Joe Paterno Book: Penn State Coach's Legacy Won't Change with New Biography

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - NOVEMBER 08: Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno leaves the team's football building on November 8, 2011 in University Park, Pennsylvania. Amid allegations that former assistant Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse, Paterno's weekly news conference was canceled about an hour before it was scheduled to occur. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

No matter what you think about former Penn State coach Joe Paterno today, the odds of that opinion changing because of what you read in a book are slim to none. 

Sportswriter Joe Posnanski has chronicled the final year of Paterno's coaching career in a new biography, titled Paterno, that will be released on August 21. For now, there have been some excerpts released in the latest issue of GQ magazine

It is not a long excerpt, but it does provide some insight into what Paterno and the family were trying to do after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke, and then after Paterno was fired from Penn State. 

The most telling part surrounds the Paterno family hiring a public relations specialist to help weather through the storm that was coming:

This is when McGinn learned just how far Paterno's influence and reputation had fallen. He asked [family adviser Guido] D'Elia for the name of one person on the Penn State board of trustees, just one, whom they could reach out to, to negotiate a gracious ending. D'Elia shook his head.

"One person on the board, that's all we need," McGinn said.

We all assumed that Paterno had fallen out of favor at Penn State for a variety of reasons, but for him to not have one person on the board to reach out to is telling. 

That said, I don't know exactly what we are supposed to make of this book. Obviously, we haven't seen the finished product, so we have no idea what else is in it. However, there is nothing written in here that is going to change Paterno's legacy in college football now. 

Perhaps that isn't the purpose of the book. It could just be the tale of a beloved figure falling to his lowest possible moments before he passed away, like some sort of real-life Greek tragedy. 

The people who have supported Paterno throughout this whole ordeal will continue to do so; the people who lost all respect for Paterno after the Sandusky scandal broke are not going to change their minds because of a book. 

It will be fascinating and compelling to get an inside look at Paterno like never before, and Posnanski is such a good writer, but the purpose of the book is where it starts to lose me.