When Joe Paterno took the field for the first time as Penn State's head coach in 1966, Dick MacPherson was on the other sideline as an assistant for Maryland. MacPherson moved on to be the head coach at Massachusetts, Syracuse and the NFL's New England Patriots and came to see Joe Paterno as not only a respected colleague but as a friend. On Wednesday, MacPherson said it was hard to hear that Joe Paterno had agreed to step down as Penn State's head coach at the end of this season.
"Joe Paterno is a legacy that will never be duplicated so he doesn't have to worry about a thing - and I think that everybody in football respected Joe Paterno for who he was," said MacPherson.
MacPherson said it has been hard to watch the scandal that has enveloped Penn State. On Wednesday, Paterno said in a statement that he wished he had done more for the young victims his former assistant coach is alleged to have abused.Penn State's athletic director and a vice president were charged with perjury and failing to report possible abuse. The Patriot News in Harrisburg, PA is reporting that Penn State president Graham Spanier may be forced out by the university's Board of Trustees. MacPherson said he supported Paterno and his accomplishments but MacPherson said there was no defense for former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky if the charges are true.
"It's just a terrible thing but by the same token he's going out the villain that he is. He's going out the way he should go out after what he's done," said MacPherson.
Joe Paterno, is a college football icon if there ever was one and MacPherson said the winningest coach in Division I history would be remembered for all the good he had done and not for the scandal that rocked Penn State.
"I just hope his health is good, I hope this crisis doesn't affect him in any way and he finally has the chance to be a father and a husband that he's never really had before," said MacPherson.
Joe Paterno has been under pressure to resign immediately by many in the Penn State community but MacPherson said he hopes Paterno is allowed to finish out his final season.