Penn State's legendary coach and college football's all-time wins leader, Joe Paterno, died on Sunday, just 73 days after being dismissed as the Nittany Lions' coach.
He influenced a lot of people, including those in the Big 12. Several issued statements in the wake of Paterno's death.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville:
"When you think of college football and its tradition, you can't help but picture those dark glasses, black shoes and plain uniforms that were his style and mark on Penn State University.
I have had the great fortune to coach against Coach Paterno four times during my career and each time I came away from those contests with a greater understanding of the game of football. A true highlight of my career, has been a 30-year relationship with Coach and his wife Sue.
Like many coaches, I grew up watching and learning from one of the greatest tutors and mentors of the game. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing and wish to extend my condolences to Sue and the rest of the Paterno family."
You may have seen Mack Brown's thoughts, too.
"I've known Coach Paterno since I started coaching. Sally and I built a great relationship with him and Sue over the last 10 to 15 years, and we shared many great times. I know our lives are better because we had the opportunity to spend time with them. He was a gift to us, and when we heard the sad news today, we both openly wept, not only because college football lost a great man, but we lost a great friend. I appreciate all of the advice, the attention and the time he's given us over the years. We will miss him dearly and will always cherish the wonderful memories. College football will be left with a major void because he has done so much for our game and for Penn State. It's a very sad day, and with his passing, we have lost one of the greatest coaches our game, and all sports, will ever have. He leaves us with great stories, memories and records that may never be broken. There will never be another Joe Paterno. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and the family."
Nebraska AD Tom Osborne's athletic program is not in the Big 12 anymore, but his roots run in that league and the Big 8 far more than they do in the Huskers' current league, the Big Ten, where Paterno coached. Osborne's last national title, back in 1997, was the first in Big 12 history.
“I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno’s passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best.”
Former Texas coach Darrell Royal lost to Paterno in the pair's only meeting back in the 1972 Cotton Bowl, but Royal opened up about what Paterno meant to him.
"What I remember about our days when we were both coaching is that Joe was very honest, he was a heckuva a coach, and he was one of the outstanding coaches of all time. You can't say that about every coach, but you darn sure can say that about Joe Paterno. He meant a lot to the game, and he meant a lot to me. He was a solid person, and a solid friend."
New Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin released a statement as well.
"Our deepest sympathies, as well as our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Paterno's family and the entire Penn State community. I was coaching wide receivers at Minnesota and we were Penn State's first Big Ten Conference game and out of respect for Coach Paterno, our head coach Glen Mason wore a coat and tie coaching in that game. Coach Paterno will be missed."
I never met Joe Paterno. I never covered one of his teams or even spoke with him. The effect he had on others' lives, though, was obvious from afar.
Did he make questionable decisions late in his life? By Paterno's own admission in the final interview of his life, he regrets some of those decisions.
Like any of us, he made mistakes. Unlike most of us, however, he also had a profound positive impact on thousands of lives over his 85 years.