings, readers. Lately I have had trouble remembering the name of the head coach of the Pennsylvania State University’s Nittany Lions football team. I also have trouble remembering the name of Penn State’s current president. I know now after during research, but this brings up the changes I’ve seen at Penn State.

It used to be that the university had a president who was in that position for a number of years. Now we have had a few since Graham Spanier left, and I have lost track. For the record, the current president is Eric J. Barron.

I grew up with Joe Paterno as the head coach of the Nittany Lions. I thought he would literally die on the field. I never dreamt the Paterno era would end, certainly not the way it did. After he left, the position turned into a revolving door. First the interim head coach Tom Bradley, then Bill O’Brien for two years, and now James Franklin. It is his first year and we don’t know how Coach Franklin is going to do yet. Time will tell. Many just want JoePa back, and that is impossible. The only way to go is forward. Go Lions!

It is strange to have to look up the names and faces of these folks. If they stay in these jobs for more than two years, I will learn who they are, but that has become a rare thing. Perhaps this is a sign of the times, where college and pro coaches no longer have long tenures. I agree that if a coach loses touch with his players, it is time to go. But for someone to use the position as a stepping stone for a better job, is not what I call cool.

Until Friday, have a good day, take care, and happy reading.

P.S. Stay inside if you are in the torrential rain. I was out in it this morning. Yuck!

: ) #100!!! : )

Greetings, readers. As today’s rather straightforward title implies, this is the 100th blog entry since I began in late December last year. I might not have the tremendous following like writers such as Wil Wheaton, Carrie Vaughn or John Scalzi, but I am only ten months into the blog.

I am most pleased and proud that people have continued to find my writing through search engines on almost every topic I have written about, including the Air Florida crash, the United States Football League, and my father, Professor Joseph John Kockelmans. WordPress has a stats page that I use which shows how many people view each blog post for each day. I especially like the feature that shows how many hits from each country in the world I receive. I have received hits from Russia, Romania, Mexico, Canada, and many other countries, but most of my hits are from the USA.

As most of you know by now, I have tried to stay away from politics or anything controversial. On rare occasions when something has made me good and angry, I will chime out in full force. I was going to write an entry about Romney v. Obama but I think I will wait until after the first couple of debates. Did I mention I loathe talking about politics? I always seem to be wrong.

One of the saddest moments to come along in the Penn State University world in many years was the news about the goings-on of Jerry Sandusky. The trial is over, the football season has begun under Coach Bill O’Brien and the football and academic year is moving forward. Good riddance Mr. Sandusky. I had written a piece titled Tribute to Joseph Vincent Paterno which had to be amended slightly, but I felt to delete it would be inappropriate. The man and his family did so much for this community for so many years.

On the lighter side of my blogging experience were several top ten lists, entries about my cat Keekee, news about my books, as well as a few entries from Rebecca while I was away on holidays or long weekends. {From Rebecca: I have enjoyed doing entries in the blog. Thank you, Joe, for the opportunity to do that.}

Now for ideas yet to come. I’m going to keep all my readers up-to-date on precious kitty-cat, with more pictures of her. Also, I will open up myself more and explore more deeply what makes me tick, and share it with you. This year I felt as though I wanted to be liked. Now it’s time to cut and bleed onto the page and push the envelope, as they say.

With my book signing at Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe this Friday, the work schedule for the week has been altered slightly. Look for another blog entry on Friday, or if not, definitely next Wednesday. Here’s to #101 and beyond.

Have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Was the Freeh report really free?

Greetings, readers. I have been thinking long and hard about whether or not I am going to amend in any way my blog entry titled “Tribute to Joseph Vincent Paterno.” Since this blog entry was posted, much has transpired, such as the guilty verdict of his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, and the Freeh report which implicated Coach Paterno himself.

To my family and me, Joe Paterno, I must admit, was three notches below a deity. Yes, I always knew deep down that he was a man, and fallible as all men are, but I still found it difficult to accept that Coach Paterno might have known about all this and did as little as he did.

The NCAA sanctions, I believe, are a wee bit strong, however justified. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, let me explain. All of the players on all those teams since 1998 whose victories got erased must know deep in their hearts that they were indeed victorious. What is being punished is the institution of Penn State, as well as Coach Paterno and Jerry Sandusky. With that said, here is my personal opinion on the four major points of the NCAA ruling.

