In his speech, Sandusky made special mention of the 1986 team that won Penn State's second national championship. With coverage looks Miami hadn't seen on film, the Lions forced quarterback Vinny Testaverde into five interceptions and won the Fiesta Bowl 14-10.
"That team reminded him how people who are dedicated and driven, how people who pay attention to every detail, can rise to any occasion," said Tom Bradley, who coached outside linebackers and special teams that year.
As a coach, Sandusky upheld the "plain and proud" principles he valued as a player. He never went for walkthroughs at practice. To him, one full-speed play was more valuable than five walkthroughs.
Sandusky also never applauded players diminishing the "plain and proud" principles. In Miami this year, Arrington began taunting the crowd behind the Penn State bench. Then he heard a few screams and a crash.
Arrington turned to see Sandusky -- "his little legs flippering," he said -- on the ground struggling to get up beneath a few chairs.
In his haste to reprimand Arrington, Sandusky tripped over a wire and fell on his face. All the while he shouted to Arrington, "Don't you do that."
"He's a discipline person," Sarra said. "That's because he comes from a strong family and because he's built a strong family."
On and off the field, family is Sandusky's foundation. Before the final home game against Michigan, Sandusky ran onto the field to receive embraces from several players. It was like hugging every player he had coached.
Then he found son Jon, a senior who started on special teams this year. That was like hugging his entire family.
Jon is one of six children Sandusky and Dottie have adopted. He is the second to play football and will be the fourth to graduate from Penn State. Older brother E.J. is head football coach at Albright College.
The Sanduskys also have cared for many foster children over the years -- "The house is always busy," Sandusky said. From that, The Second Mile was born.
Twenty-three years ago, Sandusky set out to develop a group foster home. That grew into The Second Mile, which today has two offices (in State College and Harrisburg), nine programs and 20 full-time staff members. Through camps, counseling, scholarship assistance and many other services, The Second Mile has helped more than 100,000 kids.
It also partly kept Sandusky from leaving Penn State. In the early 1970s, before he became defensive coordinator, Sandusky was offered the head-coaching job at Marshall. He accepted, then went downstairs with the news.
A foster child they were caring for asked to play ball. Other kids were outside sledding. Sandusky knew he couldn't leave.
Overtures from Temple and Maryland followed in the 1990s. He couldn't take them, either.
"I dreamed of being a head coach," Sandusky said. "I dreamed of being a pro baseball player and a pro football player, too. All dreams don't come true."
He covered it all during his 15-minute speech at the Quarterback Club banquet, leaving little for Paterno to say. The head coach barely tried, either. Sandusky had rendered him speechless.
It was fine note upon which to retire.
"If he was speechless, then that was a milestone," Sandusky said. "I'll never equal that one."
His speech included one more milestone. Finally, he could gloat over a victory for The Great Pretenders.
For the 1998 football camps, Spider devised a breathtaking antic. Driving a Mazda Miata convertible, with a beautiful young woman riding shotgun, Caldwell entered Holuba Hall dressed dashingly in a tuxedo. He was James Bond.
Caldwell spent a few minutes badmouthing The Great Pretenders, with Bond music playing in the background, then pulled the leather helmet from the car and struck his Heisman pose. The kids roared with applause at the first two camps. Then came Camp Three.
Caldwell did his Heisman Dance, grabbed the girl and began driving away. But a campus police car, lights flashing, blazed into Holuba Hall and cut off his escape.
An officer emerged with handcuffs. Caldwell's wife got out of the car, too. Caldwell was taken away for, among other things, fraternizing with another woman and impersonating James Bond.
Sandusky orchestrated the whole phony arrest. The kids loved it, and The Great Pretenders rejoiced.
So in his farewell address, which covered nearly 40 years at Penn State, Sandusky found a moment to note this: The Great Pretenders finally beat Spider. His record is now 36-1.
"That's what I'll remember," Caldwell said. "That's what I'll miss."
Dec. 27, 1999: There's no pretending: Sandusky is for real
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.