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College Football Spotlight

The Great Debate

September 28, 2003|JAY CHRISTENSEN;JIM RHODE

WITH PENN STATE FACING THE LIKELY PROSPECT OF ITS THIRD LOSING RECORD IN FOUR SEASONS, SHOULD 76-YEAR-OLD COACH JOE PATERNO STEP ASIDE?

POINT: Nothing torches my backside more than forced retirement, a practice all too common in today's corporate world. But I'm going to make an exception here. It's time for Paterno's glorious run to end. These days, the only running you see from Paterno is when he's chasing referees. Let us put aside wins and losses and talk common sense. Paterno has become increasingly combative and bitter when asked about anything that might not reflect glowingly on the program. Players are showing up on police reports with more frequency. Safety Anwar Phillips, charged with sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, both felonies, was expelled from the university in December. Yet Paterno allowed Phillips, who was acquitted in August, to play in the Capital One Bowl in January. By doing so, Paterno put his program above actions taken by the university's Office of Judicial Affairs. A coach is an employee of the university, and his powers should not supersede those in charge of maintaining conduct of students. Unfortunately, Paterno's actions in this case and several others have tarnished his reputation. But the reputation he is tarnishing the most is that of the university.

JAY CHRISTENSEN

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COUNTERPOINT: Hey, we're not talking total recall, Arnold. This is Joe Pa, a Pennsylvania institution. He's so big that the state's abbreviation is named after him. The man has earned the right to go out on his own terms. He's college football's winningest coach, for crying out loud. If you hold his 21-20 record over the last three-plus seasons against him, then what do you do with the five Big Ten coaches who entered the season with losing records? OK, so it seems Paterno's on the field more than his quarterback and closes better on officials than his linebackers do on running backs. Well, with Bobby Knight no longer at Indiana, who's going to keep Big Ten officials in line if Paterno doesn't? Whether it's taking a stand on college athletic standards or against officials who don't see so good anymore, Joe Pa is a pillar of strength in a profession in which the weak are simply shuffled off to broadcast booths or studios.

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JIM RHODE

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