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The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys) WILKES BARRE TIMES-LEADER OUT, AP Photo
This Sept. 4, 2010 photo shows Penn State legendary head football coach Joe Paterno walking on to the field before a game against Youngstown State at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. Paterno, a sainted figure at Penn State for almost half a century but scarred forever by the scandal involving his one-time heir apparent, died Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in State College. He was 85.

It seems like such a perfect fit, more than two decades later.

The Big Ten and Penn State were made for each other. After 106 years as an independent, Penn State wanted to connect. The conference, meanwhile, was looking for a like-minded university that would stretch and add to the existing members.

But there were a lot of doubters from the outset. Some coaches and administrators groused about the travel, scheduling problems, costs and competitive balance. A few at Penn State wondered if it wasn't "settling" for the Big Ten.

But the canny, iconic coach of the Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno, helped bridge the gap and ease the transition.