On the same day Joe Paterno announced he would be retiring at the end of the regular season, the Penn State Board of Trustees showed that had other plans in mind. The Board of Trustees announced Wednesday night that Paterno was removed as head coach of the football program, effective immediately.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, starting with this weekend’s game against Nebraska in Big Ten conference play. Bradley has been on Penn State’s coaching staff for the past 33 seasons (including this season) and has been in charge of one of the top defenses in college football. He had previously been turned down for multiple head coaching positions in recent years, including at Pittsburgh, and many always felt he would be a head coach some day. At least for three games he will have that opportunity to lead the team.
Paterno’s career ends amid a cloud of controversy surrounding the football program and the university. The past few days have seen explosive media coverage of a sexual abuse scandal involving former Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky. The investigation by the state attorney general has resulted in 40 charges of sexual abuse of a minor to Sandusky, with acts taking place on the campus of Penn State. Paterno has been tied to one of the instances of abuse, which has helped spur unprecedented media coverage on the situation. The entire investigation has seen athletics director Tim Curley charged with perjury as well. No charges have been filed against Paterno, and the attorney general said earlier this week that he is not currently a target of the investigation. But his involvement in this entire still has stung on many levels.
Paterno’s career ends with a final record of 409-136-3, second most all time in college football wins and first in division one history. Paterno passed Eddie Robinson on the division one all-time wins list two weeks ago as Penn State defeated Illinois in a key Big Ten Leaders Division game. Paterno owns the record for most bowl victories, 24, which is more than all other college football teams except for Alabama (32) and USC (31). Penn State’s only two national championships were won in 1982 and 1986, although Paterno had a number of undefeated teams finish their season without a championship, most recently in 1994. The Nittany Lions claimed three Big Ten titles under Paterno after joining the conference in 1993. With two more wins this year’s team will play for another Big Ten title in the conference’s first Big Ten championship game. Ironically, the Big Ten championship trophy is named in part in honor of Paterno.
Paterno was a five time AFCA Coach of the Year and a three-time Walter Camp Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. Paterno also received a number of other coaching awards throughout his career and he was inducted in to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Paterno’s career at Penn State got started in 1950, when he followed his college football coach at Brown, Rip Engle, as an assistant coach. After 16 years as an assistant for his mentor, Paterno took over the head coaching position at Penn State and although others pursued him at times, he remained there through week ten of the 2011 college football season.
Penn State’s Board of Trustees also accepted a letter of resignation from President Graham Spanier. “The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees and Graham Spanier have decided that, effective immediately, Dr. Spanier is no longer president of the University,” a release said. “Additionally, the board determined that it is in the best interest of the University for Joe Paterno to no longer serve as head football coach, effective immediately.” Dr. Rodney A. Erickson, executive vice president and provost, has been named acting president.
Kevin is a national college football writer for lodeplus.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be reached at email@example.com.