Posted by Adam Jacobi
Legendary former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno died early Sunday morning at the age of 85, leaving behind a football legacy that is simply unmatched. Here are some reactions from coaches and other notable figures in the Big Ten, which Penn State joined 19 years ago.
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien: "It is with great sadness that I am compelled to deliver this message of condolence and tribute to a great man, husband, father and someone who is more than just a coach, Joe Paterno. First, on behalf of Penn State Football, we offer our sincerest condolences to the Paterno family for their loss. We also offer our condolences to the Penn State community and, in particular, to those who wore the Penn State colors, our Nittany Lion football players and alumni. Today they lost a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure, and we extend our deepest sympathies. The Penn State Football program is one of college football's iconic programs because it was led by an icon in the coaching profession in Joe Paterno. There are no words to express my respect for him as a man and as a coach. To be following in his footsteps at Penn State is an honor. Our families, our football program, our university and all of college football have suffered a great loss, and we will be eternally grateful for Coach Paterno's immeasurable contributions."
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Joe Paterno. His passing marks a tremendous loss for Penn State, college football and for countless fans, coaches and student-athletes. Our condolences go out to the Paterno family and to the entire Penn State community."
Nebraska athletic director and former head coach Tom Osborne: "I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno's passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best."
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer: "I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Coach Joe Paterno. He was a man who I have deep respect for as a human being, as a husband and father, as a leader and as a football coach. I was very fortunate to have been able to develop a personal relationship with him, especially over the course of the last several years, and it is something that I will always cherish.
"My prayers and thoughts go out to his wife, Sue, and to their family, and also to the family he had at Penn State University. We have lost a remarkable person and someone who affected the lives of so many people in so many positive ways. His presence will be dearly missed. His legacy as a coach, as a winner and as a champion will carry on forever."
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke: "I am certainly saddened by the news today of Coach Paterno's passing. College football has lost one of its greatest, a coaching icon. Even though I was just an assistant when our teams faced one another, I feel honored to have shared the field with Joe. His players' love for him, it shows how he touched their lives and it tells who he was as a man. He will be missed. His mark on Penn State and college football will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joe's family and friends and the entire Penn State community."
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill: "I got home last night from recruiting and my oldest daughter said she had just heard. Fifteen minutes later, my youngest daughter at Murray State called. That's two girls from a coach's family reacting to it. That really sums up his impact. It hits home. He coached for 60 years with more than 100 players per year. Think about how many lives he touched, how many good things he has done.
"From my family to the Paterno family, our prayers go out to them. It's a sad day for football, but a good day for the man upstairs.
"I would tell people not to forget what that guy has done. To coach for 60 years in one place, that just won't ever happen again. I didn't get to coach against him. But I got to coach in the Big Ten, sit next to him at a meeting and have my picture taken with him. That's something I will never forget."
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald: "The legacy of Joe Paterno will be long lasting — not only as a football coach and mentor, but as a family man. For 62 years, Coach Paterno poured his heart and soul into a football program and university, helping countless young men reach their dreams and goals on the football field before moving on to successful careers and lives as adults. It's hard to fathom the impact that Coach Paterno has had on college football and at Penn State. His insight and wisdom will be missed. We at Northwestern send our condolences to Sue and the Paterno family."
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio: "On behalf of my immediate family and the Michigan State football family, we express our deepest sympathy to Joe Paterno’s wife Sue, his five children and 17 grandchildren, as well as his extended family, the Penn State football family and the entire State College community.
"Joe dedicated his life to Penn State and college football. He had unparalleled success during his 46 seasons as the head coach at Penn State. Joe was a major player who helped revolutionize the game of college football. In his six-plus decades at Penn State, he influenced and impacted countless numbers of players and people at a championship level.
"Over the past five years, my wife and I have had the privilege of spending time with both Joe and his wife Sue. We appreciated and enjoyed the time spent at our various functions together and will forever remember him as a steward of our profession."
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema: "Coach Paterno obviously did so many wonderful things for a number of years, not only with the success of his teams on the field but the number of lives he shaped. I hope people remember his lifetime achievements. From day one, when I joined the head coaching ranks and was fortunate enough to cross paths with him at coaches meetings and various functions, he was always very engaging and complimentary of the way we did things at Wisconsin and how we played. I enjoyed competing with him at every level. Our Badger football family sends our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Penn State community and the Paterno family."
Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach Barry Alvarez: "Today is a sad day. Joe made a difference. He impacted a lot of people. He made a difference in a community, in a college and in college football. He was truly special and an icon. For someone to continue to do what he did through different generations and for such a long period of time and be effective was amazing. I’ve considered Joe a friend and a mentor. This is sad day for college football and the Penn State community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and the Paterno family."
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