Team preview: Penn State

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(All information as of June 20, 2007)


As one might suspect of a man who has been coaching at the same school since the Truman administration, there are more than a few ways to quantify Joe Paterno's impact on Penn State and college football:

• The 362 victories, which rank second to Florida State's Bobby Bowden in major-college wins.
• The vast amount of money he raised for the school's library, which now features his name.
• The long-awaited induction into college football's Hall of Fame, which was postponed from last December to this December after he fractured his shin and tore knee ligaments in a sideline collision at Wisconsin last fall.

Those highlights don't begin to tell Paterno's story, a story that is still being written for the 80-year-old coach. The 2007 season promises more landmark moments -- and more wins.

When he leads his team onto the Beaver Stadium field for the Sept. 1 opener against Florida International, it will mark Paterno's 42nd consecutive season as Penn State's head coach. That will break the record for longevity he shares with Amos Alonzo Stagg, who spent 41 years at the University of Chicago.

While some might wonder how an octogenarian can continue to seize the reins of a big-time program, it's fair to say Paterno holds just as much sway today as he did when he took over for his mentor, Rip Engle, in 1966.

Need an example of his continued cachet?

During the offseason, six Nittany Lions were charged after an off-campus fight that was fueled when some players called teammates for backup.

While the charges eventually were dropped against everybody except strong safety Anthony Scirrotto and defensive tackle Chris Baker, Paterno decided everybody deserved punishment.

Paterno's decision? Every player on the roster must help to clean Beaver Stadium on Sunday mornings after home games.
"Not just the kids that were involved, because we're all in it together," Paterno said. "This is a team embarrassment. I wouldn't call it anything much other than that."

Paterno also promised additional punishment, including potential suspensions, for those who played a role in the fight.

How many other head coaches, in this day and age, choose the less lenient path?