Loss of scholarships: Absolutely. To me that is standard for any school who commits major offenses in any capacity, and it will allow PSU the opportunity to put academics and athletics on even ground.

The $60 million fine: I agree with it completely. Yes it is a lot of money, but I am glad it is going to programs for abused children. Most appropriate.

No bowl appearances for four years: I agree in principle but have no clue where they got the number of years they chose.

And finally, the loss of 112 victories: This number, I’ve learned, was determined by the first time that Mr. Sandusky was caught in any wrong doings. Lord only knows if there were more before that. When I first heard this I was outraged, but the more I’ve read and studied, the more I agree with it. As I’ve said before, those kids from the past know they won those games.

Was the Freeh report really free? No. It has come with a humongous price tag. Not only to the creditability and the reputation of this university, but also to the possible and probably crunch on the local economy. Instead of doing their own investigation, the NCAA based their sanctions on this report. And it will cost money to implement the recommendations that Freeh laid out. I have not heard whether or not people have sold back their season tickets or not. As I understand it, the big 10 football network has not dropped their TV coverage. It will take years to know the full extent of the damage. Both Rebecca and I are proud of the new administration of the University for accepting the consequences with such grace.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

Tribute to Joseph Vincent Paterno

Just a quick bio about Coach Paterno before I get into my personal thoughts. Coach Paterno was born on December 21, 1926 and passed away on January 22, 2012. He grew up in the Flatbush section in New York City, according to the February 2012 issue of Town and Gown magazine, and played football at Brown University. He came to the coaching staff of Pennsylvania State University in 1950, under head coach Rip Engle. He married Penn State graduate Suzanne Pohland in 1962.

He was the Winningest Division 1-A Coach of all time, according to the Altoona Mirror.*

Coach Paterno took the reins as head coach for the start of the 1966 season and went to his first bowl game one year later; a 17-17 tie with Florida State in the Gator Bowl.** Coach Joe Paterno had three opportunities to be a head coach in the NFL. First, in 1969 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, then in 1970 with the Green Bay Packers, and finally in 1972 with the New England Patriots. He turned down all offers.** Coach Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lion football team moved to the Big Ten Conference in 1993.

Coach Joe Paterno was the only coach at Penn State that I’ve ever known. His integrity and generosity are well documented. He gave back millions to the university and coached and mentored many football players, making certain that they were quality, well-rounded human beings.

I remember one year not too long ago, when one of the football players got into some legal trouble. When no one came forward as to whom the guilty party was, Coach Paterno insisted that the entire team clean the stadium for as many Sunday mornings as it took until someone fessed up. Coach Paterno believed that unity was the strength of a football team. I heard it once said that he liked to think of his team as a single entity rather than a group of individual players. I believe that is why no names were ever on the uniforms, nor was there ever any fancy logo on the helmets.

Many times as I would sit and watch the football games over the years, I would watch JoePa, as he was affectionately known, yell and scream at the officials. No, he was not a cranky old man; he was simply standing up for the players in whom he believed.

The popularity of Coach Paterno and his football team grew by leaps and bounds over the years, so much so that Beaver Stadium was expanded to accommodate over 110,000 people. I am old enough to remember when the two nose-bleed sections did not exist. In 1993, we joined the Big Ten Conference, ending our days as a major independent. Now we would have such teams to battle as Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa. When I was growing up, one point against Penn State was that we didn’t play very tough competition. That changed when we got to the Big Ten. Coach Paterno and the team rose to the occasion and in the 1994 season went to the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten’s top bowl game, and beat Oregon 38-20.

I only had the rare opportunity to speak to Coach Paterno once. I was driving home one day and saw JoePa taking a stroll through my neighborhood. He liked to walk and never seemed afraid that people would swarm around him begging for autographs. I stopped my car and put the window down and said, “Hiya, Coach.” He waved back and I remember asking him how the team was going to be this year. I remember him giving me some reply such as, “We are a young football team this year, but I think we’re going to be pretty good.” Not wanting to press my luck, I waved and drove on. That encounter gave me the impression that Coach Paterno was much more accessible to people than others as famous as he was might be.

