STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Mike Krzyzewski and Joe Paterno leaned over in their cushy brown leather chairs and talked as if they were old acquaintances even though it was the first time the college coaching greats had spent any significant time together.
Combined, they have a remarkable 1,301 victories and six national titles. But Monday's made-for-TV meeting between Duke's basketball coach and Penn State's Hall of Fame football coach was dominated by exchanges about coaching philosophies, leadership and lighthearted banter--not quarterback controversies or Xs and Os.
"Actually, I think your statue should be bigger," the 64-year-old Krzyzewski joked to laughs in the crowd of more than 800 at a Penn State auditorium for the taping of an ESPN program. JoePa has a statue dedicated to him outside Beaver Stadium.
The show "Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski" is scheduled to air June 30.
"Tell me, what is an icon," the 84-year-old Paterno responded rhetorically when asked by an audience member what it was like to be held in high regard.
The rest of his answer was delivered with trademark wit, eliciting howls from attendees.
"If you mean some good-looking (guy) ... I like it," he exclaimed before striking a brief pose.
Organizers said the meeting was two years in the making. Krzyzewski (900 career wins, four national titles) and Paterno (401 wins, two national titles) had lunch at the Nittany Lions' football complex before the primarily invite-only taping. ESPN anchor Rece Davis moderated, while organizers preselected audience members in the auditorium and at Duke via teleconference to ask questions.
When asked by former sports writer and current Penn State professor Malcolm Moran, both coaches signaled it was time for the NCAA to update or revise rules governing athletics. NCAA president Mark Emmert hopes to gather about 50 presidents or chancellors in August for a two-day retreat about the future of Division I sports.
It was the closest the roughly 90-minute discussion strayed to any controversial topic. No questions about recent scandals that have touched high-profile programs such as Ohio State football or Tennessee basketball.
"The first thing, the NCAA needs to modernize ... We need to revamp the system to keep up with the culture that we have," said Krzyzewski, giving as an example restrictions on the use of electronic communications such as texting and Skype.
He added he hoped the NCAA would give coaches "as teachers more opportunities to teach," referring to restrictions on access to players.
Paterno agreed on the need to update, offering as an example a recent instance in which he said he may have broken a rule "without even thinking about it"--though son and quarterback coach Jay Paterno said JoePa likely exaggerated circumstances to make a point.
Paterno said he walked into the team's indoor practice hall unwittingly when some players were walking out. He didn't talk to the players, but later told some assistants that one of the players looked good--when a staffer told him he broke a rule.
"So I think we ought to take a look at where we are, and what we're going to do about it," Paterno said before also suggesting the NCAA look at making freshman ineligible again and adding more scholarships. He declined to compare whether the game has grown cleaner or dirtier, but added "I think we've got an ongoing situation where we don't have a lot of control over."
Primarily, the discussion revolved around the similarities between Krzyzewski and Paterno, and how the coaches have built clean, model programs in their respective sports. Both rely heavily on family on the job and to keep them grounded at home.
"What (Paterno) has been able to do is change how you teach ... without changing the values of how you teach," said Krzyzewski, who added he incorporated a similar mantra. The Duke coach at times struck a deferential tone to JoePa on his home campus.
"But values are never compromised. That's the bottom line," he said.
Both men were also raised Catholic in urban areas: Paterno in Brooklyn, Krzyzewski in Chicago.