Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Couple of Minutes on JoPa

The closest I ever got to a coaching legend was being able to say hello to Bo Schembechler a couple of times.  I didn't know him personally but I felt like I did.  When he passed it felt like I had lost a Uncle, which was strange feeling for a man I had only met for a 1/2 a second a couple of times.  

I am sure Penn State fans feel the same way the last few days.  They lost the grandfather of their football program a guy that never wanted to retire because he knew what would happen.   Joe Paterno probably stayed 10 years or so too long as the head coach of Penn State Football.  On the other hand, we really didn't know how much coaching he was really doing.  When TV showed him in the press box he didn't have a headset on or wasn't talking to anyone.  So it was clear he was a figure head when it came to his program but a man who still had a ton of power on and off campus.

I am torn on JoPa, he was loyal to Penn State until his last breath on Sunday but on the other hand he really didn't know how to be the CEO of Penn State Football.  Times have changed since he put on his whistle 40+ years ago.   I am sure he never turned on a PC or carried a cell phone.  He was old school and that was one of the reasons Penn State fans loved him.  It was also the reason that lead to his downfall. 

Back in the day, people stayed with one company and worked there until they earned their pension.   In many ways, they got their own identity from the job they had.     That is the mistake our forefathers made, a job doesn't define you, no matter what the job is.  Being a father, a son, a husband, an Uncle, a friend, a little league coach, etc.  Those are the things that define you.   Sure your job may play into it, but it shouldn't define all of you.    

Why you ask?  Because when that job is taken away from you (and it will).   You have nothing left.   Your will to live is gone.   I have clear examples in my own life and there are clear examples in coaching with JoPa, Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes.    Bill Gates maybe known as the richest man in the world and founder of Microsoft, but now his charity work defines him. I wonder which stage of his life will be more rewarding? 

For all accounts, JoPa was a good person and even a better football coach that had a terrible ending to his story.    Right now, you can remember all the good things he did, but in the end he stayed too long and couldn't handle the very important situations when it ran across his desk.   JoPa supporters will ask you to remember everything up to the last 3 months when you consider his legacy, which I'm not sure is possible.  Fact in point, we all remember that Woody lost his job becaues he punched a Clemson player in a bowl game.

This is a sad ending to an incredible run as head coach of Penn State.   RIP JoPa.

1 comment:

uncle ron said...

Amen Big Bob....RIP Coach Paterno