I only attended two Penn State games in my lifetime. The first one was in the late 70s, versus Pittsburgh. I remember it being so cold that even though I wore three pairs of socks with boots, my feet were still cold. The other game was many years later, versus Nebraska. The Cornhuskers came in ready to kick our butts. Boy did we hand them a surprise. My friend and I had second-row end-zone seats for that game and at the end of the game the Nebraska players walked off the field towards us. They all looked like a bus had hit them. Oh, yes, JoePa got them ready for that game.

Somehow, I thought Coach Paterno would literally die on the field, but in late 2011 the Penn State scandal of one of his former defensive coaches caused JoePa to be fired mid-season. For two nights, downtown State College was in rebellion; more or less non-destructive. People stood in the streets and stopped traffic, chanting Joe Pa-ter-no for literally an hour. I was unaware that one block down a news truck had been overturned.

The offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, Bill O’Brien, will take over for interim coach Tom Bradley to start the 2012 season. I can hear all the TV announcers in my head already. “Penn State now begins the post Joe Paterno era.” I suppose with good reason, for he was the head coach for well over 40 years. It truly will be a changing of the guard. I wish our new coach all the best and I shall continue to support the team. Though I must admit, when news of the scandal first hit, I contemplated being a fan of the Pittsburgh Panthers, since I was born in Pittsburgh.

Time will tell if, as the expression goes, time heals all wounds. Until very soon, take care and happy reading.

* I got some information from the Altoona Mirror in the article by Neil Rudel on January 23, 2012, and from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the article by Ron Musselman on January 23, 2012.

**Bowl game information was from the USA Today magazine Paterno: The Man, the Era, and the Team.

Good news about Keekee and other stuff

Greetings everyone. So sorry I’ve not blogged in a few days but I’ve just now recovered from the weekend, though it was fun.

I got some very good news about my kitty cat Keekee. Very soon she will have to go in for some dental work which shall be quite expensive, but the vet’s office has agreed to a payment plan rather than one lump sum. My budget says thank you.

Keekee is doing very well, despite having bad gums and needing six teeth removed. My vet told me that it happens to this particular breed of cat. Other than that, she is a quite healthy 5-year-old. I hope to very soon put a picture of her up on my blog for all of you to see. I have to learn how to do this first, however.

When my friend was here this weekend, I believe that Keekee smelled his cat, because she hissed at him a number of times. It was either that or he made a sudden move which she did not like; she hates sudden movements.

Briefly onto something else, I have another dentist appointment for myself today and I don’t wish to go. Though I like my dentist very much, I hate all the instruments wedged in my mouth – such as the saliva sucker. I suppose it’s better than drooling on myself.

Last week I mentioned writing about the late Joe Paterno. I did not forget. I shall attempt to do it tomorrow. I think I would like to jot down some notes first.

Lastly today, I must rant and rave for a few moments about my 12 round fight with technology. I won … but not until the twelfth round. Sometimes I hate computers. Machines are supposed to assist man, not defeat him. Not to go into too much detail, but let’s just say this blog post should have been up an hour ago. Until next time readers, take care and have a good day.

Getting ready for the weekend

Hi Folks. As I get ready for company coming in for the weekend, my attention will be on them and not on my writing. I do have some good ideas, so that when I return on Tuesday or Wednesday, blog posts will return with a vengeance.

From what I understand, the weather here in central Pennsylvania is not going to cooperate with any outdoor activities. But there will be plenty of food, beverages, tv shows, and PS3 games to keep us occupied. While I will be losing a couple of days of my normal writing routine, I think the break shall do me good.

The former head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno, passed away this past Sunday. I have some feelings I’d like to share and will probably do so the first blog entry of next week.

I’m working on four hours of sleep today, because I just couldn’t turn off the brain last night. With my friends coming in I have a multitude of things to do to get ready. As I am prone to sleeplessness, thinking about things in the late evening is always a hazard. At 3am, I turned on Netflix and watched Cleopatra for a while. Wasn’t Liz Taylor beautiful back then? Then it was on to Madden 12 football. I lost.

I wish all of you a good weekend. Please feel free to leave comments and I shall respond to them. Until next week …