One of the titans of college football, Joe Paterno, has passed away due to lung cancer at the age of 85.  It is something that impossible mere months ago, as JoePa was breaking the record for most career coaching wins in D1 football. But then a sterling legacy was tarnished as a sex abuse scandal lead to his being fired by the university. That in and of itself was a shock, as the thought of someone else patrolling the sideline in State College was unimaginable. As the Penn State community mourns the loss of an icon, some are left to struggle exactly how to remember the legendary coach.

For all but the last few months, Joe Paterno was a rock in college football. Even more so in this era of quick coaching changes, where a new coach is often lucky to last more then 3 years and JoePa was there for 46. It’s something we’re likely never to see again. During that near half century, he amassed 409 wins and 24 bowl wins, both D1 records, not to mention numerous coaching accolades, 2 National Titles and 3 Big Ten Championships. He is known just as much for his accomplishment on the field as ones off it. Throughout his tenure he strove to successfully mix sports with academics, something unusual today with the emphasis on winning. He is known for his long list of charitable donations to Penn State.

However, that mighty image was forever tarnished when the Sandusky sex abuse scandal broke last November. Paterno’s involvement revolved around a 2002 incident where he was informed of a case a sexual abuse against a child. Paterno reported to his superiors, but that was all and is at the center of the controversy in regards to his involvement. His backers will proclaim that he did what was required of him and he doesn’t deserve all the criticism he has reserved. Maybe he did, but when there is any case of sexual abuse of a child, there is real no excuse for not making sure the proper authorities are aware or for investigating it fully. Perhaps Paterno fulfilled his legal obligation in the situation, but the moral requirements were not met.

So there are some that will remember Joe Paterno for his legendary accomplishment on the football field and there are some that will see those as tainted by his involvement in the Sandusky scandal. So what will his legacy be? There is no way to erase the number of wins he has amassed or what he has done for the Penn State community. Those will remain forever, but the scandal will forever be a blemish on his record. Penn State people will proclaim him a great man and others will demonize him for not doing enough in 2002. He is neither of those things, but a both at the same time. JoePa will be remembered equally for what he did do as well as what he didn’t do.