Joe Paterno and Temple

Joe Paterno and Wayne Hardin promote series.

By Mike Gibson
Every death is an incredibly sad thing, but I can’t help but think Joe Paterno’s passing on Sunday was sadder than most.
Paterno was faced with reporting a repugnant crime, something none of us ever even think about, and he went to someone who was effectively the head of the Penn State police department.
I thought he did his duty.
He could have done more and, in retrospect, he would have done more.
I don’t think that should erase all of the wonderful things he did for Penn State in particular and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in general.
The true measure of a man is how many people whose lives he has touched in a positive way and I think Paterno more than met the measure.
I’ve never even been aware of a man who came into contact, directly or indirectly, through more Pennsylvanians than Joe Paterno.
My colleague at the Inquirer and fellow Temple News sports editor, Joe Juliano, often told me great stories of the “off-the-record” cocktail parties for Penn State beat writers. Paterno held them at his modest home a block or two away from Beaver Stadium. I wish I could tell you some of those stories, but off the record means off the record to me.
Even after the man’s death.
Paterno would have a cocktail or two and loosen up, giving the reporters a more human side of the legend.
When it comes to Temple, I have my own Paterno story.
As I young Temple fan, I read an anecdote that appeared, ironically enough, in a Bill Conlin column in  in the Philadelphia Daily News about Temple signing a deal to play Penn State beginning in 1975.
“The guy who scheduled Temple must have been drunk,” Conlin quoted Paterno as saying, referring to the PSU athletic director at the time.
Who knows, maybe Conlin both picked up the quote at one of those cocktail parties and violated a confidence mentioning the exchange.
I have a strong suspicion both of the above are correct.
Either way, the remark stirred enough of my fuel that I wrote Paterno a letter (back in those days we wrote handwritten letters), detailing how improved Temple was and that the Owls would be a worthy foe.
Paterno wrote me a letter back, also handwritten, and admitted to the quote but said he was first against the idea but, upon refection, thought the series would be a “great gift to our wonderful Philadelphia alumni.”
(Originally, the plan was to play all of the games in Philadelphia but that changed when the first one ended in a 26-25 win for Penn State at Franklin Field in 1975.)
At the end of the letter, Paterno wrote:
“Good luck to Temple.”
I wish I had saved it but, to the best of my knowledge, it was in a shoe box I lost in one of my many moves since.
Later, while working at the Doylestown Intelligencer, I fielded a call every Thursday morning from Paterno to Terry Nau, the sports editor of the Intel at that time. Nau and Paterno were friends from State College, where Nau was sports editor of the defunct daily the Pennsylvania Mirror.
I was floored when he first called.
“Hold on, Mr. Paterno,” I said.
“Mike, it’s Joe,” Paterno said.
“OK, here’s Terry.”
On one of the calls, I mentioned to him that I wrote him a letter as a kid about the resumption of the Temple series and thanked him for his handwritten response.
He said he remembered. He might have just said that, but I chose to think he really did remember.
Love the guy, but always wanted to beat him just once to get back for the drunk comment.


13 thoughts on “Joe Paterno and Temple

  1. Paterno was 28-0 versus Temple, so lets start start a 28 game win streak against Penn State.

  2. interesting comment today regarding Navy and the BE. “We have a definite challenge ahead of us,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “I feel like there’s drift happening between the haves and havenots (in major college football), and I want to be with the haves."we are the havenots…,why should we continue to donate to the school and athletic department under these circumstances? it's like throwing good money after bad

  3. If we become the Boise State of the East (and we're close) we will not be among the have-nots.Boise State, though, was able to accomplish that independent rise to the top in a conference comparable to CUSA, not the MAC.If our AD doesn't make a statement that we will pursue all options to become a part of either CUSA or a BCS conference (ACC or BE), then you are right.It's good money after bad.If we move up to CUSA (and there is no doubt in my mind that's a move up), we are better positioning ourselves to be a part of the haves.That's really the only move we have now.We should make it.

  4. Paterno was 28-0 as a head coach against TU, but Temple did tie him, 7-7, when he was the ONLY full-time assistant coach for Rip Engle in 1950.

