STATE COLLEGE —
There will never be another coaching career like Joe Paterno’s.
His time at Penn State started long before coaches were pulling down multimillion dollar salaries, before fire so-and-so.com web sites and win-now-or-else attitudes at programs that have rarely contended for championships.
No Division I coach won more games (409) or had a longer run at one school than Paterno.
It’s hard to fathom a coach staying at a power program such as Penn State for even 20 years these days, let alone the 46 seasons Paterno led the Nittany Lions.
Coaches who come to define not just a team but a school, Hall of Famers such as Bear Bryant, Tom Osborne, Bo Schembechler, Bobby Bowden and Paterno, seem to be going the way of the wishbone and tear-away jerseys in college football.
“Look what’s happening,” Bowden told The Associated Press yesterday, hours after Paterno died at the age of 85. “Coaches getting fired in two years. Coaches making a million dollars here and they get $2 million and they leave. They break a five-year contract. You’ve got unloyalty at both ends.”
The 82-year-old Bowden was nudged into retirement two years ago after 34 seasons at Florida State. Paterno was fired during a chaotic week in November after his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was charged with sexually abusing children.
He found out about Paterno’s death when he arrived home Sunday morning after coaching a charity game between former Florida State and Miami players. Former Hurricanes coach Howard Schnellenberger, who retired from Florida Atlantic after this past season at the age of 77, was coaching the Miami squad.
Bowden and Paterno became friends over the years partly because, as they grew older, they could relate to each like few other coaches could.
“We’d sit and talk and discuss a lot of NCAA questions,” Bowden said. “Those were great memories. My wife Ann and Sue (Paterno’s wife) got along real good together too.”
Bowden said he’d written a letter to Paterno “not too long ago,” but hadn’t spoken with him for some time.
“Bobby always thought so much of Joe,” Ann Bowden said. “He was just a unique character. Joe was very strong and outspoken. He and Bobby were different in a lot of respects. He’d been there a longer time and he was stronger, more forceful, said what he thought. Bobby guards himself a little bit when he says something.”