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Posted on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke on Joe Paterno's retirement: 'I have the utmost respect for Coach Paterno'

By Kyle Meinke


Penn State football coach Joe Paterno arrives home Wednesday. Paterno has decided to retire at the end of the season, his long career brought down by his failure to do more about an allegation of child sex abuse against a former assistant.

AP Photo

For two days, Michigan football coach Brady Hoke refused to comment on the alleged child-sex scandal at Penn State.

But in the wake of the Nittany Lions' legendary head coach, Joe Paterno, announcing today he would retire at the end of the season, Hoke broke his silence.

He opened his scheduled Wednesday news conference by saying he'd like to make a brief statement, and it went like this:

"The one thing I can tell ya is I have the utmost respect for what Coach Paterno has done on the field. It’s really a situation that’s obviously unfortunate, but it’s one that does not affect us and we have to worry about Michigan, and the decisions we make, and getting ready for this week, going to Illinois and winning a football game."

The Wolverines visit Illinois at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC.

When Hoke later was asked for an anecdote or personal memory of Paterno — the first-year coach also was a Michigan assistant from 1995-2001 — he declined to comment.

"We're not talking about that," he said.

Paterno, the Penn State football coach who preached success with honor for half a century but whose legend was shattered by a child sex abuse scandal, said he was "absolutely devastated" by the case, in which his one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years, including at the Penn State football complex.


Come back to at noon Thursday for a live chat with Kyle Meinke. He'll recap the Wolverines' loss at Iowa, discuss news that emerged this week and preview the game against Illinois on Saturday.
It's a scandal that is rocking college football.

The decision to retire by the man affectionately known as "Joe Pa" brings to an end one of the most storied coaching careers, not just in college football, but in all sports. Paterno won 409 games, a record for major college football, and is in the middle of his 46th year as coach.

His figure patrolling the sideline — thick-rimmed glasses and windbreaker, tie and khaki pants — was as unmistakable at Penn State as its classic blue and white uniforms and the name Happy Valley, a place where no one came close to Paterno's stature.

"The Big Ten trophy is the Stagg-Paterno Trophy, and I think that says it all, in how much he’s given to college football," Michigan senior defensive lineman Mike Martin said.

Paterno said the school's Board of Trustees, which had been considering his fate, should "not spend a single minute discussing my status" and has more important matters to address.

The beloved 84-year-old Paterno has been engulfed by outrage that he did not do more to stop Sandusky after a graduate assistant came to Paterno in 2002 after allegedly having seen the former assistant coach molesting a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State showers.

"This is a tragedy," Paterno said in a statement. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

Paterno met with his coaching staff and players in the football building at Penn State for about 10 to 15 minutes Wednesday, a team meeting players described as being very emotional.

Paterno met with his coaching staff and players for about 10 to 15 minutes in an auditorium of the football facility. Standing at a podium, he told them he was leaving and broke down in tears.

Players gave him a standing ovation when he walked out.

Junior quarterback Stephon Morris said some players also were nearly in tears as Paterno spoke.

"I still can't believe it," Morris said. "I've never seen Coach Paterno like that in my life."

Asked what was the main message of Paterno's talk, Morris said: "Beat Nebraska."

The retirement announcement came three days before Penn State hosts Nebraska in its final home game of the season, a day set aside to honor seniors on the team.

Penn State has bounced back from a mediocre 2010 season to go 8-1 this year, with its only loss to powerhouse Alabama. The Nittany Lions are No. 12 in the AP college football poll.

