RIP: Joe Paterno, Nittany Lion King, Dead At 85

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Joe Paterno, who racked up more wins than anyone else in major college football but was fired from Penn State amid a child sex abuse scandal has died. He was 85. His family released a statement Sunday morning to announce his death. Paterno’s son Scott announced Nov. 18 that his father was being treated for lung cancer, which was diagnosed in mid-November during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness. The storied career of “JoePa” included 409 wins in 46 seasons and two national championships. But his reputation for success with honor was shattered when a former assistant was charged with molesting 10 boys during a 15-year span, including some in the Penn State athletic complex. Critics said Paterno should have done more to stop it. He was fired Nov. 9. In all, Paterno guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons. MORE

RELATED: He arrived in State College in 1950, a 23-year-old Brown University graduate whose idea was to serve as an assistant to coach Rip Engle for a couple of seasons while saving enough money for law school. That was the profession his father, Angelo, had envisioned for Joe as he filled in the time on his way to, say, the governorship of New York or maybe the presidency of the United States. “I had no intention to coach when I got out of Brown,” Paterno recalled in 2007. “Come to this hick town? From Brooklyn?” But the hick town, and coaching, got into Paterno’s head more than he ever could have imagined. He had this idea of conducting a “grand experiment,” helping fuse athletics and academics in such a way that his new university could become nationally recognized in the classroom as well as on the field. So the scholarly young man who could read “The Aeneid” in its original Latin told a disappointed Angelo that he wasn’t going to become an attorney, that his considerable energies might be put to better use instructing football players how to block, tackle and become better educated, more productive human beings. “Whatever you do,” Angelo replied, “be sure you make an impact.” So the son did just that. For 62 years, the last 46 of which, beginning in 1966, he served as head coach, Joe Paterno and Penn State essentially became one and the same. His players won, they went to class, they graduated and they left Penn State with the realization that the coach who had ridden them so relentlessly did so for their benefit, not for his own glorification. MORE

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