Legendary Coach Joe Paterno's Future Still Up in the Air at Penn State

Justin BellContributor IAugust 11, 2008

When Joe Paterno was asked whether or not this would be his last year coaching, he replied, "I think I could coach another hundred years."  This is upsetting to many Nittany Lion fans who think that Old Joe's prime is long past.

Others still stick by the legendary coach, arguing that the football program would be nowhere if it wasn't for Coach Paterno.

Although this statement may be true, the argument that he is holding the team back from being great seems stronger every year.

The latest addition to this notion came when the news hit that two defensive tackles, Chris Baker and Phil Taylor, were kicked off the team for being involved in multiple fights during the 2007 season.

This sparked reporters to question what exactly was going on in Happy Valley.  According to Pennsylvania public criminal records, 46 Penn State players had been charged with at least 1 offense since the 2002 season.

News of these statistics was brought to the public's attention, and Nittany Lion fans began to scrutinize Paterno's control of the program even more.

But was this coincidence, or was it the result of risky recruiting decisions by Paterno and his staff?

From 2000-2004, the Nittany Lions had an unheard-of four losing seasons.  Although Coach Paterno continuously denies it, some say that the coaching staff recruited athletically gifted players that showed signs of poor character.  This may have been the cause of all the off the field incidents and the dismissal of a number of Lions starters.

On the bright side, Penn State has performed well on the field for the past few seasons, including a Big Ten Championship and Orange Bowl Victory.  You can still catch Coach Paterno showing signs of youth as he sprints across the sideline to give an official an earful over a call that his thick bifocals can barely bring into focus.

Paterno is entering the last year of his current contract and so far has not been offered an extension.  Penn State has not commented on whether on not it will be renewed, but Paterno shows no signs of planning to depart.

Coach Paterno is truly a National Treasure and should be treated rightfully so.  Hopefully Penn State will have the decency to let the Hall of Famer leave on his own terms.

As for the fans, their complaints will only be noise as long as Coach Paterno continues to have winning seasons and big bowl appearances.