Penn State Reels Over Paterno's Death

Tributes paid to iconic coach's complicated legacy

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 22, 2012 1:44 PM CST

(Newser) – Candles, flowers, and mourners surround Penn State's statue of "Joe Pa"; the men's basketball team observed a moment of silence before its game today; and the tributes are rolling in as State College pays tribute to the complicated legacy of Joe Paterno:

  • Former Penn State President Graham Spanier: "He was a distinguished American, a legendary coach, and Penn State's greatest ambassador."
  • Penn State's Board of Trustees: "We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His life, work, and generosity will be remembered always. The University plans to honor him for his many contributions and to remember his remarkable life and legacy."

  • The Paterno family: "His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community."
  • 1975-'77 Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler: "It's just sad because I think he died from other things than lung cancer. I don't think that the Penn State that he helped us to become and all the principles and values and things that he taught were carried out in the handling of his situation."
  • 1968-1972 Penn State running back Lydell Mitchell: "We came to Penn State as young kids and when we left there we were men and the reason for that was Joe Paterno."
  • Penn State linebacker Matt Millen: "My first thoughts about Joe are not as a coach because he was well beyond that. He was an educator and a teacher. He taught lessons, some about football, mostly about life. He taught us how to treat others and how to conduct life. He did it with his life."
  • Former Michigan State wide receiver Nigea Carter: "(During recruiting,) Paterno was the only coach that didn't talk about football. He talked about life and what life had to offer at State College. While I did not go there, he was the only coach to call me and wish me luck."

A man reaches out to touch the statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pa.
A man reaches out to touch the statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pa.   (Getty Images)
Community members pay their respects at the statue of Joe Paterno after hearing of Paterno's death, outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College.
Community members pay their respects at the statue of Joe Paterno after hearing of Paterno's death, outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College.   (Getty Images)
Nick Kanapesky, a Penn State student, watches a report at Penn State's student union about the death of Joe Paterno in State College, Pa., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.
Nick Kanapesky, a Penn State student, watches a report at Penn State's student union about the death of Joe Paterno in State College, Pa., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/John Beale)
Penn State football player Eric Shrive pays his respects at a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium after learning of Paterno's death on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in State College,Pa.
Penn State football player Eric Shrive pays his respects at a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium after learning of Paterno's death on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in State College,Pa.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
People gather around a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium to pay their respects after learning of his death on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in State College,Pa..
People gather around a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium to pay their respects after learning of his death on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in State College,Pa..   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Members of the Penn State basketball team pause in a moment of silence before an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in Bloomington, Ind.
Members of the Penn State basketball team pause in a moment of silence before an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in Bloomington, Ind.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
A woman pays her respects at a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium after learning of his death Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in State College, Pa.
A woman pays her respects at a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium after learning of his death Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Candles, many burnt out, circle the statue of Joe Paterno, outside of Beaver Stadium in the early hours of January 22, 2012 in State College.
Candles, many burnt out, circle the statue of Joe Paterno, outside of Beaver Stadium in the early hours of January 22, 2012 in State College.   (Getty Images)
In this April, 25, 2009, file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno laughs during a news conference in State College, Pa.
In this April, 25, 2009, file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno laughs during a news conference in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
In this Dec. 6, 1973 file photo, Joe Paterno clutches the Lambert Trophy after it was awarded to his team as emblematic of collegiate grid supremacy in the East.
In this Dec. 6, 1973 file photo, Joe Paterno clutches the Lambert Trophy after it was awarded to his team as emblematic of collegiate grid supremacy in the East.   (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff, File)
In this Jan. 1, 1972 file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is embraced by his wife, Sue, following Penn State's 30-6 victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
In this Jan. 1, 1972 file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is embraced by his wife, Sue, following Penn State's 30-6 victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.   (AP Photo/File)
In this Jan. 28, 1965 file photo, Joe Paterno, associate football coach at Penn state, directs players at State College, Pa.
In this Jan. 28, 1965 file photo, Joe Paterno, associate football coach at Penn state, directs players at State College, Pa.   (AP Photo, File)
In this Sept. 5, 1987 file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno walks around his players as they warm up for a game against Bowling Green in State College, Pa.
In this Sept. 5, 1987 file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno walks around his players as they warm up for a game against Bowling Green in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo, File)
In this Oct. 17, 2009 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno smiles as he walks the field before a game against Minnesota in State College, Pa.
In this Oct. 17, 2009 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno smiles as he walks the field before a game against Minnesota in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
In this Sept. 4, 2004 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno leads his team onto the field before a game against Akron in State College, Pa.
In this Sept. 4, 2004 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno leads his team onto the field before a game against Akron in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo /Carolyn Kaster, File)
In this Oct. 10, 2009 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno and assistant coach Mike McQueary walk off the field together in State College, Pa.
In this Oct. 10, 2009 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno and assistant coach Mike McQueary walk off the field together in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
In this Nov. 6, 2010 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno is carried off the field by his players after getting his 400th collegiate win in a 38-21 victory over Northwestern.
In this Nov. 6, 2010 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno is carried off the field by his players after getting his 400th collegiate win in a 38-21 victory over Northwestern.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
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