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Ten years later: Former QB recalls the firing of Joe Paterno

Ten years ago this week, legendary Penn State Head Football Coach Joe Paterno was fired amid a scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Former Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno is the winningest coach in NCAA Division I college football history. 

On November 9th, 2011, days after securing his 409th victory, Paterno was let go, a moment that shook the entire Keystone state.

Paterno was a fixture on the sidelines at Beaver Stadium for decades and a respected voice in the locker room and across the state.

Penn State's starting quarterback during those tumultuous days was West Scranton grad Matt McGloin.

"When Joe spoke, everyone stopped and listened," said McGloin. "Offense, defense, whatever field he was on when he was talking practice stopped."

McGloin walked on at Penn State and shared time as the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions in 2011, the season that would be JoePa's last.

"It's something you never forget," said McGloin. "I'm sitting in my apartment in State College, and you're watching on the TV as your head coach is fired and all of that news broke. You don't know what to think."

Paterno was fired after sexual assault allegations surfaced against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was later convicted.

The news of Paterno's firing was a crushing blow to Penn State alum and attorney James Albert of Pittston.

"He was obviously a beloved coach. He was a beloved member of that community," said Albert. "The abrupt way that he was dismissed, I think, took everyone by shock."

"I'll never forget one of my roommates walked into my room, and he was like, 'they're rioting downtown,'" said McGloin. "I'm like, 'dude, I'm not leaving, don't leave."

The NCAA stripped away many of Paterno's wins, and the University faced sanctions. 

The disgraced coach died just a few months later, in January 2012.

"If anyone summed that situation up, it was Joe Paterno himself when he said, 'With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,'" said Albert. "I think the Penn State community wishes he had that hindsight and does wish he did more."

Albert points out Paterno reported the first allegations of assault to his superiors, and he was never charged. 

In McGloin's eyes, coach Paterno's legacy is unchanged.

"The lessons I've learned from Joe Paterno will be a part of me forever," said McGloin. "I use those lessons today being a husband, a brother, a father, a friend. It's incredible what the game of football can do for you, and it's incredible what great coaches can do for you."

Paterno's wins were later restored, and the NCAA lifted the sanctions against the football program early. 

While his role in the Sandusky scandal continues to be debated, many hope he's remembered for the positive impact he had on the players and community.

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