Paterno's abbreviated 2011 season was his 62nd on the Penn State coaching staff, which gave him the record for most seasons for any football coach at a single university. The 2009 season was Paterno's 44th as head coach of the Nittany Lions, passing Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most years as head coach at a single institution in Division I.
Paterno was known for his gameday image—thick glasses, rolled-up pants (by his admission, to save on cleaning bills), white socks and Brooklyn-tinged speech. Reflecting the growth in Penn State's stature during his tenure, Beaver Stadium was expanded six times during his tenure, increasing in size from 46,284 in 1966 to 106,572 in 2001.
In 1995, Paterno apologized for a tirade directed at Rutgers then-head coach Doug Graber at the end of a nationally televised game. Paterno was accused of "making light of sexual assault" in 2006 by the National Organization for Women which called for his resignation, though Penn State later categorized this incident as being "taken out of context" and never seriously considered asking for Paterno's resignation. Paterno also was involved in a road rage incident in 2007.
As Penn State football struggled from 2000 to 2004, with an overall 26–33 record in those years, Paterno became the target of criticism from some Penn State faithful. Many in the media attributed Penn State's struggles to Paterno's advancing age. With no apparent plans to retire, contingents of fans and alumni began calling for him to step down. Paterno rebuffed all of this and stated he would fulfill his contract which would expire in 2008.
Paterno announced in a speech in Pittsburgh on May 12, 2005, that he would consider retirement if the 2005 football team had a disappointing season. "If we don't win some games, I've got to get my rear end out of here", Paterno said in a speech at the Duquesne Club. "Simple as that". However, Penn State finished the season with a record of 11–1 and were champions of the Big Ten in 2005. They defeated Florida State 26–23 in triple overtime in the 2006 Orange Bowl. In 2012 the conference championship and Orange Bowl victory were disallowed by the NCAA.
In 2008, due to a litany of football players' off-the-field legal problems, including 46 Penn State football players having faced 163 criminal charges according to an ESPN analysis of Pennsylvania court records and reports dating to 2002, ESPN questioned Joe Paterno's and the university's control over the Penn State football program by producing and airing an ESPN's Outside the Lines feature covering the subject. Paterno was criticized for his response dismissing the allegations as a "witch hunt", and chiding reporters for asking about problems.
The Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) revealed Paterno's salary in November 2007: $512,664. He was paid $490,638 in 2006. The figure was not inclusive of other compensation, such as money from television and apparel contracts as well as other bonuses that Paterno and other football bowl subdivision coaches earned, said Robert Gentzel, SERS communications director. The release of these amounts can only come at the university's approval, which Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said will not happen. "I'm paid well, I'm not overpaid," Paterno said during an interview with reporters Wednesday before the salary disclosure. "I got all the money I need".
Read more about this topic: Joe Paterno
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