Would Eddie Robinson Want Joe Paterno’s Wins Vacated?

The mayor of Grambling, LA has petitioned the NCAA to vacate some of Joe Paterno’s wins as coach of Penn State. Paterno is one win better than Grambling State University’s coaching icon Eddie Robinson on the all time Division I wins list, 409 to 408. Like most people, the Grambling mayor believes that all that can be taken from Paterno’s legacy wouldn’t be enough to compensate for his protection of a child rapist.

There is a special kind of infamy reserved for Joe Paterno, who died just weeks after passing Robinson for the title of greatest winner in football history. No one knew then that he would die in scandal and be memorialized in rage and heartbreak months later. It’s understandable why the City of Grambling would want wins to come crumbling down along with the statue outside of the PSU stadium and the comfort of everyone associated with Penn State University.

But it’s not what Eddie Robinson would want, and it’s not something that will make Paterno more tolerable as a sports figure or Robinson himself more of a hero.

Fans and supporters make sweeping generalizations about the greatness of a person based upon their coaching or playing ability. That’s fool’s gold for the most part, but in the case of Robinson, the prevailing lore is that he was exponentially a better man and humanitarian than he was a coach.

And because of that, it would be hard to picture Coach Rob accepting an amended record for most wins all-time. His on-the-field legend was built upon his ability to line up 11 guys on either side of the ball to whip the opponent for 60 minutes. What former player or student attracted to GSU’s campus because of its football success could sincerely accept a record handed to a man who earned every victory, defeat and lesson he ever received?

Penn State should get the death penalty, a two-year ban at minimum.  Fans, leadership and boosters who keep talking about everything else but Paterno’s calculated hiding of sexual assault on children should take the time to consider that there is more to life than tradition, symbolism and moving on. That’s a generous opportunity for a school that lied and hid its way into the greatest collegiate scandal in American history.

Paterno and Robinson scaled the mountain of college football success and shared the precipice of how to work and live in the sport with character, integrity and purpose. They both made good men into great fathers, husbands and community leaders. But Coach Rob now stands alone as college football’s greatest human being.

And we’ll gladly take that over 409 wins any day.


  • http://twitter.com/marchingpodcast marchingpodcast

     I agree SickNTired. The precedent has been set with the Fab Five and Chris Webber at Michigan, Derek Rose case at Memphis, and with Reggie Bush at USC. In this case the crime is considered the worse in college history so the minimum to vacate wins is necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=792055418 Oscar R. Carter Jr.

    While I certainly believe that JoPa was in a very real sense “given” the record over Coach Robinson, there is a very real reason and precedent for Penn State to
    have wins vacated – LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL. In 2010 USC had all
    wins from the 2004 and 2005 seasons vacated due to Reggie Bush receiving improper financial benefits. Why? LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL. Last week Cal Tech vacated it’s wins for the 2010-11 seasons in all sports. Why? NCAA found that there was a LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL around ineligible students competing. JoPa, at a minimum, did nothing to protect children on the campus of Penn State.
    He enabled a pedophile to use the football program for his own happy
    hunting ground. If this is not the prime example of LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL then the NCAA should never again use the term. Penn State should vacate every win from 1998 to 2012 (Bowl Game). And yes, I believe Coach Robinson would gladly endorse that, regardless of his record 408 wins.

  • SickNTired

    The fact is, Joe Pa has not actually coached Penn State for years.  He was merely on the payroll and traveled with the team because of his iconic status.  There lies the real difference, for which I’m sure Eddie Robinson would agree and petition.  This fact remains despite the criminal acts surrounding Penn State while Joe Pa was alive.  Too many lies have been preserved in the history books and this would be another one if not corrected.