"It’s something that’s been talked about a lot, it’s all over the place, but we as a team haven’t really discussed it much," Michigan offensive lineman Patrick Omameh said. "We’re just trying to keep our focus on the task at hand, and that’s Illinois this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

There's more to this story than meets the eye ... there always is. There ALWAYS is. The press and others have had their opportunity to puff their chests and wax on righteously about what should have been done ... but again, in perfect 20/20 hindsight. Several years ago I served as jury foreman on a criminal case involving child pornography. It was one of the most emotionally wrenching thing I've ever had to do. I had to wrestle mightily to keep emotions in check and exercise as much reasoned thinking as possible based on the evidence. As much as I would have hoped the case was cut-and-dry and a verdict easily reached, such was not the case. The evidence was in many places ambiguous. And while it would have been easy to just give into the gut emotions -- "The guy's a creep ... fry him." -- it would NOT have been the right thing to do as a jury member tasked with establishing a verdict based on the evidence and "beyond a reasonable doubt." There's more to this story ... some element that hasn't been revealed or has been mis-reported. But summary judgment has been rendered based on the emotional appeal of purging those involved. Careless words are being thrown about as if they are fact. We live in a time where emotion trumps reason, and facts are often inconvenient. Having gone through that jury duty as foreman I can say with near certainty that we should all pray we NEVER find ourselves caught in something where a jury trial is necessary. Because I can assure you the reasoning that took place behind those closed doors was anything but logical, rational or reasoned.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

Hokey-learn to keep your mouth shut-your purported respect shows a lack of judgement. Ah yes-your respect is for Jo Pa's football legacy but what about the fact that he was privy to information about the rape of a young boy and did nothing to hold the perpetrator responsible? he did the least amount possible for this child in order to protect his beloved Penn State. Shame!


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

He's been grilled on this matter for a week. Saying he respected what Paterno has done "on the field" is not offensive, imo. You try standing up in front of a group of reporters grilling you for a week and try to say everything perfect. Try doing that when NOT in front of reporters, for that matter. Give it a break...unless EVERYTHING you say is ALWAYS perfect.

Kai Petainen

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 5:36 a.m.

Paterno and President are out. Sad..... when a school feels that it can be above the law and neglect the law.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 5:27 a.m.

Hoke should have stayed with the "no comment". It's that deference coaches have for one another that allowed this groteque situation to happen. Paterno and Mcquery and the administration covering for Sandusky's rape of a child and allowing him to continue his molesting of children. . Hoke's "I have the highest respect for..." is that same BS of coaches saying only good things about one another. He could have just said :no comment and left it at that. If he does have the highest respect for Paterno than Hoke has very low standards. No comment. No comment. No comment. How hard is that.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

@azwolverine -- exactly. Also interesting how hindsight is always perfect 20/20.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

Interesting how we all know exactly the perfect things to say when critiquing others. That's why we're all perfect and mistake free in everything we ever say and have said to people in our lives, right?

Terry Star21

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 4:26 a.m.

The Board of Directors need to release Joe Paterno asap.....when it comes to the point where you're distracting your players, team and University - it's time to go. Let the law or the government determine Paterno's innocence or guilt. Other than that this whole mess is the saddest thing in college football ever heard of !

Terry Star21

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 4:28 a.m.

Whoops sorry people...I didn't read he was fired before my comment - long day.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 3:49 a.m.

That Mr. Paterno thought he could dictate when he would exit is even more evidence of his arrogance. If he had any class or honor, he would have resigned on his own. On Monday. On Sunday when the story broke. But he waited three days, until Wednesday evening, for the PSU board to fire him.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 3:19 a.m.

Sbnation dot com is reporting that Paterno was fired tonight at the Board meeting and will not coach another game. Penn State's president was also fired. Glad to see Penn State is cleaning house after these horrific events. Very unfortunate but necessary.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 4:59 a.m.

