Joe Paterno is no longer the head coach at Penn State University.
But that doesn't change the way a pair of former York High standouts feel about their former coach.
Andre Powell and Knowledge Timmons talked about Paterno on Wednesday evening, after he announced his decision to retire at the end of the season, but before the Penn State Board of Trustees announced that he would be dismissed immediately.
Both Powell and Timmons expressed admiration for Paterno, despite his current situation.
Powell played for the Nittany Lions from 1987 through 1991 at linebacker, a position coached by Jerry Sandusky -- the longtime PSU defensive assistant now accused of sexually abusing young boys both during and after his days
"Jerry was always a good man during my time there. At no point would that even begin to seep into mind that any of this was happening," Powell said. "And I defy any football player that would say they always thought that was going on."
Timmons is just two years removed from playing cornerback for the Nittany Lions. He still stays in touch with a lot of current players. And he intends to pay a visit to them and his former coaches this weekend before their game against Nebraska.
"I probably will just tell them to focus on the game and not let the news be a distraction. But they already know that. It's just negative energy that's on the outside," he said.
Powell, who lives just outside Milwaukee and operates his own sports marketing business, might also get the chance to visit the Nittany Lions soon when Penn State plays at Wisconsin in a few weeks. And he knows just what he'd say to Paterno if he meets him again in the future.
"All I would do is shake his hand and tell him, 'Hey coach, no matter where this is going to lead, I love you and I respect you.' It's not my place to play reporter. I'll give him that respect," Powell said.
Powell is concerned it will take at least a few years to repair the once well-respected image of the program.
"For 10 years now I've lived in other states outside of Pennsylvania. And people from Pennsylvania have always been able to plant that Penn State flag down and say 'I went to the university that has a good program and builds careers for young people.' We've always been able to say 'at the end of the day, we don't have to worry about anything going wrong with any scandal.' We can't say that now. It's really been a huge wakeup call. And it might take some time for that image to be built up."
Timmons, however, disagrees.
"I'm kind of mad because it could tarnish the reputation. But it's hard to say. If they bring in a big-name guy like Bill Cowher, you might forget about that," Timmons said. "And it might make the team stronger, they'll get stronger from the inside in dealing with adversity."
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com.