In life, the average working person’s retirement comes at the still spry age between 55-70, depending on your tax bracket. Many people look forward to the day they can retire, spend their days on the golf course, play with their grandchildren.
But not these two men… Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, two college football coaching Gods. A quick introduction first:
Joe Paterno (81), head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions since 1966. 381 career wins (most all-time), 2 National Championships, inducted in College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bobby Bowden (79), head coach of the Florida State Seminoles since 1976. 380 career wins (2nd most all-time), 2 National Championships, inducted in College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Both clearly look way past a normal man’s working age. But these two men have continued to coach football for over four decades, amassing astonishing win totals for any coach in the NCAA Division-1 record books. However in the last couple of years, many sportswriters have argued the logic of them continuing to coach their respective teams. Many point out the fact that neither coach calls more than 5% of the plays or dictates the coaching action on the field, instead relegating their duties to their assistant coaches. Writers argue that this is an obvious sign of men not being able to do their job and are instead hanging on due to their legendary status at their schools, chasing that one last National Championship dream, trying to pile up wins so no one else can touch them.
Valid points, indeed. But what they don’t hear from each of their friends is that both men cannot imagine life without college football. For example, from a close source to JoePa, Paterno is afraid of the next step that comes after retirement. I can only assume Bowden feels the same way, but he hasn’t said it out loud quite yet.
Personally, I don’t see why either coach should be pressured to retire if they don’t want to… UNLESS, their respective teams records aren’t performing up to standards. At the beginning of this year, both schools, FSU and PSU were coming of shaky seasons in 2007. Many writers felt that each coach should retire right now, but this year has seen a resurgence from both schools. PSU has been ranked as high as #3 and is second in the Big Ten Conference with a record of 9-1. FSU has been ranked as high as #15 and is first in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a record of 7-2. Both schools will be going to a Bowl game this year.
Now the question is, after a pretty successful year for both coaches, should they come back next year?
My answer is, if they wake up and their first thought every morning is…
“God, I cannot wait to get to the football field and lead the boys onto victory! “
May they coach until they’re six feet under, because you don’t find many men who have been that loyal to their jobs for that long.