STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WWJ/AP) – Joe Paterno, who racked up more wins than anyone else in major college football but was fired from Penn State amid a child sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 85. Paterno’s family released a statement Sunday morning announcing his death.
After learning of Paterno’s death, University of Michigan Associate Athletic Director of Media Relations, David Ablauf, spoke live on WWJ Newsradio 950. Ablauf has had interaction with Paterno over the years between U of M and Penn State games. In Ablauf’s view, what did Paterno mean to college football?
“It’s obviously a shocking announcement, you know, you talk about someone who has more wins than anyone else in the history of college football,” Ablauf said. “You know, it’s unfortunate the way things transpired over the last couple of months but, you know, Joe Paterno definitely has left a big place in college football for what he accomplished.”
What kind of guy was he?
“He was very engaging. He could tell a story. He always had a thousand stories. He was a very funny, engaging individual. He had a great perspective on things — win, lose, draw. He was very much an interesting individual.”
What kind of impact did he leave on the Big Ten?
“I think when he came in it was 1994 and his team went undefeated and went to a Rose Bowl and won the Rose Bowl. So I think right out of the gates, they had a great team. Certainly someone who … our players, our coaches always enjoying playing and respected. Penn State was always known for being a team similar to Michigan.”
University of Michigan Football Radio Analyst and former player Jim Brandstatter also weighed in on Paterno’s legacy:
“Joe’s legacy is tied up with what has happened in the last six months,” Brandstatter said. “I mean that — it’s hard to get beyond that because that’s, you know, what everybody’s been talking about. Prior to the problems that Penn State and Joe has had with his relationship and how he handled the Jerry Sandusky thing, he was an untouchable icon in collegiate football.”