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Joe Paterno
October 20, 2006
Title Head coach
College Penn State
Sport Football
Conference Big Ten
Team record 394–129–3
Born December 21, 1926 (1926-12-21) (age 83)
Place of birth Brooklyn, New York
Annual salary $1,030,000[1]
Career highlights
Overall 394–129–3
Bowls 24–11–1
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
2 National (1982, 1986)
3 Big Ten (1994, 2005, 2008)
3x Walter Camp COY (1972, 1994, 2005)
3x Eddie Robinson COY (1978, 1982, 1986)
2x Bobby Dodd COY (1981, 2005)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (1986)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (2002)
The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (2005)
SI Sportsman of the Year (1986)
3x Big Ten Coach of the Year (1994, 2005, 2008)
Most Division I-A/FBS wins (394)
Most bowl wins (24)
Playing career
1946–1949 Brown
Position Quarterback, cornerback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Penn State (Assistant)
Penn State
College Football Hall of Fame, 2007 (Bio)

Joseph Vincent "Joe" Paterno (born December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York), is a college football coach, currently the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, a position he has held since 1966. Paterno, nicknamed "JoePa," holds the record for the most victories by an FBS football coach, and has coached more bowl game wins than any other coach in college football history. Paterno is one of three active coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as coaches (along Chris Ault and John Gagliardi).


Early life

In 1944, Paterno graduated from the now defunct Brooklyn Preparatory School. He matriculated at Brown University, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Upsilon chapter). He played quarterback and cornerback, and currently shares, with Greg Parker, the career record for interceptions at 14.[2] Paterno graduated with the Brown University Class of 1950. Paterno joined his college coach Rip Engle as an assistant coach at Penn State in 1950; Engle coached five seasons, 1944–1949, at Brown.

Records and accomplishments

Paterno is in his 60th season on the Penn State coaching staff in 2009, holding the record for most seasons for any football coach at any university. The 2009 season is Paterno’s 44th as head coach of the Nittany Lions, passing Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most years as head coach at a single institution in Division 1.[3] Paterno has been on Penn State's coaching staff for 680 of their 1,202 games, 56.6% of all games played by the program dating back to its inception in 1887.

The Pittsburgh Steelers offered their head coach position to Paterno in 1969, an offer he considered seriously. The Steelers ended up hiring Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls in his first 11 years, and coached for an additional twelve seasons.

Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham contacted Paterno in 1969 to see if Paterno (whom Canham respected and knew personally) would accept the vacant Michigan job. Paterno turned down the offer and Michigan went on to hire Bo Schembechler. In 1972, Paterno also turned down a head coaching position with the New England Patriots, which included an ownership position. The Pats hired Chuck Fairbanks of Oklahoma instead.

After five years of court battles, the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) revealed Paterno's salary in November 2007: $512,664. (He was paid $490,638 in 2006.[1]) The figure is not inclusive of other compensation, such as money from television and apparel contracts as well as other bonuses that Paterno and other football bowl subdivision coaches may earn, said Robert Gentzel, SERS communications director. The release of these amounts can only come at the university's approval, which Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said will not happen. By comparison, the salary of Nick Saban, the highest paid college football coach during 2006-2007, was $4,000,000.[4] "I'm paid well, I'm not overpaid," Paterno said during an interview with reporters Wednesday before the salary disclosure. "I got all the money I need."

On December 16, 2008, it was reported that Paterno had agreed in principle to a contract extension that would extend his tenure at Penn State by at least three years.[5]


Head coaching record

Paterno has a career record of 394 wins, 129 losses, and 3 ties (0.751). In his 44 seasons as a head coach, he has had 38 winning seasons (one more than Bear Bryant). Based on the criteria used by the NCAA, Paterno holds the record for most victories by a Division I-A/FBS football coach.[6]

Considering that most of those wins were against Division 1A schools (or formerly Division 1A schools) Paterno also holds the record for the most wins against Division 1A schools (or formerly Division 1A schools)[7]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Penn State Nittany Lions (Independent) (1966–1992)
1966 Penn State 5–5
1967 Penn State 8–2–1 T Gator 11 10
1968 Penn State 11–0 W Orange 3 2
1969 Penn State 11–0 W Orange 2 2
1970 Penn State 7–3 19 18
1971 Penn State 11–1 W Cotton 11 5
1972 Penn State 9–3 L Sugar 8 10
1973 Penn State 12–0 W Orange 5 5
1974 Penn State 10–2 W Cotton 7 7
1975 Penn State 9–3 L Sugar 10 10
1976 Penn State 7–5 L Gator
1977 Penn State 11–1 W Fiesta 4 5
1978 Penn State 11–1 L Sugar 4 4
1979 Penn State 8–4 W Liberty 18 20
1980 Penn State 10–2 W Fiesta 8 8
1981 Penn State 10–2 W Fiesta 3 3
1982 Penn State 11–1 W Sugar 1 1
1983 Penn State 8–4–1 W Aloha 17
1984 Penn State 6–5
1985 Penn State 11–1 L Orange 3 3
1986 Penn State 12–0 W Fiesta 1 1
1987 Penn State 8–4 L Citrus
1988 Penn State 5–6
1989 Penn State 8–3–1 W Holiday 14 15
1990 Penn State 9–3 L Blockbuster 10 11
1991 Penn State 11–2 W Fiesta 3 3
1992 Penn State 7–5 L Blockbuster 24
Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten Conference) (1993–present)
1993 Penn State 10–2 6–2 3rd W Citrus 7 8
1994 Penn State 12–0 8–0 1st W Rose 2 2
1995 Penn State 9–3 5–3 T–3rd W Outback 12 13
1996 Penn State 11–2 6–2 T–3rd W Fiesta 7 7
1997 Penn State 9–3 6–2 T–2nd L Citrus 17 16
1998 Penn State 9–3 5–3 5th W Outback 15 17
1999 Penn State 10–3 5–3 T–4th W Alamo 11 11
2000 Penn State 5–7 4–4 T–6th
2001 Penn State 5–6 4–4 T–4th
2002 Penn State 9–4 5–3 4th L Capital One 15 16
2003 Penn State 3–9 1–7 T–8th
2004 Penn State 4–7 2–6 9th
2005 Penn State 11–1 7–1 T–1st W Orange 3 3
2006 Penn State 9–4 5–3 T–4th W Outback 25 24
2007 Penn State 9–4 4–4 T–5th W Alamo 25
2008 Penn State 11–2 7–1 T–1st L Rose 8 8
2009 Penn State 11–2 6–2 T–2nd W Capital One 8 9
Penn State: 394–129–3 86–50
Total: 394–129–3
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

