Posts tagged ‘Jay Paterno’
If there’s been a silver lining in the difficult last 14 months on campus, it’s been the abundance of teachable moments provided by the Sandusky scandal and its fallout. That’s a cliche (and one I normally try to avoid), but hey, this is a university, right? Everything should be fodder for learning.
Mike Poorman ’82 has made the most of those opportunities since the scandal broke. A journalist and longtime faculty member in the College of Communications, Mike created and taught the famous “JoePa” class, and he’s been tying the scandal into his teaching since the week the story broke. He continues to do so in his new class, Comm 170: Introduction to the Sports Industry.
I dropped in on Mike’s class Friday, when the guest speaker was none other than Jay Paterno ’91. For these students, a mix of communications majors who might end up in journalism, public relations, broadcasting, marketing, or who knows what else, it was a rare look at the process of sports business—which, for the media companies that hosted Jay in more than two dozen interviews in the past five days, is exactly what this is about. Jay talked honestly about how he and his family decided which TV and radio shows to speak to in their recent media blitz, and how to approach each: understanding the demographics of each show’s audience, preparing for each host’s interview style (agreeable or aggressive? rational or emotional?), and tailoring the family’s message to each.
I’m not sure all of the 75 or so students fully appreciated the insights Jay had to offer; it was a Friday afternoon, of course, and the start of THON was just a few hours away. But I think those who were paying attention learned a bit about what goes on behind the curtain, both for the folks with a financial stake in the multi-billion-dollar business of sport, and for the folks hoping to use the media to tell their story or make their case. In this story, the teachable moments don’t cease.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Usually, when it’s time to let readers know that the next issue of The Penn Stater is on its way to mailboxes, we try to walk a fine line — to give you a taste of the magazine’s content without giving too much away.
But in the case of our March/April issue, the face on the cover won’t surprise you one bit.
On Jan. 22, when Joe Paterno passed away, we knew immediately what direction this issue had to take. Putting together the magazine was about honoring a man who touched the lives of every Penn Stater. For one story, alumni and students recall the day they met the man himself. In one of three essays, Jay Paterno ’91 reflects on his father’s legacy. And throughout the issue, you’ll find plenty of photos — some of which you’ve probably never seen before.
Your magazine should arrive within the next few days. Let us know when you receive your copy and, as always, let us know what you think.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Another year, another record.
This year’s THON raised $10,686,924.83 for the Four Diamonds Fund, topping last year’s record and breaking the $10 million mark for the first time.
Encouraging dancers in the final hours: Jay Paterno ’91, who took to the podium on Sunday afternoon.
“If you live to be 100 years old, what you’ve done here for the last two days, weeks, months…what you’ve done here will echo in eternity,” Paterno told the crowd. “When you want to know what Penn State is, and when you want to know what ‘We Are’ means, come to THON.”
For Penn State Live’s photos of THON weekend, click here. Or check out Onward State’s minute-by-minute coverage, with lots of videos and photos from THON, here. And in case you haven’t seen it already, here is the front page of today’s Daily Collegian.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
I’ve been absent from the blog—and the magazine—for the better part of the last two weeks. I have an unusual excuse: I’ve been in Cuba.
It was, admittedly, an awkward time to go off on vacation, with Joe Paterno having just passed away and the magazine staff working in fifth gear to put together a tribute to him for our next issue.
But I had already postponed the trip once: I booked the trip months ago and was originally scheduled to go in early December, but the Sandusky scandal—and our need to scrap our Jan-Feb issue in favor of an issue devoted to the scandal—scuttled those plans and caused me to rebook for the end of January. Rescheduling the trip yet again wasn’t an option, for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with the complicated nature of traveling to Cuba.
(Incidentally, I went there under a U.S.-approved “people-to-people cultural exchange,” which is making it possible for more and more U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally. Here’s a Washington Post story from last Friday about such exchanges.)
So I ended up watching from a distance, with only spotty Internet access, as the Penn State family mourned Paterno’s death. I wasn’t able to watch the memorial service at all—though I’m told that (more…)
Father Matthew Laffey of the Penn State Catholic Center set the tone—and provided a broad outline of Joe Paterno’s life—in his opening prayer. “Thank you for this man. … How fortunate this corner of your kingdom has been.”
The details came slowly over the next two hours Thursday afternoon, as speakers at A Memorial for Joe painted pictures of the man who helped to build—and became largely synonymous with—Penn State.
We met the competitive Joe. “The bigger the game, the quieter he was in practice,” said Todd Blackledge, quarterback of the 1982 national championship team. “But the gleam in his eyes told the story.”
