SI Cover and Article Excerpt

Penn State's legendary coach makes the lead page of Sports Illustrated for the second time. See the cover and read an excerpt of the article that Sports Illustrated sent to FOS.

The last time Penn State coach Joe Paterno made the cover of Sports Illustrated, for the Dec. 22, 1986 issue, his Nittany Lions went on to win a national championship.

Paterno is back on the front page of SI for the issue that mails this week. The headling says, "Yo, Joe. Going Great at 78, JOE PATERNO Has Penn State Back in the Big Time.

Inside his a feature story on Nittany Lion linebacker Paul Posluszny.

Here is an excerpt of the SI article on Joe Paterno and a glance back at the 1986 cover:


IN HIS 40 years at the helm at Penn State, coach Joe Paterno has had five undefeated seasons and won two national titles. But heading into this fall, he was widely lampooned as an anachronism in Coke-bottle glasses who had lost his ability to manage the modern game. The Nittany Lions had suffered through the worst two-year stretch of Paterno's tenure, during which they went 7-16, and they couldn't even crack the preseason top six in the Big Ten. At the conference's annual media day in Chicago, junior linebacker Paul Posluszny sat at a deserted table in a ballroom of the Hyatt Regency and watched as reporters and camera crews swarmed players and coaches from Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. The question posed most often to him was when he thought the 78-year-old Paterno should retire. "We're Penn State," Posluszny says, "and we were forgotten."

But nobody will soon forget what Paterno and the Nittany Lions have done this season. By beating Michigan State 31-22 last Saturday, Penn State ran its record to 10-1, clinched its first Big Ten championship in 11 years, gained its first BCS bid and retained an outside shot at JoePa's third and most improbable national title. Paterno accomplished all of this by defying his critics at every turn: He landed two of the country's top prospects in Justin King and Derrick Williams, then turned their 4.3 speed loose by using them as wideouts; and he transformed formerly underachieving quarterback Michael Robinson into Happy Valley's version of Texas's Vince Young, a player capable of winning games with his arm or his legs. As the wins have mounted, Paterno has insisted that he never changed a thing, that he was just a few playmakers away from winning again. Yet if any playmaker was emblematic of the program's resurrection it was Posluszny, a Butkus Award finalist who had spurned more than 20 other scholarship offers to join the proud tradition of Linebacker U, only to find it in a state of precipitous decline. He had been part of a solid defense last year, but it was unable to take chances because the offense was so anemic. This season, however, with a shutout no longer a requirement, Posluszny (Puz-LUZ-nee) has been both the leading tackler and the heartbeat of an attacking, fearsome unit that ranks among the best in the nation. Penn State has the sixth-most sacks, is 10th in points allowed, 11th against the run and 17th in total defense.


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