Joe Paterno was always the winningest coach in the history of major college football with 409 wins. Now, it's official once again.
That number represents the record for the most wins by a coach in major college football history and that record once again belongs to Joe Paterno. The only problem is that it never should have been taken away from him in the first place.
The NCAA announced last week that it reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord. The settlement replaces the sanctions placed on Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The NCAA had already eased the restrictions on football scholarships and the bowl ban, but now they have finally given back something that was never theirs to take.
The NCAA vacated 112 wins that Joe Paterno and his players earned from 1998 through 2011, even though the football program never broke a single NCAA regulation. Now that those wins have been restored, perhaps it's time that the University finally honors the greatest coach in the history of college football.
Let me just say that although I am a Penn State grad (Class of 1990), I was very critical of Paterno's handling of Sandusky. While Paterno did nothing wrong, a fact many people seem to forget, he didn't do nearly enough. Paterno even admitted that he should have done more. Unfortunately, he didn't and it eventually cost him his job.
The Board of Trustees at Penn State only agreed to all those sanctions because they wanted the bad publicity to go away as soon as possible. If they fought the NCAA, it would have made the entire University look bad. The NCAA knew that and punished Penn State, even though not a single NCAA rule was broken. Yes, the rules of common decency were broken, but not by anybody associated with the football team. Sandusky had long ago retired from coaching, after being pushed out by Paterno. Sandusky only had an office at the facility due to his connections to Board members who were also members of his foundation. Unfortunately, Paterno should have done more there too. If he pushed the issue, I'm sure he could have had Sandusky completely removed from the University. He didn't and that's unfortunate.
Sandusky is now rotting in a jail cell for his heinous crimes and the $60 million fine that Penn State paid will be used to fund activities and programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse and the treatment of victims of child sexual abuse within the state of Pennsylvania. The University wasn't going to ask for that money back, but the politicians were just looking for a little good publicity of their own by keeping that money in their home state. Don't think for a second that those two politicians brought this lawsuit out of the goodness of their hearts. There's always an angle. The NCAA had theirs and these guys had theirs. Now it's time to put that all behind us.
The sad part is that JoePa isn't alive to see his wins restored, since he died shortly after his dismissal. Now, though, it's time to honor the man and his legend.
It's time for the University to put the statue of JoePa back in front of Beaver Stadium in State College. It's time for there to be an official ceremony before a game to honor his legacy. It's time to recognize the fact that no other coach in the history of major college football ever won as many games as Joe Paterno.
It's time to recognize 409 wins, now that the NCAA was forced to admit that they were wrong to ever try to take them away in the first place.
409 wins will stand forever and now it's time to make sure the name Joe Paterno, or JoePa, stands forever at Penn State.