Just what will the upcoming biography of the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno reveal? What can it reveal, with Paterno’s legacy eternally tarnished by the conviction of Jerry Sandusky on child sex-abuse charges and his program stripped of over 100 victories by the NCAA?
Details and inside information, it seems. Joe Posnanski is the author of “Paterno,” which will be released later this month and a modest excerpt in GQ this month reveals the depth of Paterno’s devastation at no longer being coach.
[The day after he was fired last November] Paterno met with his coaches at his house. He sobbed uncontrollably. This was his bad day. Later, one of his former captains, Brandon Short, stopped by the house. When Brandon asked, “How are you doing, Coach?” Paterno answered, “I'm okay,” but the last syllable was shaky, muffled by crying, and then he broke down and said, “I don't know what I'm going to do with myself.” Nobody knew how to handle such emotion. Joe had always seemed invulnerable. On Thursday, though, he cried continually.
Paterno’s son, Scott, was the realist, the first to acknowledge the impact the scandal would have on Paterno’s career and legacy.
This wasn't surprising; Scott tended to be the most realistic — or cynical, depending on who you asked — in the family. He had run for Congress and lost and along the way tasted the allure and nastiness of public life. He had worked as a lawyer and as a lobbyist. He would sometimes tell people, “Hey, don't kid yourself, I'm the [expletive] of the family.” When Scott read the presentment, he called his father and said, “Dad, you have to face the possibility that you will never coach another game.”
The next week after his dismissal, Paterno was found to have lung cancer. In January, he died at the age of 85. “My name,” he told his son Jay, according to Posnanski, “I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it's gone.”
Document: Penn State’s NCAA sanctions