The Dye-Log: Sad Ending For Great Coach

Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about coaching legend Joe Paterno.

For the last several months there has been a huge amount of news coverage about the Penn State football program and the late Joe Paterno, the university's long-time Hall of Fame coach.


I don't know all the particulars and I would imagine probably just a handful of people really know exactly what happened, and exactly how it happened. I do know Joe Paterno and his wife, Sue. And, I've known them a long time.

Regardless of what happened at the end with Coach Paterno and Penn State, Joe Paterno and Sue have always stood for what's right. I hope that Joe went to his maker with a feeling that while mistakes might have been made, his life and deeds will be remembered for the countless good things he did.

Coach Paterno set examples through his life for thousands and thousands of students at Penn State and thousands of athletes who played for him. That doesn't need to be tarnished because he was a man who dedicated his life to helping young people and making Penn State a better university.

If everything we have read and heard regarding the allegations is true, what happened in the situation is so horrific that it's hard for me, and probably a lot of other Americans, to understand how something like that could take place.

Looking at the situation from afar, we can only assume how much more in-depth knowledge that Coach Paterno had about the allegations concerning abuse of children. One thing that is certain is that a lot of people are saddened to see this happen at the end of such an unbelievable coaching career. That is something that everyone who is close to him, everyone in his family, they're going to have to deal with it on their own terms.

Joe Paterno

If some of the accusations are true, and he did have knowledge that he withheld, that would be disappointing to learn, something I would chalk up as a tremendous mistake in the life of a great man. It might have been so horrific to Joe that he couldn't bring himself to grips with it to believe it was actually true.

Going forward I hope that in time any victims will have some closure to that part of their lives and certainly any guilty parties get their due under the law. I think until that happens there is still going to be kind of a dark cloud hanging there.

Coach Paterno's part in this whole story, and what's been portrayed so far, is proof that it doesn't make any difference how important you are, how big you are, that we are all vulnerable to something like this happening. We have got some great people in this country and Joe Paterno was one of them. Maybe this sad situation will provide a way for people to understand that they can be held accountable for actions, or inactions, regardless of what stature they have.

If anything good is going to come out of this situation it is that maybe it will prevent something like this from happening again. I hope and pray that is the case.

From the Mailbag:

Coach Dye,

My question for you to answer or write about is why don't teams like Auburn run a pro style offense when they get to a short yardage like 3rd and 2 or 4th and 1? Why don't teams in the red zone switch to the wishbone and pound their way into the end zone? I've always wondered this since you have had such good results running it when you ran it in the 80's. Hope you will put this to rest for me once and for all.


Michael York

I think the answer to that can be found in what happened the previous year when Auburn had such a great running quarterback, who was also an outstanding passer playing behind a senior-dominated offensive line. Auburn was really good in short yardage situations and in the red zone, and I think that has more to do with personnel than what formation you are running.

In my coaching career we were always a running football team with play-action passes so it wasn't that big a change to go to an unbalanced line with a big back, heavy set formation when we were in short yardage situations. We didn't have quarterbacks who carried the ball a lot in short yardage situations and scored a lot of touchdowns, but we had great running backs like Brent Fullwood, Bo Jackson, Stacy Danley, James Joseph, James Bostic and Stephen Davis carrying the football, which is why we had a lot of success getting into the end zone when we got close to the goal line.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

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