If You Say It On The Internet You Say It Forever: A Six Month Review Of Paterno's Public Image

Alg_paterno_medium

One of the fun things about the internet is the way every single thing that has ever happened is accessible because of Google.  Even when someone does something stupid and takes down the content, if it was worth its salt at all someone else re-published it on a blog or message board and, again, it's a search away.

So when Paterno signed a three year extension yesterday I got to thinking: how fickle is the media, really?  Well, very.

First, some quotes you may or may not have read back in August.  I doubt you've forgotten the OTL story, in which Paterno was probably unfairly accused of some things but then did himself no favors by acting very defensive.  Well everyone obviously piled on. 

 As for Bowden and Paterno, they get no kudos. Not yet. Not even for the undeniable brilliance of their careers, brilliance they have compromised by staying far, far too long.

That's a Gregg Doyel story from September 25, the one he titled "Earth to old guys: Retire already and save your dignity".  So even after Paterno had won four games and put his team in the AP top 12, this creative guy stayed the course.  He had to, you see, because he said this before the season:

It looks to me like the media might just be able to accomplish what the gutless Penn State administration and the selfish Penn State head coach cannot: Pressure on Paterno. Progress.

Next up: Paterno's forced resignation.

Time to go, Joe.

Yeah, horary media.  Stay strong, boys.

Doyel's esteemed colleague (you knew this name was comin') Dennis Dodd rode a more pronounced rollercoaster.

In August:

Yo, Joe, this about clinches it, right?

Right?

Good God, man. What's it going to take?

 He's talking about the arrests and that "163 criminal charges" stat that was so trendy at the time.

His next story title, just two months later?  "Paterno's uncertain future has one certainty: He deserves a deal".  Nice Dodd.  Weeks later he would name him the best coach in the Big Ten.

And remember this story?  Where Ron Cook at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette told us to root against our team?

In a perfect world, Penn State wins big this season and sends a willing Paterno into retirement on top. In one way, that's the ending he deserves because, in his day, he was the best college football coach there ever was. But in another way, that's a better ending than Paterno has a right to expect after he has stayed on far too long and worn out his welcome.

[...]

[The Penn State administration should lock him out of his office] Even then, Paterno probably would bang on the door and scream, "Let me in, damn it. I'm still the coach here!"

Sadly, Paterno appears to be that out of touch with reality.

That's why a 6-6 season might be better this season.

Um, right.  If we all lose everyone wins.  In October:

 The reasons for the magical 8-0 Penn State start begin and end with Paterno, but there are plenty in between.

This can go on all day but I think we all get the point.

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press had this to say back in October:

But Joe Paterno is no longer senile. When you are undefeated and ranked third, you have graduated to wily.

In a lot of ways this is the most accurate thing anyone has written about Paterno in the last four months.  Maize n Brew knows why:

There is a phrase that I hate, but is sometimes true.  It goes "perception is reality."  Perception is not reality, because reality is reality.  It's not the fault of reality that most can't seem to grasp it, nor should reality apologize or change from being "right" just because some people perceive it as "wrong."  It's most frustrating when little bits of reality lead to a giant leap of perception.

That is a blog post about how the media perceives the Big Ten as a football conference, but it's spot on here too.  When Joe was coming off two decent but somewhat mediocre seasons, he was in decline.  When some of his players did insanely stupid things that involved breaking laws, he was senile, out of touch, and too old to be a competent head coach.

And now? In the Rose Bowl? Well, he's "wily"! Hell, he's the COACH OF THE YEAR!

In that same story, along with the "web site mob" quote we love to use here at BSD, was this overlooked statement I think not only sums up his attitude, but also has a lot of value in it:

"I always tell people (Winston) Churchill got kicked out after he saved the western world from a dictatorship," Paterno said. "And when they kicked him out, they asked what he thought about gratitude. He said, 'Gratitude doesn't exist in politics, only in history.' It's the same way in football. Gratitude doesn't exist in football."

Photo credit: NY Daily News

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