You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 4:48 p.m.

Joe Paterno explains how marriage works when you're with a football coach

By Michael Rothstein

The key to marriage is different for everyone. For some, it's patience. For others, it is all about communication.

That's just for normal, every day folks. Imagine being married to a guy like Penn State coach Joe Paterno, a man who is a legend in his business and an icon in and around University Park, Pa.


Penn State football coach Joe Paterno laughs with reporters during his weekly news conference on Tuesday. Penn State plays at Michigan on Saturday. (Photo: Associated Press)

That's the job Sue Paterno has had for over 40 years. How have they stayed together this long in a profession that is a grind on everyone involved in a football family?

"It takes a woman who has some confidence in herself and her ability to bring up a family and handle the things, a lot of the nitpicking that goes on when things don’t go well, let it go over your head and forget about it," Joe Paterno said on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference Tuesday. "To make the marriages go as a coach’s wife in a high pressure job like you’re talking about, you’ve got to be able to talk to each other."

See, and here you probably thought it might have been something different, something of a higher power. Nah, it's just the same as every other marriage and successful relationship.

Communication is key.

Paterno's advice also brings to mind the words of wisdom given by another college football coach, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, about dating a year ago. You know, if you're in Lubbock, Texas, or Cody, Wyoming.

Paterno impressed with Michigan Paterno has watched Michigan on tape and he likes what he sees - which a team much improved from a season ago.

That's not a surprise considering the Wolverines went 3-9 a year ago, but what really stand out to him was their resiliency.

"They are doing a great job, playing with a lot of enthusiasm, they play right up to the last minute," Paterno said. "They were in games that at times you thought they’d be out of it and they’ve got a couple great quarterbacks. I think both those kids are really good and when No. 4 is healthy, the tailback, he’s a tough kid.

“…I think they’ve improved tremendously from last year and a very, very solid football team.”

Paterno and Michigan There was a time that Paterno could have ended up at Michigan. Then-athletic director Don Canham had spoken with Paterno about the job in Ann Arbor in 1968.

Instead, he hired Bo Schembechler and, well, it seemed to work out for pretty much everyone, especially since Paterno said Canham wrote him a letter once a year to say "Thanks," essentially for not coming. Yet there is still a question of whether or not Paterno would still coaching if he had moved to Ann Arbor.

"Well, depends," Paterno said in his weekly press conference. "If I could have gotten rid of some of the guys out there, I might have - in the press I might - I thought they were pretty tough on Rich (Rodriguez) last year, but that's beside the point."

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.