The literary Joe, who never called Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, anything other than “Dean,” who donated millions of dollars to the library, and who clearly passed that love of literature on to his son. Here’s who Jay Paterno quoted in his closing eulogy: Sophocles, William Blatty, U2, John Adams, John Ruskin, Tennessee Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., and Arthur Ashe.
The funny Joe, so quick with a one-liner, who told Jimmy Cefalo’s mother on a recruiting visit, “Your pasta is better than Mrs. Cappelletti’s.” (more…)
I arrived at 6 a.m. Wednesday, nearly two hours before officials again opened the doors to Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for Joe Paterno’s viewing. And I wasn’t even the first one there.
By far. The Early Bird award goes to David Brown of Greensburg, Pa. He’s a Pitt alum, but has been a Penn State — and Paterno fan — his entire life. Brown arrived at 4 a.m. He left his house at midnight.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been 1,000 fans here at 4,” Brown told me. “I just wanted to pay my respects.”
By 6:30, it was just a handful of people. The sun hadn’t risen yet and it was the type of late January morning where you could see — and feel — your breath.
By 7, there were 75 people. Fifteen minutes later, that number doubled. And at 7:40, when officials opened the doors of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for Joe Paterno’s viewing, the line had grown to 1,000.
Thousands of fans, supporters and members of the Penn State community are expected to pass through the spiritual center from 8 to noon Wednesday to pay their final respects to Paterno.
When I left Pasquerilla Tuesday night at about 11, police told me that “tens of thousands of people” attended Tuesday’s 10-hour window. When I walked through at 10:40, Paterno’s children, Jay ’91 and Mary Kay Hort ’86, stood by the exit and shook hands, hugged and thanked supporters who walked through. Sue Pohland ’62, was also there until the end — sitting in the chairs normally reserved for the choir, wearing a thick red coat, her arm around one of her granddaughters.
The second guy in line Wednesday had a story, too. John Myers, 70, from Tamaqua, Pa., arrived at 5 a.m. after a two-and-a half hour drive.
“It was worth it,” he said.
Myers has been a Penn State fan for more than 60 years. He remembers visiting State College in high school. After the last football game every year, the school would send a bus up so students could attend Penn State games. The bus cost 75 cents.
Emily Kaplan, intern
P.S. To see more of Nick’s photography work, click here to check out his blog.
I walked from my office to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday, thinking I might be early enough to beat the crowds. I wasn’t close.
Heading toward the tail end of a line that snaked back and forth through the Pasquerilla courtyard, Disneyland-style, stretched east on the sidewalk along Curtin Road, and at times extended north onto Shortlidge Road almost to Park Avenue, I got a sense of the crowd that already had turned out for Joe Paterno. This was in the first hour of a 10-hour viewing window on Tuesday, with four more hours scheduled Wednesday morning. This was no surprise.
I joined the crowd and spent two hours in line, all but the last 10 minutes of it outside, before the final stretch. We entered the spiritual center through a side door, shuffled down a hallway and entered the main lobby, where a few more turns of the line finally led us into the main auditorium. The clumps of people thinned into a slow but steadily moving single file, which continued down the aisle on the left side of the large, high-ceilinged room. At the front lay a casket, adorned with flowers.
We turned right, the casket on our left, the already indelible black-and-white image of Paterno, arms crossed and smiling, the only other adornment. On each side of the casket stood a large young man—former Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark ’08 and a current player I didn’t recognize—part of the “honor guard” of lettermen who took turns aside their coach on the stage. The line had moved much more slowly in the early going, as some of those who’d come to pay their respects paused 15 or 20 seconds for prayer and reflection, a practice that must’ve been discouraged by funeral officials mindful of the tens of thousands still to come. By the time I got there, it seemed instinctive for each of us to stop for just a beat before moving on.
Jay Paterno ’91 stood for a time not far from the exit, shaking every hand presented him. I’m told his brother Scott ’97 did the same at other times during the 10-hour public viewing. I don’t know if their other siblings or Joe’s widow, Sue ’62, met the crowd, but it seems safe to assume they did. The Paterno family has made no secret of their appreciation for the public support they’ve received over the past few months.
A friend who was an hour or so behind me in line texted me later to tell me that Tom Bradley ’78, Paterno’s former player, longtime assistant, and interim replacement, had made his way down the line on Curtin Road. As far as my friend could tell, Bradley shook the hand of every person in the line and offered the same words to each of them: “Thanks for coming out for Coach.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Word spread quickly this evening that Joe Paterno’s health situation had turned grave. Hundreds of people gathered at the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium, bringing candles and other mementoes, and State College police set up barricades on McKee Street to prevent cars from driving to Joe’s house.
At about 8:45 p.m. there was word that Joe had passed away. CBS News seemed to be the source of the report (apparently based on a tweet it saw from the student-run site OnwardState.com), and several other news outlets began repeating it.
