Say what you will about the legacy of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, but there is no debate when it comes to suggesting it is complicated. Three years removed now from the sequence of events that saw Paterno celebrated as college football’s all-time leader in major college football victories to being removed from the same position before coaching another game at a time when a program, university and community were turned upside down, many are still searching for answers.
Few from the world of college football knew Paterno the way his son, Jay Paterno did. The two may not have always met eye to eye (the elder Paterno once was a speaker for the 1988 Republican National Convention, the younger a vocal supporter for Barack Obama years later). Jay was both a son and assistant coach to the man he still refers to on a first-name basis, Joe.
In the new book, Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father, Jay Paterno recalls stories and memories from his past involving his father, both as a father figure and as a head coach. Many stories may sound familiar to long time Penn State fans, but there is always something new to be learned. To gain that perspective from inside the family offers a new look at the life of Paterno, for better or worse. Each chapter is broken into small chunks, telling short anecdotes rather than full chapters, including a day-by-day summary and recalling of the days of November, 2011, when everything was turned upside down.
Jay Paterno set aside some time to talk about the book, share anything he learned while writing the book, and why he felt it was important to share his personal story now. We also discuss what is next for Paterno and whether or not a possible return to coaching could come along at some point in time. I intentionally attempted to steer clear of ongoing legal battles and situations that continue to be ongoing connected with Penn State University, former administrators and officials at the university, the NCAA, Paterno and more, although those cases are referenced by Paterno at one point. We also touch briefly on the current state of the Penn State football program and Big Ten expansion and the outlook for the 2014 season, although briefly at the end.
You can listen to the full conversation below.
Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father is available on Amazon in hardcover as well as for the Kindle or Kindle app.