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The Daily Cavalcade - Paterno And His Age
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno
Posted Dec 26, 2008

82-year-old Joe Paterno just signed a three-year extension to remain the Penn State head coach. Why are so many ticked off by this? Was it the right move? Pete Fiutak gives his thoughts on the Paterno situation in the Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's DAILY Cavalcade of Whimsy

The Paterno Situation ... Dec. 26

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances OR ... The obvious attempt to keep readers coming to the site on a regular basis during the off-season.
By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  

This Week's Whimsies: Tuesday - Holiday Wish List For All 119 Teams

Wednesday - Chizik, Gill, & the Race Card

If today's blurb sucks, it’s not my faultI'll likely coach from the press box in the Rose Bowl as I'm recovering from hip replacement surgery. More importantly, I'm trying to work my way through a bout of Wii shoulder.

Past Whimsies
- 2008 Season
2008 Preseason Cavalcade
- 2007 Season
- 2006 Season

"Hey, I guess they're right. Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose. I'll be right back. Don't you go dying on me!" ... Too much continues to be made about Joe Paterno's contract extension. As if it's offending the sensibilities of some people that the guy is 82 years old and just signed a three-year extension. I was a guest on at least 15 different radio shows over the last few weeks with hosts who wanted to fire on the move from Penn State, as if Paterno was being hired by Auburn or something.

Let's get a couple of things straight. First of all, Penn State is 11-1, won the Big Ten title, and is playing USC in the Rose Bowl. Penn State is 11-1, won the Big Ten title, and is playing USC in the Rose Bowl. Any one of those three things would make for a successful season by anyone's standards, and the Nittany Lions came within a last second Iowa field goal from playing for the national title. This year, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech would be the only teams that wouldn't trade
résumés with Penn State, but Paterno should be gone just because he's old?!

It doesn't matter who the head coach you could come up with to replace Paterno: 11-1, Big Ten title, Rose Bowl. If Paterno was 62 instead of 82, the extension wouldn't be a big deal and no one would be looking to kick him out the door. So he's not a micro-manager. So? He's still actively involved in the day-to-day operations and if nothing else, he's the reason those players who are getting the job done are at Penn State. Give credit where credit is due for getting the talent on campus in the first place.

I talked to star WR Derrick Williams just after he came to Penn State about the likelihood of finishing his career with a different head coach, when he could've gone anywhere as one of the nation's top recruits, but he wanted to go to Penn State for the school, and to play for Paterno, even if it was going to be just a year. This summer, I asked Williams, if he was surprised that his entire career would be played with Paterno at the helm, and he said, "no, he's amazing. I didn't really think about it as my career went on; he'll go on as long as he wants to."

You never, ever, ever, screw with a streak.

Penn State has won 40 games in four years, and it can make it 41 with a win over the Trojans. There have been four bowl wins in the last three years, this will be the second BCS appearance in the last four, and over the course of his career, Paterno has won nine of his last 11 bowls that are now part of the BCS configuration including the 2006 Orange Bowl over Florida State. Whomever follows Paterno will dream about pulling off what the program has been able to do over the last four seasons.

As Big Daddy Kane once quipped, "eight to 80, dumb, cripple or crazy,"
it doesn't matter how old Paterno is and how long he's going to be at Penn State. If he's winning like this, keep the magic going as long as possible. If he's losing, he gets the benefit of a couple of hundred doubts and he gets to go out whenever he feels like it; he has earned his stripes. This is his program, and Penn State is his school.

I got into a few arguments last week with people saying it's sort of sad that Paterno is sticking around, especially considering his current health status with a hip replacement. Who cares? If he wants to coach from the press box, or at least lord over his assistants, then let him. If he's in a vegetative state 15 years from no and all he can do is blink in the signals, you let him still coach his program.

What else would you rather do when you're 82? Playing Wii bowling and watching Matlock reruns gets old in a big hurry. Wouldn't you want to spend your retirement years as the head coach of a major college football powerhouse? How fun is that? Paterno still thinks it is, and so do the Penn State fans who have enjoyed all the recent wins.