Al Pacino, 72, has been linked to an upcoming film about the late Penn State head football coach, Joe Paterno, according to Deadline. The project is in its earliest stages – there is no director and no script yet – but if it is made, it will reportedly be based on the biography, Paterno, written by acclaimed sports writer Joe Posanski, who recently was named the 2012 Best Sportswriter in America by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. The book chronicles all of Paterno’s life, but many believe a film would primarily focus on the devastating Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal that haunted the end of Paterno’s life and led to his firing from Penn State for failing to adequately report the crimes to the authorities. Paterno was 85 when he died from lung cancer in January, shortly after he was let go from the university. The book is currently #5 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover nonfiction.

The project has already begun to ruffle feathers among a Penn State fan base who fear that Hollywood will handle a film about Paterno inappropriately.

"Rarely have I gotten so many emails on a story that has struck a nerve among former students of Penn State," wrote Mike Fleming of Deadline. "Some claiming to have clout in Hollywood say they will try to squash this project, and others are critical of me and defensive of the beloved Paterno, claiming he got a raw deal."

As of now, the project could be anything from a made-for-TV movie to a major motion picture, but Pacino's involvement has piqued interest in the concept. Pacino has received eight Academy Award nominations — five for Best Actor and three for Best Supporting Actor — and won Best Actor for his role in the 1993 film Scent of a Woman. He is also well known for a previous role as a head football coach, when he played Tony D’Amato, the head coach of the fictional Miami Sharks in the 1999 film, Any Given Sunday. Pacino’s attachment to a Joe Paterno film could attract an assortment of talent to what will surely be a highly anticipated and highly controversial look at the rise and fall of a college football legend. –Hal Sundt

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