responsible as anyone for Penn State's reputation as Linebacker U. If there
was a consistent theme linking Mr. Paterno's 46 teams, it was that most had at
least one outstanding linebacker.
Players like Ham, Shane Conlin, Greg Buttle, Andre Collins, LaVar Arrington, Paul Posluszny, Sean Lee, and NaVorro Bowman were not only all-Americans, but high NFL draft picks.
While Mr. Paterno's players were not immune from trouble -- especially in his last decade as coach -- Penn State football managed to maintain its reputation as one of the most upright among the big-name powers.
There were no NCAA sanctions and, at Mr. Paterno's insistence, the Nittany Lions refrained from taunting and on-the-field celebrations. Their famously plain uniforms also contributed to that squeaky-clean image.
His teams wore virtually unadorned white or blue-and-white uniforms, white helmets with a single blue stripe down the middle, and black shoes -- though in the '90s a tiny Nike swoosh would be added to the jerseys.
Mr. Paterno himself kept the same game-day look for decades, the horn-rimmed glasses, the khakis with rolled-up cuffs, and black cleats. He always attributed the look to a boyhood glimpse at the New York Yankees' crisp and simple pinstripes, an outfit that for him symbolized power and efficiency.
As times changed, he remained proudly behind them, especially when it came to technology. He scorned computers and cellphones and once called Twitter "Tweedle-Dee."
"I couldn't download a jar of peanut butter," he said.
A financial behemoth
Over the years Mr. Paterno earned countless coaching honors, honorary degrees, and awards. In 1986, Sports Illustrated made him its Sportsman of the Year.
It was about that time when Penn State administrators, realizing that replacing a coach who cast such a large shadow would not be easy, began to ponder a future without Mr. Paterno, then 60.
The coach frequently said that he'd probably retire in "five years or so." But the more logical and imminent that possibility seemed, the harder he appeared to fight it. Finally, his mantra became: "As long as I enjoy it and we're having success, I'm going to keep coaching."
He briefly held the position as athletic director. But as that job, and college sports in general, grew more complex and financially driven, he yielded the reins. Not surprisingly, the ADs who followed, like longtime friend Jim Tarman and ex-Nittany Lions ball boy Tim Curley, all had strong Paterno connections.
Beaver Stadium was expanded at least six times in his coaching tenure, reaching a current capacity of 106,572. As it grew and the budget rose, it became increasingly imperative that coaches win and tickets sell.
By 2011, Mr. Paterno was earning more than $1 million a year -- though that still left him in the lower ranks among coaches at big-time schools. Penn State, meanwhile, spent $116 million on athletics, an amount greatly ameliorated by the $52 million profit football generated.
His final decades were consumed by the school's move to the Big Ten in 1993, by his pursuit of coaching milestones, and by fund-raising. Given his pristine image and the persuasive powers he'd displayed on the recruiting trail for decades, Mr. Paterno was a formidable fund-raiser.
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