Dear Joseph Paterno (may I call you JoePa?):
As my favorite octogenarian – mostly by default since my eldest grandparent (my maternal grandfather) was born after 1930 and my great-grandmother (paternal side) has already hit the 90-year mark – I have a humble favor to ask of you.
Please, please do not leave Penn State.
I know there is pressure, unfortunately, from outside sources – media sources even – to relinquish your coveted position once your contract expires following this season. And while these forces are clearly unspoken of and people such as athletic director Tim Curley – who I’ve spoken to in the past, though he likely would not recall – only tout your accomplishments, I think we both know that the PSU administration, including Graham Spanier himself, would prefer you walk off the field before a hearse must do the job.
And while this thought may seem morbid, those of us who are and forever remain die-hard Penn State fans believe Beaver Stadium – respectfully known as “The House that JoePa Built” – is where you should stay until your (God forbid!) final days.
This year’s team, 7-0 thus far, has gone far beyond many of our hopes, and you have led them to those numerous victories only two months into the season, though we acknowledge a few challenges (i.e. Ohio State and potentially Michigan State) remain in the weeks ahead. We recognize how much truly rides on each week’s game as we Tweet our PSU commitment – “WE ARE … PENN STATE” – and proudly wear alumni T-shirts from dawn until awakening Sunday mornings from our drunken slumbers.
Some of us sport that dedication – albeit to the memories and the University as a whole – every day, as I do with the tattoo on my left foot. And some of us are the first to tear down an Ohio State Fan – BOOOOOOOOOOOO! – when he attempts to tell me (true story) that on Oct. 8, 2005, as rain poured from above and I stood shivering in the bleachers – but overcome with more Penn State pride than any day beforehand – OSU defeated PSU, when I know, for certain, the truth behind that outcome, for I was there as my fellow fanatics jumped from the stands and stormed the field in a fit of joyous celebration as we beat those Buckeyes 17-10.
I graduated from that school, and sadly the stadium’s student section, hoping all I left behind would forever remain. And you, JoePa, are an institution of your own for Penn State University. Thus, I hope you, too, live every day of your life under that college umbrella with the football monarchy you have so beautifully and exceedingly led for the past 43 years; a team you have shaped and molded, despite constant student turnover, in your 59 total seasons with the Nittany Lions.
Your contract may expire in January, following what could be – and many of us cross our fingers each day for – a truly momentous season for the boys in blue and white. But we also hope the PSU administrators, coaching staff, powers that be recognize all you have done for that school and the symbolism you have brought to the football program.
You, JoePa, are more than one of the winningest college football coaches. YOU ARE … PENN STATE!
MinD, Class of 2007
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