In a truly feel good story, the head coach with the most victories in NCAA Football is getting a contract extension. In a sport full of the “youth movement” for head coaches, Penn State has given Joe Paterno three more years on his contract at the tender age of 82 and Paterno looks to add more victories to his record (source: espn.com).
While it is feel good story, the contract extension is by no means a charity case. Joe Paterno, who is fondly referred to as JoePa, has been the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions since 1966 and if you add the 16 seasons he served as an assistant coach, 2009 will be Joe Paterno’s 60th year with Penn State. In his tenure, Paterno has leaded the Nittany Lions to a 383-126-3 record including an 11-1 regular season record this year and a Rose Bowl berth against USC. He has won two national titles with the Nittany Lions and has won an amazing 23 bowl appearances (source: wikipedia.org). And considering the fact that Paterno is due to make around $520,000 per season (source: espn.com) perhaps it is JoePa who is offering a little charity to Penn State.
While $520,000 is a lot of money to an average Joe like me, in the world of College Football Head Coaching it isn’t really all that much. Consider Nick Saban who is the head coach of Alabama. Saban earns the most of all college football head coaches at an estimated $4 million (source: espn.com) and while he is a great coach, he is no Joe Paterno. Perhaps that’s what makes this story feel so good. Here is a man that is truly doing what he loves at 82 (I hope I can say that at his age) and while I’m sure the money is nice, for Paterno it isn’t about the pay check at all.
No some may wonder how a man at the age of 82 can effectively say that he can coach until he is 85. Joe Paterno seems to ponder those exact sentiments. “There’s no reason for me not to think that I can go for a while,” he said. “Now how long is a while? I don’t know.” While he puts no time table on retirement, the contract extension reportedly has provisions in it allowing Paterno and Penn State to shorten or extend the contract as they deem necessary (source: espn.com). Yes the word shorten is attached to that statement, but so is extend.
As for me, I hope he can coach until he is 100 and this three year contract extension is a good start. I have been a fan of college football my whole life and have always admired class acts like Joe Paterno. At 82 years young the coach with the most wins all time in NCAA Football is looking to add to his total. So be warned college football world; JoePa is here to stay and he isn’t going anywhere any time soon.