It’s time for Joe Paterno to let Penn State move on

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks out onto the field during warmups before facing the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I’m not the first person to write that headline. Heck, I wouldn’t have been the first had I written it 10 years ago.

But after today’s showing against Illinois, and this season in general, I think we can all agree that it’s time for Joe Paterno to step down at Penn State and let a new regime come in. In all honesty, he probably should have hung it up last year, as Daryll Clark walked out the door with a host of seniors, leaving behind a young team in a rebuilding state.

There’s no need for Joe Paterno to go through any kind of rebuilding, not at 83 years old. He probably didn’t need to be going through it as a 76-year-old, either, but he did and managed to make it out with a few more quality seasons. Whether or not that was good for the future of the Penn State program, who knows. I don’t know what coaches would have taken that job in 2004 or 2005, and even if I did, there’s no way to say they would have succeeded.

But now — with a young team that, even though it’s hitting some serious bumps in the road this year, has quite a bit of talent — would be a good time for Paterno to hand the reins to someone else. Whether it’s his son Jay or Greg Schiano (not the wisest move, in my opinion) or a great up-and-coming coach like a Jim Harbaugh (this is the best-case scenario for Penn State), it’s time.

Paterno has given more to college football than most anyone in history. He basically put Penn State on the map, and that will never be forgotten. But he needs to realize that now is clearly the time to step away and let the program grow without him.

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