Joe Paterno (Photo courtesy: Getty Images Sport)
By Erick Smith, USA TODAY
An upcoming biography detailing the life of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno is due on newsstands later this month. The book is written by Joe Posnanski, the author of Paterno, and excerpts of his work have been published in a piece in GQ that provides an early preview of the book.
Posnanski moved his family to State College to cover Paterno at Penn State. He was there during the 2011 season when the coach was fired during his 46th season leading the school's football team.
In the GQ piece, he describes Paterno's reaction the day after his removal as coach that sparked student unrest on the State College campus.
On Thursday, Paterno met with his coaches at his house. He sobbed uncontrollably. This was his bad day. Later, one of his former captains, Brandon Short, stopped by the house. When Brandon asked, "How are you doing, Coach?" Paterno answered, "I'm okay," but the last syllable was shaky, muffled by crying, and then he broke down and said, "I don't know what I'm going to do with myself." Nobody knew how to handle such emotion. Joe had always seemed invulnerable. On Thursday, though, he cried continually.
The catalyst for Paterno's firing came days before when former football assistant Jerry Sandusky was indicted by a grand jury for sexual abuse of children.
When the news broke of Sandusky's indictment, Posnanski writes Paterno's son Scott was the first to recognize the seriousness of the charges because of his father's involvement.
Scott Paterno was the first in the family to understand that the Pennsylvania grand jury presentment that indicted Jerry Sandusky could end his father's career. This wasn't surprising; Scott tended to be the most realistic-or cynical, depending on who you asked-in the family. He had run for Congress and lost and along the way tasted the allure and nastiness of public life. He had worked as a lawyer and as a lobbyist. He would sometimes tell people, "Hey, don't kid yourself, I'm the asshole of the family." When Scott read the presentment, he called his father and said, "Dad, you have to face the possibility that you will never coach another game."