Joe Paterno Biography

November 10, 2011 by staff 

Joe Paterno Biography, Gene Haplea had faith in Joe Paterno before. And he does now. Haplea, whose son Kevin is a tight end at Penn State and whose daughter Gretchen is a recruiting assistant for the football team, has kept close tabs as scandal and controversy engulfed State College, Pa.

“It hasn’t changed my opinion of Joe,” Haplea, of Clinton Township, said Wednesday after Paterno announced he would retire at season’s end — and before the trustees announced Paterno was fired. “Short term, maybe I’m a little sad it’s turning out the way it did because of some decisions he may have made to take this thing in one direction or the other. I’m not one that writes the ultimate biography.”

Penn State recruited Kevin Haplea, a sophomore, from North Hunterdon High School. Twin sister Gretchen also is at Penn State.

Gene has been in touch with both 20-year-olds throughout the week and was on campus Tuesday.

“You try to come up with your own version of how things played out and why people did what they did,” he said of the scandal that has resulted from a grand jury investigating sexual assault allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

“It’s difficult. Joe’s a great man, a great coach, and has done so many great things for Penn State and college football. It’s real hard. You want to see people like that finish their careers in a way that they’ve come to earn. It’s unfortunate.
“You want to believe that people did as much as they could and in this case Joe admitted maybe he didn’t.

“I always think it’s hard to start trying to judge people on one act or one omission or one occurrence of anything. No one’s infallible. He made a mistake. He’s going to pay the price. His legacy may pay the price, too. I don’t know.”

Gene Haplea on Wednesday — before Paterno’s ouster — traded text messages with his son, who attended a morning meeting in which Paterno and several teammates broke down as the longtime coach told them he planned to retire at season’s end.

“He said it was tough all the way around,” said Haplea, who works for the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security. “A lot of the older players got emotional. A lot of the coaches broke down. He said it was in general a pretty surreal kind of atmosphere.

“The fact that Joe possibly could be departing had been something they were prepared to kind of deal with at some point. Dealing with it in this way just caught everybody off guard. It just added to the emotion of the moment.”

Gene, wife Melissa and eldest daughter Megan plan to be at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Outgoing lettermen will be recognized during Senior Day.

“You don’t want to see the kids have to pay the price,” Haplea said. “You get to know these kids. They’re great kids. I’m really hoping that this week, the last home game, is going to be a special moment for them.

“There’s emotion running high on all sides, as you would expect with 30,000 to 40,000 18- to 21-year-olds. I always tell them: Don’t worry about the things you have no ability to impact.”

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