I have a unique perspective of which to speak from. I have been a fan of Penn State Football since I was 7 years old, and have seen my admiration for Joe Paterno grow through the last 30. Just like UB, I have no ties to Penn State either, I did not go to school at either place. My only ties to Penn State are my admiration for Joe Paterno and the fact that my Dads family hails from Clearfield, PA which is in the heart of Central Pennsylvania. It is because of my love for Penn State Football and my admiration of Joe Paterno, that I have a love for college football, and its that reason why I show my support for the University at Buffalo. As I sit here writing this, I can honestly say that I have two favorite teams in the world of college football. So as a UB fan, let me tell you what I know about Joe Paterno.Let me tell you the story about the Joe Paterno I know. It all began when after graduating from Brown University and serving his country at the end of WWII, he followed his College head coach and mentor to Penn State College as an assistant coach on staff. His father, Angelo, who wanted Joe to practice Law, upon hearing that Joe was signing on as an assistant coach, told Joe, "make an impact." For 60+ years, Joe Paterno strived to heed his fathers expectations. In the larger sense, they can be seen by the fact that Penn State has grown from being merely Penn State College into the Penn State University, one of the premier Land Grant research institutions in the country. In spite of his work on the football field, Joe Paterno helped do that. Upon Joe's passing, Graham Spanier, former president of Penn State, said of Joe, "he was the universities greatest ambassador."
For most Penn State fans and alumni, its the little things, (not so little to us, but little to Joe) that Joe did, that most outside of Penn State dont know about, that reaffirms our belief in Joe Paterno. Its through his "grand experiment" and "success with honor" that made the student part of student-athlete the most important aspect of his career. It is evidenced by the fact that his players graduation rates are at or near the top every year, in fact the latest have Penn State players at 86%, at the very top with Stanford. Its in the fact that his former players will come out and say that because of Joe, they are the men they are today. Its in the fact that throughout his tenure, the Penn State football program has never been charged with NCAA violations. Its in the myriad of charitable donations made to a myriad of charitable foundations. Its in the millions of dollars that he has given back to academic concerns at Penn State University. Its in the multi-million dollar donation that aided in expanding the Library at Penn State. Its in the fact that after being relieved of his duties as Head Football Coach, a few weeks later, Joe was donating money to his commitments inside of the University. Its in as simple as the numerous stories from alumni and students, telling how they would be sitting there studying or reading and Joe would stop, and ask them what they were reading, or ask them how school is going. This could go on and on and on. And take note that none of these instances above have anything to do with actual on the field accomplishments, which are numerous in themselves. For the Joe we know, it was always more than just football, it was always about academics and educating young minds. And he did all this unselfishly and never asking for anything in return. This is the Joe Penn Staters will miss and it is the standard that we will strive for.
I have a strong suspicion that where ever Joe is now, Angelo, his father, met him there and after taking his son into his arms, told him that "youve made an impact."