UPDATED: Penn State Will 'Want To Consider All Possibilities' For Honoring Paterno, Curley Says
UPDATED @ 3:16 p.m. Monday: Penn State athletics Director Tim Curley has indicated the university will "want to consider all possibilities" for honoring Coach Paterno "at the appropriate time." The report below has been updated to incorporate Curley's feedback.
Ask Warren Armstrong, and his view is clear:
This is the time to name the field at Beaver Stadium for football Coach Joe Paterno.
Actually, Armstrong said Friday, he wanted Penn State to make that move last year.
Since last summer, he said, he has been lobbying the university to adopt a new moniker: Joe Paterno Field at Beaver Stadium. Armstrong said he has encouraged more than 600 people to advocate the change and send personal letters to university President Graham Spanier and athletics Director Tim Curley.
On Thursday, the 1960 Penn State graduate took his case to about 125 fans and alumni at a Lehigh Valley meeting of the university alumni association. Armstrong said he also may buy advertisements in local media around State College to pursue the naming concept more publicly.
"I don't get the sense that they (university administrators) are against the idea," Armstrong told StateCollege.com. "I've been advocating that they do it now rather than wait until Joe retires or Joe dies or something like that. ...
"When they bring in a new head coach -- which I think will be somebody from the outside -- I think it would be a mistake to name the stadium (field for Paterno) then," Armstrong went on. "I think it would be better to do it now."
Curley, reached via e-mail, wrote that the university has "received suggestions throughout the years on the best way to honor Coach Paterno.
"We appreciate the input and will certainly want to consider all possibilities at the appropriate time," Curley went on. "The process will be an internal one with the appropriate university approvals required at the time."
Armstrong recalled a recent September game when students waved a sign encouraging a "Petition for Paterno Field." After the game, Armstrong said, a reporter asked Paterno how he felt about the naming idea.
As Armstrong remembers it, Paterno said that such a distinction would be flattering and nice, but that it's for other people to decide and that he doesn't think about it.
"That, to me, leaves the door open," Armstrong said. He noted that there's precedent for naming college football facilities for influential coaches -- including at Florida State and the University of Alabama.
"As far as I'm concerned, Joe Paterno built that stadium and did a wonderful job," said Armstrong, who runs Armstrong Marketing Services in Allentown.
In a July 2009 letter to Spanier, he outlined five specific reasons to help back up the naming idea: Paterno's longevity at Penn State; his voluminous record of victories; his role in building up Beaver Stadium; his "love and devotion" to the university; and the naming precedent set at Florida State. It has named its football field for retired Coach Bobby Bowden.
Armstrong said he suggests that fans write conventional letters -- not e-mail messages -- to Spanier and Curley. He believes the conventional correspondence "carries more weight. ... I think it gets greater attention. It's easy to delete e-mails."
A separate Facebook group pushing for the Paterno Field name counted just more than 50 members as of early Saturday morning.
Paterno, 83, has been the university's head football coach since 1966. A graduate of Brown University, he started working in Penn State football in 1950.
StateCollege.com will continue to report on this story and update this article.