Irony has marked Joe Paterno’s career at Penn State in so many ways.
Numerous undefeated seasons, yet few national titles. Incredible football accomplishments, yet a relentless focus on academics. A career marked by integrity and honor, yet a retirement marred by scandal.
Another irony is that some of Joe’s greatest personal achievements came in his worst seasons. He passed the mystical 400-win mark in a 7-6 season (2010); he passed Eddie Robinson for all-time Division 1 wins (409) in the season where Penn State’s administration pushed him out.
But the first record Joe needed to get was the major college football record: Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 323 career victory mark. The win normally would have happened in 2000, but a losing season—and then a terrible start to 2001, meant that the record still loomed.
After a dramatic win over Northwestern a week earlier, No. 323 and a tie with Bryant had finally arrived; when would the record be entirely Paterno’s? Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State ...