Happy Birthday JoePa!

Just when you thought Joe Paterno couldn’t possibly get any older, he goes ahead and has a birthday today. His 84th of the sort. Yes, you read that correctly. Joe Paterno was born on this date, December 21st, in 1926… B.C.

He has been the head coach of Pennsylvania State University since 1966. Not only before The Beatles music was released on iTunes, but nearly before the band even made their move to America. He makes roughly $1,030,000 annually. Most of that salary gets donated back in to the school he works for. The rest of course goes to AARP membership fees and Reader’s Digest Large Print subscriptions. Paterno has coached his teams to five undefeated and untied seasons, and only two national championships (I’m sure the old man would have loved the BCS well before 1994, but unfortunately for him, computers didn’t exist for most of his coaching career).

However, many of us are well aware that Paterno hasn’t always had the greatest success as head coach. Of his 45 seasons as a head coach, he has had 5 losing seasons. During each season, Penn State fans and the media have begged the question, “Is Joe Paterno too old to coach?” Many people even claimed Joe Paterno should be fired.

Allow me to remind you of the first time Joe Paterno had a losing season. It was many, many, many years ago. Joe Paterno was the head coach of Adam (yes, the first man to walk the Earth, Adam). We all know how Adam lost to temptation ending his season suddenly. After trying to place blame on his wife, Eve, Adam quickly turned that blame over to his head coach, Joe Paterno. Although they were evicted from their home stadium of Eden (or also known as “The Garden”), Paterno was not fired and continued to coach.

Of course, his second losing season was just as controversial. Paterno recruited a young kid named Abel. After landing the blue chipper, the two worked together to try and recruit Abel’s brother, Cain. Unfortunately for Paterno, Cain decided to go to Michigan. In the brothers’ first meeting against each other, Cain literally killed Abel. Paterno was embarrassed and in an emotional wreck for the rest of the season. Many people blamed Paterno and called for his head (not literally), but he maintained his job.

JoePa’s accumulated his third losing season in 1914. It was the final game of the season and senior captain Edward J. Smith was making his final start before graduating. Penn State was expected to go undefeated. Numerous media outlets claimed that Penn State was “unbeatable” and that “Even God himself couldn’t beat Penn State.” However, in the middle of the season, Penn State hit a rough patch in their schedule. When asked what they should do, senior captain Smith remembered what Coach Paterno always told him, “Stretch your legs, see how fast you can run, even in the thick of things.” Well, Smith took this advice literally and completely sunk any hopes at a National Title that Penn State had that season. Ed Smith was never to be heard of after that titanic failed season.

Joe Paterno hugs his wife, Sue, and her upper gums after defeating Texas, 30-6, in the 1972 Cotton Bowl.

Paterno’s fourth losing season came in 1988 when his team went 5-6. Penn State fans were sad.

Paterno walks off the field after defeating Syracuse, mainly due to the play of Franco Harris and his sideburns.

Paterno’s fifth and final season actually came in this decade. Paterno had a highly touted recruit on his team by the name of M. Night Shyamalan, a name that the Italian Paterno had trouble saying during M. Night’s entire stint with Penn State. With MNS, Paterno’s team won big in their first two games. People loved Penn State and their unbreakable offense. It was like they had a sixth sense for winning. However, in their third game, they showed signs of being beatable, but they still won overall. But that was the last time the village of Happy Valley saw the Nittany Lions play well. For the rest of the season, the played like a lady in the water, with out happening to even be the last airbender. They were so bad, the analogies even got worse as the season went on. People wanted Paterno out of the head coaching position at Penn State.

Needless to say, JoePa quieted all of his critics and naysayers this season when Penn State finished with an astounding 7-5 record and a date with the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl.

Penn State fans also realized that if they finally did can the 84-year-old, they would probably be left with this guy as their head coach:

Happy Birthday Joe Paterno! Here’s to many more years of you doing the thing that you love so dearly.


Austin hosts a country music morning radio show in Chicago after nearly a decade in sports talk radio (The Jim Rome Show, Steve Gorman SPORTS!) Colin Cowherd and Smash Mouth follow him on Twitter and he wears pants every day.


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