Joe Paterno to Coach from the Press Box Against Alabama: When's It Time To Quit?

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst ISeptember 8, 2011

Joe Paterno will once again be coaching from the press box on Saturday when his Nittany Lions take on Alabama
Joe Paterno will once again be coaching from the press box on Saturday when his Nittany Lions take on AlabamaRonald Martinez/Getty Images

For about the last decade or so, we’ve been asking the same question at the end of every college football season.

Is this the year Penn State head coach Joe Paterno will finally hang up the headset and trot off into the Happy Valley sunset?

And like the ageless wonder that he is, each and every year, Paterno simply scoffs at the question and says he’s coming back.

Remarkably, this is now Paterno’s 46th season as the head man of the Penn State football program.

The 84-year-old coach has compiled a record 402 wins during his coaching career, easily solidifying his status as a college football immortal.

Paterno is the type of coach that we'll most likely never see again in the sport.

While you have to appreciate Paterno’s longevity and commitment to his school, the sad part is that it’s starting to look like he’s held on to the reins for just a little too long.

Many have openly wondered if, at this point, Paterno is more of a figurehead than an actual coach.

It’s a fair accusation, considering Paterno has done a lot of his game-day coaching from the press box in recent years due to various health reasons.

And that’s where Paterno will once again be for this Saturday’s big showdown with Alabama at Beaver Stadium.

Paterno sustained injuries to his hip and shoulder after getting run over by wide receiver Deion Smith during a practice back in August, which has since left him largely immobile.

This isn’t the first time Paterno has been injured by a collision with a player either.

In a game against Wisconsin in 2006, a Badgers linebacker fell into Paterno’s leg in a sideline collision, leaving the coach with damage to both his shin and his knee.

It’s incidents like those that make you wonder if maybe it’s time for Paterno to finally wave goodbye to the Beaver faithful and call it a day.

Because of all that he has done for Penn State throughout the years, Joe Paterno has earned a lifetime pass to coach forever; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean he has to.

It’s clear that Paterno is no longer in charge of the day-to-day operations for the Nittany Lions and that he has now become more of a symbol than anything else.

You can’t help but appreciate his determination to keep going, but it’s getting to the point now where that determination is starting to look more and more like stubbornness.

Would you rather remember the image of Joe Paterno as the stoic leader being carried around on the arms of his players after a big bowl win, or would you rather remember him as the old man with the bad legs being shuttled around in a gold cart?

Coach Paterno has had a remarkable career, but it’s time for him to let us look back on it and appreciate it, instead of trying to keep extending it.

Joe Paterno is a legend, but like every other legend in sports, the day always comes when it's time to wave goodbye to the crowd and call it a career.

It’s time for Joe Paterno to do the same and make his 46th season his final one.

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