  5. Paterno was arrogant. He always got it his way. I was at that '75 game in Philly. After that one, so much for JoePa supporting the Philly PSU alumni. Better odds and leverage for Joe to win back up in the friendly confines of little ole State College. If Philly alumni wanted to see the lions play, they'd have to travel a distance. That 26-25 squeaker got JoePA's attention following his dissing of the Owls over cocktails. He then dictated to an old, proud eastern rival, Syracuse, that they would have to play two games at PSU for every one played at Syracuse. If not agreeable to that, then SYR was off the PSU football schedule. Paterno did the same thing to Pitt which was always a much anticipated intra-state match-up that garned national network attention. Joe always got it his way. Believe me when I say, I'd have given a body part to have seen the Owls beat that arrogant SOB in 75. I'd have done the same thing this year when the owls came up short on the scoreboard, but outhit Paterno's squad. Just ask the PSU official in charge of student discipline if the arrogant Paterno did not always get it his way. JoePA stayed at PSU to save the college game from the likes of the Barry Switzers and the Jackie Sherrils, but he waited the weekend to call his hand-picked AD to report a very disturbing shower incident in the PSU football building. Arrogant, always arrogant. Nothing against Bill O'brien, but a win vs. PSU in the future just will not be quite as sweet as it would have been against the elitist Paterno. I wish O'brien the best, except when they play the Owls. Who knows, maybe even the PSU alumni from Philly will catch a break. With Paterno not dictating the action, maybe the Temple-PSU game can return to Philly once in awhile.

  6. Mike, what do you think the odds are of moving up to CUSA? And what kind of time frame, 2013, '14? I won't even guess on any BE moves, right now that conference seems to be all over the place with who is coming and going.

  7. I will go to my grave thinking had Mike Gerardi remained in the game we would have made JUST enough plays to beat PSU.I'll never be able to prove it, though.Inserting CS in there was a cluster bleep move that I'll never understand.It forced MG outside his comfort zone into having to throw into tight windows.I'll get that off my mind only with a Matty Brown 4-touchdown, 226-yard effort at PSU this year (in a win, of course).As far as CUSA, we can go any time we want but not sooner than 2013.It's all up to the Temple athletic administration to get off their asses. That's easier said than done, unfortunately.

  8. Greg Schianno leaving Rutgers for the NFL… Daz better make his way into NJ and steal away some of their 3 and 4 star recruits ASAP! I can guarantee you O'Brien at PSU already sees it as a golden opportunity make up for all the prospects that decommitted from Penn State. Unfortunately, until we name a new STUD offensive coordinator we won't have much leverage… Daz should have the ability to grab just about any major university's Quarterback coach that is looking to make a splash as an Offensive Coordinator.

  9. we're close to being well over the limit. Still, this will help us land three-star LB Jazmarr Clax. Maybe Brandon Peoples can talk his cousin into joining the Temple party.I hope RU promotes Frank Cignetti, jr., who almost got the TU job.Greg Schiano was not a great coach.I have no idea what Tampa Bay is thinking.

  10. Now I see a story by Mike Kern on that Rutgers is interested in 'Daz…don't know if that is just speculation or what. The story mentioned that both he and Schiane have the same agent. Have you picked anything up and I think this is another reason why the administration needs to move football to a better conference asap. No way to build a program with constant coaching changes.

  11. It seems our recruiting is going well, even though we are not heading the Big East. Which makes me think/compare about what happened earlier this year when supposedly our recruits were being told about joining the Big East, to what is going on at PSU right now. I wonder what PSU is telling their recruits with a looming "Death Penalty" clouding the program? You would think it could never happen at PSU, but when you read about the NCAA's description of "Loss of Institutional Control", it's hard NOT to see it happening at PSU. They could make the argument that JoePA knew nothing about it. It was the Administration and the Trustees who designed the 15 year cover-up. Well, that's the definition of the "Loss of Institution Control", isn't it? (Not that I'm bashing PSU, but it is what it is and it dosen't look promising for PSU for the next several years.)

  12. Kern is a lazy reporter who picks up speculation from Jersey and runs with it. Pompey, on the other hand, checks and rechecks with good sources. Pompey doesn't think SA is headed to RU. That's good enough for me.As far as PSU goes, I don't see the death penalty like SMU got but I do see at least a couple of years with scholarship restrictions and bowl game bans.

  13. Now Pompey is reporting it. Daz and bradshaw better come out and nip this in the bud TODAY, so we have stability for the final sprint of recruiting

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