Joe Paterno had some interesting things to say regarding SMU getting the death penalty back in 1987

Joe Paterno did a seemingly self aware interview back in 1987. In the wide ranging piece done Thomas Ferrarro, Paterno talks about how he attempted to run his program at Penn State and he even gave a rather interesting comment regarding Southern Methodist University receiving the “death penalty”.

In an attempt to not just pile on with our opinion, we’ll just pull a few excerpts from the piece that we find to be interesting.

Here Paterno talks about the topic of running a “clean program”:

“It scares the heck out of me,” booms the hallowed football coach. “Because I know I’m not that clean. Nobody is that clean.”

“I don’t want to appear to be any more than I am,” says Paterno, now speaking in a near whisper. “And that’s a good, hard-working coach who is a decent guy, a family guy, who doesn’t want to cheat.”

“I lose my temper sometimes. I’m not an easy-going guy when it comes to getting a football team ready. I’m tough on the kids. I’m tough on my staff.”

On the importance of football in his players’ lives:

“We are trying to win football games … but I tell the kids ‘enjoy yourself. There is much besides football.’ I want them to learn art, literature and music and all the other things college has to offer.”

On being a simple man:

“I make good money — and I think I should,” Paterno says.

Yet, he leads a relatively austere life. He drives a red Ford Tempo and, with his wife of 26 years, Sue, a homemaker, in a modest house three blocks off the Penn State campus.

“I’d be embarrassed to drive a Cadillac,” says Paterno. “My wife would be, too. We wouldn’t be comfortable having a maid. We just don’t need a lot of things.”

On passing on the chance to coach in the NFL:

“Here, I have an opportunity to affect the lives of a lot of young people — and not just on my football team,” he said. “I’m kidding myself that that would be true at the professional level.”


“It’s unbelievable to think that kind of corruption came right from the top of the power structure. The NCAA did what it had to do” in canceling SMU’s 1988 football season.

On the Penn State program as a whole:

“I know if somebody came up here and went right through our program with a fine-tooth comb they are going to probably find something that’s not right. I was going to throw a party for seniors and their fathers. But I couldn’t. It would have been extra benefits.”

We’ll stop there. If we didn’t, this post would be longer than it ever needs to be. But you really should read the rest of it and make out of it what you may.

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