I am not infallible by no means. I make errors and mistakes and if you think otherwise you probably need help.
My thoughts on Coach Joe Paterno may differ with some readers out there . I met Joe after the first Liberty Bowl in December of 1959. The game was played in freezing weather at Soldier’s Field in Philadelphia. Penn State beat Alabama that day 7 – 0. Joe was the assistant coach to Rip Engle. Joe and I were still kids. I remember telling him that I threw baseballs down in Tuscaloosa and he told me that he threw footballs up at Brown. I had no idea where Brown was and I don’t think Joe knew where Tuscaloosa was.
There were two coaches on that field on Dec. 1959 that would become legends. Paul Bryant became the most winning coach in college football and Joe Paterno broke his record. I’ve read in some local newspapers that Joe Paterno was not greater than Penn. State University. They came up with the same fairy tale about Bryant. There are still people down in Alabama that believe that Bear Bryant could walk on water. I decided to ask him about this one day. He said,”Tome (Southern accent) I have never tried it but I can’t swim a damn stroke.”
Another local resident was upset because someone said that College Park was only a Cow Town until Paterno became head coach in 1966. This lady graduated from Penn. State in 1962 if my memory serves me right. I decided to check this one out with a friend of mine that works at the Alumni Office at the University of Alabama. She was born and raised in College Park, lived near the Paterno’s, went to grade and high school there and is a Penn. State Graduate.
Beaver Stadium seats over 100,000. She told me that the parking area that surrounds the stadium used to be a cow pasture. You can still see barns in the distance. The lady that once lived near Joe Paterno now lives in North Port, Alabama near Nick Sabin. She says his football players listen to him but his dog won’t come back when he calls him. Before the Alabama- Penn State game this past year, Sabin said, “I will be proud and honored just to put my arms around Joe Paterno.”
Many years ago I had a Sport’s Club in East Brunswick. I was getting some good sports figures to speak at the club. One year Alabama came to the Meadowlands to play Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights almost won that game. I invited both Paul Bear Bryant and Frank Burns to speak at our next meeting. Frank was able to make it but the Bear sent me a wire. It read: “Tome – Thanks for the invitation but I still have one game left to prepare for. Give my regards to Frank.” Signed Paul Bryant.
Paul Bryant came back to build a football program at his home in Tuscaloosa. He came back from Texas A&M and his famous Junction Boys. The first time I ever met Coach (there were about 58 coaches but if you said coach there was only one) was in the Athletic Department. I was borrowing 25 Cents from one of the basketball players. Bryant asked me my name and why I needed 25 Cents. I told him, “It ‘s for a book.” He gave me a quarter and I thank him. I tried to repay him later but he would never take the 25 Cents.
I lived near the football field and during football season those lights would be on well after midnight. Paul Bryant was building a major football program and Tuscaloosa would be more than just a bus stop. The last time I saw Paul Bryant was in 1974. My son was four years old. I took a picture of the Bear and Johnny at half time of a game against Rice. That is some of my thoughts on the past or yesterday.
I have been criticized by some for thinking about the past but we are a product of the past and only a fool refuses to learn from past experiences. I wrote a syllabus in 1975. My study explained how the nervous system can effect health especially if you are already trying to cure an illness. It certainly shows the healing process down.
Check with your doctor and they will tell you the same thing. Yesteryear the boss or Big Boys thought about the other guy or that employee who has put many years of his life into his job. You treat that guy the same as you would want to be treated. Yes my friends, I didn’t go to school to learn this in a sand box right in my backyard. The new line of thought by the Big Boys is different. They say, “Let’s see what we can do t et rid of this long time employee.” I doubt if these big boys ever played in a sandbox.
Joe Paterno has to be the ultimate of all cases. I believe he did the right thing by reporting the incident to his superiors. The Big Boys or trustees made a huge mistake. They needed a big name so let’s go after the quarterback. They give him a phone call and tell him, “You are fired.” They hit a below the belt and they hit a guy that was already down. I think that he was treated shabbily and like dirt. They could even asked him retire early.
Do I think this tension killed him while battling lung cancer? It certainly didn’t help him recover. Knute Rockne and Paul Bryant will always mean Notre Dame and Alabama to me and now Joe Paterno will always mean Penn State to me.
Thomas Francis Clark