Joe Paterno: "I'm Not Omniscient!"

Illustration for article titled Joe Paterno: "I'm Not Omniscient!"

Joe Posnanski's book on Joe Paterno will be released next week (and includes the quote from Bill James you see above), but various members of the media have obtained a copy. Among other things, the book reveals that Joe Paterno had to be coerced into reading the grand jury presentment by his family and school administrators. While reading the presentment, Paterno had to ask "his son what sodomy meant."


The book also addresses the relationship between Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky. The AP described it as "frosty."

Now, obviously we are reading excerpts of a larger work, so we'll need further clarification, but some of this seems odd. Jerry Sandusky began his coaching career with Penn State in 1969. Joe Paterno had been head coach since 1966. If "the two men despised each other from the start," why not part ways early on? Neither had yet established the reputations that would later make them college football royalty.


If Paterno wanted to get rid of some assistant coach he could have done so. If Sandusky did not like working for Paterno he could have caught on elsewhere. Nevermind why a head coach would promote a guy he "despised" to defensive coordinator, and why an assistant would continue to work for a head coach he "despised." Perhaps the book provides more context into this seemingly love/hate relationship of multiple—but never actual—firings and resignations.

It seems clear, though, that the book takes great pains to show just how much these two men did not like each other. Paterno, especially it seems, did not particularly care for Sandusky but felt outside pressures to retain him.

Paterno did not want to fire Sandusky because he was so popular in the community and with fans, according to the book. The book indicates that Sandusky showed interest in taking an early retirement in 1999, and Paterno encouraged him to do so and let his assistant know he would not be the next head coach at Penn State.

Sandusky and Curley negotiated a retirement package, and among Sandusky's demands was to stay on through the 1999 season.


So Paterno and Penn State kept Sandusky around to avoid a public backlash. Paterno would go on to regret the decision when Penn State "lost three games late in the year with an underperforming defense."

Original image via @JimBaumbach
Book: Family had to push Paterno to read Jerry Sandusky report [SI; AP]