UNIVERSITY PARK (KDKA)–Joe Paterno’s statue outside Beaver Stadium needs to be bigger.
That’s what Mike Krzyzewski believes.
“I don’t agree the statue should be bigger. I think it’s big enough,” said Penn State quarterback coach and Paterno’s son, Jay, while laughing. “They said it was life-size. My dad is not seven feet tall. I know that for a fact.”
Krzyzewski, the second winningest coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball (two wins behind Bob Knight), met the winningest college football coach for the first time Monday. Paterno and Krzyzewski shared the Eisenhower Auditorium stage on Penn State’s campus during ESPN’s “Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno & Krzyzewski.” The show will air June 30 at 8 p.m. on ESPN, with another half-hour at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.
The two legendary head coaches have combined for 1,301 wins and six national championships in 81 seasons, but the conversation dug deeper than sports, covering family, leadership and excellence at their respective schools with ESPN host Rece Davis.
Krzyzewski,64, credited Paterno,84, during the event, saying, “What he has been able to do is change how you teach, without changing the values of how you teach.”
Paterno has been part of the Nittany Lions football program since 1950. The 84-year-old began as an assistant and became head coach in 1966.
When Paterno was asked how it feels to be an icon of Penn State, laughter spread throughout the auditorium when the long-time coach replied, “Tell me, what is an icon? If you mean being good looking or you’re handsome, I like it.”
For Paterno and Krzyzewski, family has played a significant role in their lives. Paterno’s son, Jay, has been on the Nittiany Lions staff for 17 years and is currently the quarterback coach.
Krzyzewski said his family is part of the Duke family, adding his wife, Mickie, travels to many games with him.
Additionally, Coach K co-wrote two books with his daughter, Jamie, titled “THE GOLD STANDARD: Building a World-Class Team” and “Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Keywords For Success.”
Monday’s taping also included former Duke players Jay Bilas and Jay Williams, along with former Penn State products Matt Millen and Michael Robinson, who shared experiences about the coaches.
Millen, a four-time Super Bowl champion, said the great thing about Paterno is he is “the same Joe that I ran into in 1974.”
Jay Paterno said Millen made a great point during the show when he said both coaches are real.
“They are both genuine, and that’s why they are able to do it, and when you look at it, that’s why they are able to remain,” Jay Paterno said after the show. “That’s why they’re able to sustain what they do, and ultimately through the downs and ups and through the whole nine yards, they are able to stay.”
Seattle Seahawks running back Michael Robinson played for Paterno, earning Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2005.
Robinson said he can see similarities between Paterno and Coach K.
“They’re winners,” Robinson said. “They’re very, very bright. They know how to touch kids, young kids. You know people say, especially Joe, people say he’s kind of lost and he’s not in touch with the younger generation. And again, Coach K said it best, ‘It makes sense.’ “
As for Duke, Bilas, now college basketball analyst at ESPN, made his first trip to State College, Pa. for the show, and said after Paterno and Krzyzewski can be really demanding, but believes that is a good thing.
“At the same time, after you finish playing for them, you’ve got a friend for life, and I think you can tell that from seeing them today,” Bilas said.
The four-year starter for Coach K from 1982-86, finished his career with 1,062 points and was third among Duke’s all-time career field-goal percentage leaders (56 percent).
Bilas said Coack K could raise his voice a little, but “knew (Krzyzewski) cared. About what? You weren’t sure at the time.”
During Bilas’ span at Duke, he said Coach K was as passionate as you could imagine.
“So, if something went wrong, you knew about it,” Bilas said. “But he also caught you doing something right a lot. After having taking the blistering, when you did something right and he would complement you on it, boy that was worth every negative part. You realize after a while that if you weren’t getting the criticism from him, there was really something wrong, and maybe you weren’t going to be playing.”