Stress kills.

Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, died Sunday at the age of 85.

Paterno won 409 games in an unprecedented 46-year run as head football coach at Penn State University but his failure to execute proper moral responsibility when informed a young boy had been sexually molested inside the Penn State football complex in 2002 will forever cast a dark shadow on the career of the man known as “JoePa.”

Paterno’s legacy is tarnished by child sex abuse allegations targeting his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with molesting 10 boys over 15 years.

On November 4, after a three-year investigation, Sandusky was federally indicted on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys.

Paradoxically, Sandusky was not officially banned from the campus at Penn State until November 6.

On November 9, Paterno boldly announced he would retire at the end of the 2011 season amid the worst scandal in college football history.

It was a brash move by Paterno considering his job was in jeopardy the moment the Sandusky scandal became public.

Penn State administrators, for the first time in a half-century, stood up to the legendary football coach, pulling the plug on Paterno’s dictatorship by unceremoniously firing the popular figure on the same day he tried to control the story and maintain his legendary status.

Paterno’s ill-timed comment of “wishing I had done more” was crafted as an apology but viewed by many as an admission of guilt.

At his advanced age, Paterno no longer called the right play at the right time nor chose the right words at the right moment.

On Sunday, Mount Nittany Medical Center released a statement about the death of Joe Paterno. The statement read, “On January 22, 2012 at 9:25 a.m., Joseph V. Paterno died of metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung.” Most news agencies translated the medical examiner’s report to mean Paterno died from complications of his ongoing treatment for lung cancer.”

The battle with lung cancer was short-lived.

So too was Paterno’s campaign to save his damaged reputation.

Paterno died less than three months after “Coach” had been ripped from his name.

Doctors insist Paterno’s physical ailments were too much to overcome but is it possible Paterno died from a broken heart and guilty conscience?

NFL RECAP……”Dog” and “under” was the winning combination in Sunday’s pair of AFC and NFC Championship Games.

The New England Patriots and New York Giants will meet in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII after narrowly capturing three-point victories over teams led by the Harbaugh brothers.

The two games had a similar feel with none of the four teams ever leading by more than one score.

The AFC contest was played in an 11-point window (New England’s biggest lead was 7; Baltimore’s was 4) and the NFC game featured a nearly eight-minute overtime session after the game was tied at 10 at halftime and tied at 17 at the end of regulation (San Francisco’s biggest lead was 7-0 while the New York Giants enjoyed three-point cushions on three occasions, 10-7, 17-14 and ultimately 20-17).

FILET O’ FISH……Nicknamed “Shark,” Mark Simons fell to 0-2 after a pair of losses to EOG contributors DJ Dalamar and dsethi in a basketball handicapping event called “The SportsOptions Showdown.” The Friday night contest, airing as part of The EOG Sports Hour, requires contestants to select five games against the current numbers at Pinnacle for a chance to win $500 compliments of EOG and SportsOptions. Simons, a 30-year veteran of the handicapping wars, figures to improve on his two-week mark of 4-4-2. Dsethi (4-1) and DJ (2-3) both posted narrow victories over the college hoop expert. This Friday night, Micelli, an EOG fave, will square off against Simons for a chance to win a nickel.

MONDAY’S BEST BETS…..Play 743-744 Syracuse-Cincinnati “OVER” 135. The Orange this season shoot 48% from the field but exit a 34% performance last Saturday in a 67-58 road loss to Notre Dame. For the second straight game, Syracuse is missing Fab Melo, the team’s leading rebounder and top shot blocker. The Fighting Irish hit half of their 24 two-point field goal attempts and half of their 16 three-point shots in pulling the upset. Syracuse never led after missing 14 of its first 19 shots. Look for Cincy to play fast and loose as the team’s trio of starting guards — Dion Dixon, Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick –has been given a green light to shoot at will (33 shots versus West Virginia last Saturday, including 16 shots from beyond the arc). ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich noted Cincy’s offensive game plan, or lack thereof, was to shoot early in the clock without attempting to create any ball movement or player movement. One other play based on Dakich’s assessment: 743 Syracuse -4.5 over Cincy.

COMING TUESDAY……A list of questions set for our upcoming interview with Tim Donaghy, the disgraced NBA referee and author of the book titled “Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA.” Donaghy is scheduled to appear on the The EOG Sports Hour this Tuesday night (January 24) at 10:00 p.m. Pacific. The show can be heard on KLAV-AM 1230 in Las Vegas (www.klav1230am.com).

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