While enduring the Big Ten Network's "Friday Night Tailgate" tonight, something interesting presented itself. They showed a clip of Joe Paterno at his finest, hosting Penn State's Friday night pep rally. He wasted little time in picking at an old scab. After singling out members of his '68 and '69 teams in attendance, the massive chip on his shoulder made itself known. After telling the crowd that the players were "screwed" out of a championship, he had this to say:
"We had kicked the devil out of a couple people in bowl games, and the President of the United States at that time went down into Texas with a Southern Strategy and announced that Texas was the national championship (boos).
I'm sitting in my house, the phone rings, it's the White House.
The President would like you come down and we're going to give you a trophy for the longest winning streak in the country. Oooohhhh nooo. Oooohhh nooo. I told them to shove it! And that's true!"
Keep in mind that particular President last held office in 1974 and has been dead more than a decade
. It's now 2008 and Paterno's still miffed and ready to collar the guy.
I imagine the tenacity to hold that kind of grudge for that long and make it so fresh in the telling before thousands of people is part of what keeps Joe Paterno doing the near-impossible job of running a major college football program in his advanced age. He's irritating on his good days and much worse on others, but it's impossible not to respect the tenacity and occasionally get a good laugh at some of the history he's been a part of.
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