I vividly recall sitting in my room at Bucknell University nearly 19 years ago writing a letter to the Mirror in support of coach John Franco.
At that time, he was on the verge of having the school board strip him of the title of head football coach at Altoona Area High School and, as a man who had deeply impacted my life in a positive manner, I was compelled to support him.
On that occasion, I did not write to defend his knowledge of Xs and Os or his ability to teach the game (although I certainly could have and his 190-37 record over the last 18 years has borne out his knowledge and ability in those areas.)
Rather, I wrote in defense of him as a leader and mentor of young men - a coach who cared for his student-athletes as much, if not more, as students than as athletes, who saw and treated his student-athletes as people and not just players.
It was nearly two decades ago, but I believe I ended that letter saying something like "the school board could strip him of the title coach but to me and anyone who ever played for him he would always be Coach Franco."
I am confident that there are 18 teams worth of Tyrone football players who would validate the truisms I wrote that day. I am hopeful that, a decade from now, there will be 10 classes of Altoona football players who will do the same.
While no one can guarantee success on the field, I can guarantee that John Franco will once again succeed as the coach at Altoona High - succeed in touching in a positive manner the lives of the young men who have the privilege to play for him.
That is why he is and always be Coach Franco to me. It was an awful long time coming, but welcome home, Coach.
(Editor's note: The writer was an all-state receiver for Altoona Area High School in 1988.)
Franco welcome in Texas, too
I'm really, really sorry to hear about John Franco leaving Tyrone to return to Altoona.
Tyrone is my alma mater (1964), and Franco has done so much good for the young men in Tyrone over the years. During each football season that John has been there his performance, results and leadership have been a source of constant conversation between my mom, dad and myself every Saturday morning when I call them.
I'd like to thank him for all of the good he has done for the school and the Tyrone community as well and wish him nothing but the best in his new job.
Too bad he didn't want to move here to Texas, where the coaches' salary alone often ranges between $50,000 to $100,000 and in some cases even more. If he ever decides to make another move, we'd sure love to see him down here in Texas.
Before moving in 1976, I had heard a lot about high school football in Texas, and I immediately went to the local team's games. Football is everything down here, and the talent is unbelievable.
But what impresses you the most is watching these kids start to practice in August when the temperatures are in the 100s and the humidity is often just as high. I've yet to figure out how they do it.
Remembering JoePa ... the jogger
It's September 1972.
A PSU sophomore branch campus transfer new to University Park is pedaling a bicycle west on Park Avenue while holding onto a large instrument case.
A man in a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants jogs alongside him and strikes up a conversation, commenting upon the size of the instrument case.
He asks the student where he came from, where he was going, and the student replied "from Blue Band practice and going back to North Halls."
The man complimented the student on being in the Blue Band, wished the student good luck, and jogged away from the student on the bike.
When the student realized what occurred, the student lost control of the bike and the instrument and skidded on the berm of the road to an embarrassing halt.
The student was me, and the jogger was Joe Paterno.
Luckily, he didn't see me as I almost wiped out. I've never really told this story, but I'll never forget it.
May he rest in peace.
Legacy extends beyond field
I watch today all the major networks struggle with the Joe Paterno legacy. This is my conclusion: No one can comprehend.
Joe Paterno believed anyone could achieve greatness. Who wouldn't want that for their child? Therefore, most parents in the surrounding area instilled his values into their children.
I did not go to PSU, but I have been affected by the Joe Paterno logic and moral standards. We learned it at the supper table every night. During my brother's high school era, he went to PSU summer camp in the 1960s.
My dad scraped money to go to PSU games, and later became a contributor to gain better seats.
We went to the Ticket City Bowl, and it was dismal to say the least. There were hardly any Pennsylvanians there.
I've watched my dad weep of what announcers have said about Joe. To those who question the legacy: I say, "it's a Happy Valley thing."
Joe's legacy is far more than the playing field.
Paterno's spirit was broken
Joe Paterno did not pass away from lung cancer; he died of a broken heart.
Take away a man's dream, his life, his desire to get up in the morning, and you kill everything that means anything to him.
Lung cancer did not end the life of a legacy, literary license did.
Blame the disease if you want, but in the end we all know that Joe Paterno lost his will to live when he became the face of facts so horrible it was easier to pass the buck than to pass the football.
Rest in peace, JoePa, among other legends that grace our heavenly home.
Those of you who went ballistic and berated and belittled this man be ashamed of your own behavior: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Indian Springs, Ohio
Don't overshadow victims
Although Joe Paterno's unparalleled coaching career in the world of college football is over, the tragedy accompanying it is not.
The depth and sincerity of what Coach Paterno meant by calling the situation (Penn State employees role and responsibility in the Sandusky scandal of alleged child abuse and rape) "one of the great sorrows of my life," then adding "I wish I had done more," should be honored and acted upon.
There is grave concern that the passion for Penn State's football program, along with the money and prestige it brings to the university, will overshadow the needs of victims for support and closure.
Children have been wounded, robbed of innocence and childhood.
Published accounts of the despicable behaviors of people in the hierarchies of the Roman Catholic Church and those connected to the Penn State sexual abuse scandal substantiate the need, and could serve as a basis for the scientific study of human evil psychiatrist and author, M. Scott Peck, writes about in his book, "People of the Lie."
Alumni and the Board of Trustees should reference this author's work and recommendations. Dr. Peck also wrote, "The Road Less Traveled."
It is important sports readers know about SNAP or Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests. Please learn more at www.snapnetwork.org. This organization tirelessly and fearlessly reaches out to and advocates for victims of sexual abuse.
Let's hope Coach Paterno's legacy of passion and leadership for might and right is extended to SNAP by his family, his fan base and his university.
After all, wasn't he an innocent victim as well?
Disconnect Sandusky from JoePa
Here is a suggestion for all forms of the media: Please try when writing or speaking a piece on JoePa to not include anything about the Sandusky scandal.
You will be amazed at how clean you will feel afterwards.
Pro Bowl waste of time
Boy, was the Pro Bowl boring.
I switched channels after the first two possessions. I've seen sandlot games that were better than that. Why did the defenses even bother to go out on the field when they weren't even going to try? Never again will I waste my time trying to watch such a staged game.
At least the national anthem was well done.