Penn State football and Joe Paterno have been synonymous for decades. It's no accident that the leading PSU football blog is named "Black Shoe Dialogs" after Joe's constant footwear. In those press conferences you mention, one can see that Joe takes any criticism of the program, whether explicit or inferred, very personally.
...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.