Joe Paterno in "serious" condition, son asks for prayer

By Tom Ensey - email

Joe Paterno's family is asking for prayer after their spokesperson told the Associated Press that the former Penn State University head coach was in "serious" condition.

"Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time," Paterno's son, Scott Paterno, tweeted.

Reports flew Saturday night that Paterno had died, but the family's spokesperson denied his death to the Associated Press. Paterno has been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation, and his condition worsened because of complications from his battle with lung cancer.

Paterno won more college football games than any other coach before his 46-year career at Penn State ended in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal.

Paterno became head coach of the Nittany Lions in 1966, replacing Rip Engel, who had been Paterno's coach at Brown and brought him onto the PSU staff as an assistant in 1950.

He posted a career record of 409-136-3 until the university fired him in November of the 2011 season after a former assistant coach was accused by a grand jury of sexually assaulting young boys in the Penn State football facilities over a period of years. Jerry Sandusky, who served as Paterno's defensive coordinator and who remained attached to the program through a charity for disadvantaged children, was charged with dozens of child molestation charges. 

Paterno's program, previously regarded as one of the cleanest in college football, produced 78 All-American players. He stressed academics, and the program produced 16 National Football Foundation Scholar Athletes, 37 first-team Academic All Americans and 47 overall. Eighteen of his players won postgraduate scholarship awards from the NCAA.

He won two national championships in 1982 and 1986 and produced five undefeated and untied teams. His teams finished in the Top 10 of national rankings 23 times. He won American Football Association Coach of the Year five times. His teams appeared in More than 350 of his players went on to NFL careers.

Paterno spoke out about his role in the Sandusky scandal to the Washington Post just before he was hospitalized, expressing regret at his lack of understanding and wishing he had done more.

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