The Washington Post

Penn State coach Joe Paterno may move to press box indefinitely

How much longer will JoePa patrol the sidelines in Happy Valley? (Gene Puskar/AP)

As difficult as that fact may be to stomach, Penn State coach Joe Paterno is slowly beginning to accept it as a reality.

On Saturday the college coaching legend had another sideline scare only two months after he sustained right shoulder and pelvis injuries during a collision with a player in training camp. Those injuries forced JoePa to start the season in the press box, which is where he returned after halftime of the Nittany Lions’ 13-3 win over Iowa on Saturday.

A player “almost ran over me,” Paterno said after the game. “I had to make a couple quick moves to get out of the way.

“I was afraid ... I just don’t want to be in the way. I don’t want those kids to be looking around to see where I am. So I told them at halftime ‘You guys are doing all right, let’s turn it up one notch and I’ll get out of here and get out of your hair.’ And they did.”

Despite a string of bumps, bruises and breaks sustained while patrolling the sideline, Paterno has always been stubborn — and understandably so — to leave his spot.

Before the team’s season opener, he told reporters: “Being upstairs is for the birds. I like to be on the sidelines and get a feel for things and be able to grab a kid and tell him certain things.”

But JoePa has learned nearly as much as he’s taught in 45 years of coaching, and the latest lesson — should he chose to accept it — may be the one that keeps him coaching until he’s ready to put down the clipboard.

Paterno was one of the many coaches to reflect on the passing of Raiders owner Al Davis over the weekend. As it turns out, Davis once offered Paterno a job with the Raiders, but JoePa had a sneaking suspicion their two personalities might not mesh well on the same coaching staff.

“When Al got the job, he called me to be his offensive coordinator,” Paterno told the York Daily Record. “I told Al, ‘You and I would have trouble getting along, because I am smarter than you are.’”

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
It's in the details: Five ways to enhance your kitchen makeover
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Border collies: A 'mouse trap' for geese on the National Mall
Play Videos
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
What you need to know about Planned Parenthood
Play Videos
How to save and spend money at college
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Europe's migrant crisis, explained