Paterno’s call vs. Kansas still memorable

I watched Saturday’s Penn State-Minnesota game and came away with one firm conclusion: To wit, some coaches are destined to prevail at big moments on grand stages, and some are not.

I was stationed in Vietnam in 1968-69 and listened to the Jan. 1, 1969 Orange Bowl game between Penn State and Kansas on the American Forces Radio Network.

In the closing minutes, Penn State registered a touchdown, making the score 14-13, Kansas.

Joe Paterno went for a 2-point conversion, which was successful, and emerged a 15-14 winner. Gutsy.

At that point, I became a dedicated Paterno fan.

Through the years, I watched as Paterno and Penn State accumulated great success at big moments on grand stages (think Penn State against Georgia on one occasion and against Miami on another).

When decision time came at key moments of big games, my family laughed as I shouted at the figure on the TV screen, “Think, Joe, think.”

He rarely let me down.

Of all the reasons PSU lost to Minnesota, I believe the primary fault was that the coaching staff was outcoached, and the team was not prepared to succeed.

James Franklin is a very good coach but not of the elite stature as Paterno when it comes to preparing and guiding his teams for big games on grand stages.

James E. Wentz, USN (Ret)

McLean, Virginia


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