One wears glasses, the other saves the shades for the sun. No matter their differences, Lloyd Carr and Joe Paterno have become the faces of the Big Ten.
Years coached: 42
Career record: 366-121-3
National Championships won: 2 (1982, 1986)
The lowdown: The bespectacled 80-year-old coach holds the most entertaining press conferences. Paterno, who doesn’t own a cell phone, uses phrases from before most college students were born, such as “gobbledygook,” and tells anecdotes about conversations with his grandson. The Penn State icon already has a statue outside of Beaver Stadium and fields questions each year about how much longer he will coach. Paterno has taken his fair share of criticism from Nittany Lion fans, especially from 2002-03 when his teams won a combined seven games, but since then Penn State has regularly contended for the Big Ten crown.
Carr on Paterno: “I’ve always liked coach Paterno. I’ve always admired what he stands for, the way he runs his program. And as an individual, I like him. I like him personally. I admire what he stands for as a coach. I think he represents our profession in a way that makes us all proud to be coaches, and his success speaks for itself.”
Years coached: 13
Career record: 114-38
National Championships won: 1 (1997)
The lowdown: Carr has been heavily criticized this year after losses to Appalachian State and Oregon, but what’s new? Over the past few years, rumors have attacked the coach’s health, his knowledge of the game of football and his desire to continue roaming the sidelines. Carr has stopped answering questions about when he will retire. Still, he has won one more national championship than Michigan coaching legend Bo Schembechler and led the Wolverines to three Rose Bowls in the last five years. His players love him as much as fans hate him.
Paterno on Carr: “I was talking to some people when they were trying to get on Lloyd Carr. I told a couple of guys, I said, ‘Sometimes you’re here (hand raised) and then you go here (hand lowered), all right?’ If you don’t panic, you’ll get back up there (hand raised), all right? If you panic, start to try a lot of different things, you listen to the media, you try to accommodate critics, you’re going to stay here (hand lowered). You stick with what you know.”