Sally: Agree that it was necessary, but I do not characterize any of this as "glad" or "happy". I am so sad (only other words that come to mind are horrified and stunned) over this injection of "real life problems" into our fantasy world of football. All I can say is "sad". The board actions are necessary and correct.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

Very, very sad that after 61 years, Paterno is ruined in the last month of his career...through no fault of his own. He is the big name that was dragged into this mess by the actions of a very disturbed person. Not fair to be taken down at the end of career in which he helped so many people, the right way, by the actions of someone else.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

I think your statement is a very common feeling, but I keep coming back to the "moral compass" thing, though. And that moral compass was seriously flawed for Joe Paterno if events as detailed by the Attorney General are accurate. At the end of the day, people in leadership are accountable for their actions (or inaction), and in this case, it wasn't a lost recruit, or a fudging of the grade, but actual physical and psychological harm to helpless children by a football insider, a close associate of Paterno's who had full access to PSU football and campus. And Paterno reportedly was knowledgeable about the crime, the potential for more, and did little more than push it up the chain of command to get it off his lap. I would hope that in the same situation, I would have at least pursued it after giving the proper chain of command time to act. So in the end, Paterno was dragged into it by a graduate assistant, but his own actions and inactions were clearly accessories in allowing the continued alleged abuse and alleged crimes to occur (assuming what we have heard is true). Let's not let him off the hook so easily because he has had a long and distinguished career.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 10:53 p.m.

John Wayne Gacy was a community volunteer and a pretty good party clown. But some of his other activities pretty much negated those attributes.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

Well in the end this matters a great deal for ALL of higher ed.....see what happens when you HIDE things and cover up things? Even the smallest secrets covered by an administration can come back to bite you. And the public then thinks....'What else have they hidden'? Totally benign subject compared to this but UM hiding the inter-departmental charges made against their police chief and paying him off to leave etc....that was a good example of a public institution thumbing their nose at the public all the while taking our money! It needs to STOP. And that lesson should be learned by UM and every public school in America.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

The headline is misleading and unfair to Coach Hoke. There's an important difference between: "I have the utmost respect for Coach Paterno" (the headline) and "I have the utmost respect for what Coach Paterno has done on the field" (what's quoted in the article)


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:44 p.m.

They need hits to sell advertising, of course the qoute is incomplete. Where have you been, with your head in the sand in Happy Valley?

Hawaiian Neal

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

@TheOSU- You sound like someone that actually attended a college! Thank you for restoring my faith that there are other educated people on these boards. Like I said in my comment, "It's just sad." nothing else, just sad.

Hawaiian Neal

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

It's sad.... just really sad. I don't know what was said in any of the exchanges between any of the principles and if there was any miscommunication. i.e. something like, "Coach I saw him f'ng with a kid in the locker room." can mean many things to many people. I do know that a lot of people take great pride in tearing down people and places that are institutions. Look at what happened to TOSU and UM. It makes people feel better about their pitiful lives and failures to do so. It's sad for the 'kids', it's sad for the players, it's sad for the coach, it's sad for the school, it's sad for the Big 'Ten of 12', and it's sad for college sports. Those finding people guilty and sentencing them before the trials are just as bad. I'm not a PSU guy, as a matter of fact, I couldn't tell you who their QB is. I do know the program's traditions and history though and what's alleged to have happened is just sad. Those that take pleasure in stories like this are just as sick as Sandusky.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

Blueiniowa: Hoke's comments couldn't have been more benign. I'm a Buckeye and even I can't find fault with what he said. He said that he respects "what Coach Paterno has done on the field." Anyone who knows anything about college football has to respect what he has DONE ON THE FIELD. To deny that, is pure ignorance. He did not say he respected the man, or his decision or anything else.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Well said.

jeff blue

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

USA Today Sports has just changed the line on Michigan @ Illinios; the game is +0 or "pick - em" game. We did have 3 points.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