Ten minutes later came word that the reports of Joe’s death were erroneous. At 8:57 p.m., Paterno family spokesperson Dan McGinn was quoted as saying they were “absolutely not true.”
Around 9:20 p.m., Jay Paterno tweeted: “I appreciate the support & prayers. Joe is continuing to fight.” And his brother Scott wrote a similar tweet: “CBS report is wrong – Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time.”
Since then it’s been interesting to read some of the posts on Twitter that are critical of those who, in their zeal to get the news out first, got it wrong.
—”Tonight’s lesson: The old journalism adage ‘if your mother says she loves you, check it out’ rings true.”
—”big lesson young journos, you take someone’s death seriously. You get it from direct sources like family.”
—”When reporting that someone has died, you cannot be “confident” your report is correct. You have to be sure your report is correct.”
—”The CBS editor who went with the story of Paterno’s death should tweet his own name, instantly. Step up.” (This one came from from Sally Jenkins, the Washington Post sportswriter who interviewed Paterno a week ago.)
The Poynter Institute has already written a story explaining how the erroneous reports of Joe’s death spread. Onward State has issued an apology for their error, with managing editor Devon Edwards stepping down immediately. Meanwhile, Penn Staters everywhere wait anxiously, keeping the Paterno family in their thoughts.
Tina Hay, editor
Scott Fata ’00, president of the Baltimore Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, isn’t sure how the movement got started. But a friend forwarded him one of those emails that had been forwarded several times before, the gist of which was that the original sender thought it would be cool for as many Penn State fans as possible to send cards to Joe Paterno on his 85th birthday—which is today, Dec. 21.
Fata liked the idea a lot. He promoted it on the chapter’s website, and he tweeted it, as well. He also upped the ante, challenging fans and alums to send 109,000 cards—one for every seat in Beaver Stadium. He wasn’t the only person who got out the word (several Facebook groups were started in the past few weeks), but his suggestion got passed around a lot, and it seemed to strike a chord in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and Paterno’s subsequent cancer diagnosis and broken pelvis.
Some people believe Paterno has taken a disproportionate share of the blame and outrage in the scandal. Others think it’s not quite so clear-cut, but they’re distressed at how things were handled. And as the Altoona Mirror, which hasn’t been easy on Paterno, wrote in an editorial, “No one wanted Paterno’s magnificent career to end the way it did.”
Said Fata, “I think part of the reason, too, is that he was fired so abruptly—we as alumni never really got a chance to give him the big goodbye that I think a lot of us wanted to do.”
He had no idea whether anyone was following through until Jay Paterno tweeted Wednesday afternoon, “Saw boatloads of birthday cards for Joe at the house & realized that I’d better get him one before tomorrow.”
I wasn’t sure how many cards equal a boatload, so I checked with the post office. Someone who must remain anonymous said that an entire tray of mail—about 500 cards—went to the Paterno residence on Wednesday, and that three trays went Thursday, on Paterno’s actual birthday. So it’s at least a couple thousand cards.
Another birthday tribute to Paterno came from about 400 of his former players, who have signed this letter calling for “due process for Joe Paterno and the Penn State community.” At this link, it’s possible to add your comments.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
I’d been wanting to write about Jay Paterno ’91 since I met him back in 2007, when I was covering the first Penn State Football Fantasy Camp for The Penn Stater. The idea finally came to fruition over this spring and summer, and my profile of Jay appears in our Sept/Oct issue—you can download a PDF of the feature here.
Two things had me convinced Jay would make an interesting subject for a feature. The first is that, among his college football coaching peers, he’s something of a renaissance man. He’s a writer, with a regular column on StateCollege.com and a couple of novels in the works. He’s also politically active, having stumped for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign—and he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he someday might run for office himself.
Mostly, though, I was intrigued by how polarizing a figure Jay is for a lot of Penn State football fans, particularly the small but vocal segment who can’t seem to stand him. Indirectly, those folks helped inspire the story, so it’s no surprise that some of them have strong opinions about the story itself. Over the past week or so, I’ve skimmed the messages boards on Blue White Illustrated, Fight on State and Lions 247, where our story was discussed in a handful of posts. To answer the most colorful accusation I found there: No, we were not “put up to” the story by the Paterno family—but it was fun to imagine Joe Paterno calling our office for something like that. Alas, I’m guessing he’s got better things to do.
Whether or not your thoughts on the subject are similarly conspiracy-minded, we’re curious what you think of the story, and the rest of the issue. Feel free to leave comments below, or on our Facebook page.
Almost forgot: The great shot of Jay walking in Beaver Stadium comes courtesy of Bill Cardoni, who shoots quite a bit for us. Needless to say, he’s a terrific photographer. You can find more of his work here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor