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Say it ain’t Joe

October 14, 2010

Joe Paterno has been a constant on the sideline at Penn State for 61 years. His life has been spent developing young men into community and business leaders, teachers, coaches, lawyers, and the list goes on. Oh and he has two national championships, five undefeated seasons, and countless All-Americans. He and his wife have donated more than a million dollars back to the University and he still preaches that you need to be good student first then focus on football.

And what I am going to say next might shock you. He should retire.

I’m not just saying this because Penn State is fielding an uncompetitive, boring, and flat out bad football team but because the team lacks leadership. I’m not faulting the players. The same man who used to grab a player’s facemask as they walked off the field, the same man who paced the sidelines barking out orders, and the same man who oozed confidence looks tired, old, and out of touch.

In all fairness I am obviously not at practices, team meetings, or locker room pep talks, but the team has no identity. If his main goal is still to give these kids the best chance at winning both in the classroom and on the field, he has lost the later. You don’t win 397 games with an attitude built around quitting, but it is time to hang up the black shoes.

Joe once said, “You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional.”

Sadly, by holding Joe to his own expectations, this is not happening in Happy Valley any more.

I can’t help but think about the parallels in business. The maturing leaders of companies who have lost the pulse of their surroundings, the tenured lifer who is change resistant, and the executive comfortable with status quo. They become gatekeepers for growth and they do so in such a fashion that can literally tear down the walls around them.

I thankfully have only had to fire one person in my career. It was hard, it was uncomfortable, and yet it was the right thing to do. Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest and most unpopular ones. And time and time again those decisions aren’t made. Those businesses who change out of want are the ones creating the curve, the ones who change out of necessity, change because they can’t yet see the curve.

So Coach Paterno, thank you. For a kid who grew up in central Pennsylvania I have bought into the way you run a program. I agree being a good person always comes first, my kids will win and lose with class, and if I ever coach, you better believe we’ll treat our opponents with respect. But it is time. Impart your legacy on a new staff, let them take your foundation and build on it, and when 108,000+ fans cheer, “We are…Penn State” know you had a huge part of that tradition.

 

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8 comments

  1. The most overrated coach in the history of sports. Don’t forget to take Jay and the rest of the sycophantic staff with you when you’re gone.


    • Franz,

      I appreciate your comment. I see your from the long line of Poopenheimer’s of central Pennsylvania. You don’t happen to be related to Ima or Anita Poopenheimer?


  2. Joe –

    Thank you for molding me into a fine young man.

    LaVon

    P.S. Why don’t you write?


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Ashley and Paul Ashley, Eric Eicher. Eric Eicher said: Know when to hang it up. What businesses can learn from Joe Paterno and his objection to retirement. http://bit.ly/c9GP7b #pennstatefootball […]


  4. Hi Ike –
    Maybe Joe should be replaced by Lou Holtz? Without Alumni support either way, they’ll go with the same game plan until there’s an Alumni call to action.


    • I agree, plus they just jacked ticket prices. When the product doesn’t match the cost or value, big trouble.


  5. I AGREE JOES GOTTA GO…..ACTUALLY HE’S ALREADY GONE


    • Boy if that’s not the truth.



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