As with most events, the complexities of the situation are more than "meets the eye." 1) Why did the grad asst report the event to Paterno in the first place? Why didn't he go directly to the police? If he had witnessed a different crime (murder, theft, ect.), would he have gone to Paterno? If I saw a crime while at work, it would never occur to me to report it to my boss/employer without calling the police first. 2) I'm not defending this point, I'm just making an observation: Colleges/universities, like the Catholic church, are unusual institutions that sometimes act above the law. If the university fails to investigate, then is no crime was committed and therefore no need exists to inform the outside authorities. The argument is inherently circular. The ultimate "don't look, don't tell." 3) Admitted, Sandusky appears guilty as sin. However, he still is entitled to a presumption of innocence until a jury reaches a verdict. Now, if JoePa, or anyone from PSU, notified the police based on a rumor AND that rumor was eventually found to be false, would liability exist for making the accusation? We live in a universe where a public person's career and reputation can be destroyed merely by an accusation. 4) Where's the NCAA in all this mess? You mean to tell me there are no violations in this entire affair? Let me get this straight -- players get free tattoos and the coach fails to crucify the kids and the entire program (and the coach) go down in flames. However, an assistant coach sexually violates multiple children while another coach watches on university property and no rules are violated. Some rule book!!!


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

@treetowncartel -- which is why, I suspect, there is pressure to identify and purge those individuals now that this has come to light. Not simply as means of holding them personally accountable ... but also as a means of putting some distance between the University and the events. One shoe has dropped -- criminal indictment against Sandusky. The other shoe has not yet dropped ... civil liability suits against the named individuals or the University. It's coming ... someone is going to sue someone for civil damages.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

I think one problem is they, and I mean everyone of the higherups at the university, kept letting the fox back in the hen house when they knew he left with feathers in his mouth.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.

The NCAA investigates schools who have violated NCAA bylaws. They don't have anything to do with violations of US law. The NCAA has absolutely no business getting involved with this. What happened at Penn State is of course morally worse than what happened at OSU, and no one is saying otherwise. But only one involves violating NCAA bylaws. However, it won't take NCAA sanctions for this to negatively influence Penn State. I'm sure the football program and perhaps the school at large will suffer from this for years to come, simply as a result of a perception problem and the hurting of the "brand" that is Penn State.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

I agree with Don AZ about the GA's role. As to point #3, I would generally agree except my understanding is that they already knew about the problem before the shower incident. Isn't that why Sandusky was let go a few years earlier? If so, then notifying the authorities would carry much more weight than being simple hearsay. It would've been pretty easy to show the alleged incident as being consistent with an ongoing pattern of behavior.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

"Why did the grad asst report the event to Paterno in the first place? Why didn't he go directly to the police?" Working through the chain of command is EXACTLY what should be done. I work for a very large multi-national and I can assure you we are told in no uncertain terms the FIRST contact we make when we encounter issues of ethics or lawbreaking is our manager. No exceptions. The problem here -- based on the Grand Jury report -- is that key individuals in the chain of command failed to make the contact with the law enforcement authorities. That's where the first breakdown originated. The complaint against Paterno is that he, once he reported up to HIS superiors, failed to monitor the situation and insure, on his own accord, that his superiors did the right thing.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

OK--we don't know all the facts yet though it seems certain that Sandusky is a chronic pedophile and abuser from all that has been uncovered. But, come on now. To hold Mike McQueary to the fire is not totally fair. In 2001, he was a new graduate assistant, having just graduated from PSU and been on a team that Sandusky was coaching (though on opposite side of the ball). He is from State College and grew up idolizing Joe Paterno, PSU football, and was their QB. He was young. Putting all of these things together, I'm certain he was shell-shocked beyond action. He probably could not have assaulted Sandusky right then and there if he wanted to (just guessing) because he was probably numb with disgust and fear. He did the right thing to go his idol, legendary Joe Paterno, who would take care of it because he takes care of everything. Heck, Paterno is so important that he presented the nomination speech for George Bush in 1988. McQueary doesn't completely get off the hook because he was a witness to an alleged crime and apparently didn't follow through beyond Joe Pa, but I think if you look at his position, his age, and his dependence on others, you can't fault him.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

I had a hard time finding actual facts regarding what Paterno did or didn't know, so I link this for anyone else in the same boat. (See &quot;Victim 2.&quot;) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

