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Joe Paterno: The Penn State Legend Loses Battle with Lung Cancer

9 Oct 1999:  Coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions talks to a team member during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Kinick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Mick AkersAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2012

As confirmed by the AP, Joe Paterno, the longtime face of Penn State football, has passed away at the age of 85 after complications from his lung cancer treatment that had him in the hospital since Jan. 13.

The face of Penn State football, Paterno amassed a record of 409-136-3 while becoming the beloved figure around State College—as is so prominently shown with the huge bronze statue outside of Beaver Stadium.

Paterno became an assistant coach at PSU in 1950 before taking over as head coach in 1966.

A tenure of more than six decades at Penn State, Paterno saw the arena the Nittany Lions play in go from 46,284, to 106,572—a direct result of the great success JoePa had as a part of the coaching staff.

There is no doubt that as much as Paterno was beloved by anyone who went to Penn State, Paterno loved the school as much as anything in his life.

Although his career at PSU ended amid scandal of alleged sexual assaults by longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, Paterno's legacy won't be defined by the scandal, but by the hard work he put into making Penn State one of the greatest college football programs of all time.

Paterno put everything he had into the Penn State football team, so when he was fired from his head coaching position, it may seem that he lost the spark in his life that made him go—a spark that the Penn State community will never forget.

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