Google works. The Grand Jury report has been very easy to find since day one. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

Brady Hoke also has respect for what Jim Tressel did on the playing field. Expect all of the head coaches to follow except for Bret B at WI. Too had Hoke was forced to make a comment, not his arm was twisted. I would have rather not heard anything from anybody at Michigan. The only comment should have been &quot;No comment&quot;.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

@LS -- agree, but what a bind for Hoke. The phrase &quot;no comment&quot; has come to imply a certain evasiveness in this day and age. In some ways, Hoke might have been better served by going to his &quot;Aw shucks&quot; mode ... just ask that nobody ask him about it because &quot;he's just a ball coach and that's all I know.&quot;


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

Hoke very carefully said he respects what Paterno has done &quot;on the field.&quot; It was the authors of this article who took it out of that context. This scandal has nothing to do with the football teams he has coached and the quality of those wins. They are separate issues. He could be an axe murderer; doesn't make him any less good of a football coach. That's all Hoke was getting at.

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

blueiniowa's, comments are EXACTLY why, a coach should NEVER make a comment, about a sitiutaion in another school. This stuff NEVER ends. Everyone (including posters, here) has an 'agenda' and wants Hoke to support whatever 'agenda' they happen to have. Hoke cannot win, nor can Brandon. MRunner...I agree that Jim Tressel has also shamed the league, and sadly, MOST of the culture of corruption at THEosu, has been covered over. The recent Tatoo incident, is only the 'tip of the iceberg' down there Here's betting they escape with a 'hand slap'. We can only imagine the consternation that is going on, at the league offices the past few days. Throw in the obvious 'thuggary' at msu, and the repeated incompetence of the offciating crews this season, and Delany must be going nuts. All Hoke should do right now, is figure out how in the world he can beat Illinois. He should keep his mouth shut.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

&quot;I would have rather not heard anything from anybody at Michigan. The only comment should have been &quot;No comment&quot;. EXACTLY! What the hell Hoke?! You don't talk about respecting somebody who appears to have enabled child rape because his company would 'look bad.' Just keep your trap shut on this. I hope somebody over in AA came unglued over hoke's comments.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

Paterno said the school's Board of Trustees, which had been considering his fate, should &quot;not spend a single minute discussing my status&quot; and has more important matters to address. Still preaching from the bully pulpit, shame on him. the board does what the board wants and should do, not what JoePa says to do.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

By saying the BoT shouldn't waste anymore time on his fate, Paterno is stating he, not the BoT is dictating how and when he leaves. That is hubris, and the decision should not be his to make. Paterno forefited any right, moral or otherwise, to dictate his terms when he turned a blind eye to the raping of children that occured within the womb of his football program.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

No, JoePa is wrong and should have tendered in his resignation right now so the Board of Trustees has one less issue.

David Vande Bunte

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

Agreed with JAC. I think all Paterno did was remove the issue from the table by volunteering to retire. It wasn't hubris.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

While I don't know his exact intent, I would like to think that Paterno meant that the Board of Trustees shouldn't waste anymore time on his fate and should instead focus on the other more important issues surrounding the situation. For example, the children attacked by Sandusky, the school's completely bungled reaction to knowledge of the situation, etc. I highly doubt he was dictating what their next move should be regarding his employment. That's really a very small matter in the grand scheme of things.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

That, right there. That hubris. That is indicative of exactly why the PSU BoT should demand his immediate resignation.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

&quot;Upmost?&quot; Nice headline, guys. The more I read about this issue, the more angry I become. Paterno is a god in Happy Valley. If he had followed through in the slightest, it would have stopped this abuse immediately. I'm kinda glad Hoke isn't getting involved, making the minimum noise about this, because Michigan doesn't need the distraction. But I would certainly respect him a little more if he made a strong statement.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

Yes, Hoke should have been more bold and upstanding like showing concern for those victims involved instead of saying, &quot;it doesn't affect the rest of us&quot;.