Bowls and championships

Paterno holds more bowl victories (24) than any coach in history. He also tops the list of bowl appearances with 36.[8] He has a bowl record of 24 wins, 11 losses, and 1 tie with his latest win in the 2010 Capital One Bowl. Paterno is the only coach with the distinction of having won each of the current four major bowls—Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar—as well as the Cotton Bowl Classic, at least once. Under Paterno, Penn State has won at least three bowl games each decade since 1970.

Overall, Paterno has led Penn State to two national championships (1982 and 1986) and five undefeated, untied seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, and 1994). Four of his unbeaten teams (1968, 1969, 1973, and 1994) won major bowl games and were not awarded a national championship.

Penn State under Paterno has won the Orange Bowl (1968, 1969, 1973, and 2005), the Cotton Bowl Classic (1972 and 1974), the Fiesta Bowl (1977, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1991, and 1996), the Liberty Bowl (1979), the Sugar Bowl (1982), the Aloha Bowl (1983), the Holiday Bowl (1989), the Citrus Bowl (1993 and 2010), the Rose Bowl (1994), the Outback Bowl (1995, 1998, and 2006) and the Alamo Bowl (1999 and 2007).

Since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1993, Penn State under Paterno has won the Big Ten championship three times (1994, 2005, and 2008). Paterno has had 29 finishes in the Top 10 national rankings.

Awards and honors

Following the 1986 championship season, Paterno was the first college football coach named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2005, following an 11-1 comeback season in which the Lions won a share of the Big Ten title and a BCS berth, Paterno was named the 2005 AP Coach of the Year, and the 2005 Walter Camp Coach of the Year.

On May 16, 2006 Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame after the National Football Foundation decided to change its rules and allow any coach over the age of 75 to be eligible for the Hall of Fame instead of having to wait for an individual to be retired.[9] However, on November 4, 2006, he was injured during a sideline collision that occurred during a game against Wisconsin. As a result of his injuries, he was unable to travel to the induction ceremonies in New York City and the National Football Foundation announced that he would instead be inducted as a part of the Hall of Fame class of 2007.[10] Paterno was inducted on December 4, 2007,[11] and officially enshrined in a ceremony held July 19, 2008.[12] It was announce in March of 2010 that the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia established the "Joseph V. Paterno award" would be awarded annually by the club to the college football coach "who has made a positive impact on his university, his players and his community."[13]

Officiating and instant replay

In 2002, Paterno chased down referee Dick Honig in a dead sprint following a 42-35 overtime home loss to Iowa. Paterno saw Tony Johnson catch a pass for a first down with both feet in bounds on the stadium's video replay board, but the play was ruled an incompletion; Penn State had rallied from a 35-13 deficit with 9 minutes left in the game to tie the score at 35, and were driving on their first possession in overtime for a touchdown to tie the game at 42. Penn State failed on fourth down and Iowa held on for the win.[14]

Just weeks later, in the final minute of the Michigan game, the same wide receiver, Johnson, made a catch, which would have given Penn State a first down and put them in range for a game winning field goal. Although Johnson was ruled out of bounds, replays clearly showed that Johnson had both feet in bounds and the catch would have been complete.[15]

In 2004, the Big Ten Conference became the first college football conference to adopt a form of instant replay. The previous two incidents, along with Paterno's public objections statements, and the Big Ten's Clockgate controversy, are often cited as catalysts for its adoption.[16] Within the next year, almost all of the Division I-A conferences adopted a form of instant replay based on the Big Ten model.[17]


As Penn State football struggled from 2000 to 2004, Paterno became the target of criticism from some Penn State faithful. Many in the media attributed Penn State's struggles to Paterno's advancing age, and contingents of fans and alumni began calling for his retirement. Paterno has rebuffed all of this and stated he would fulfill his contract which would expire in 2008.[18]

Paterno announced in a speech in Pittsburgh on May 12, 2005 that he would consider retirement if the 2005 football team had a disappointing season. "If we don't win some games, I've got to get my rear end out of here", Paterno said in a speech at the Duquesne Club. "Simple as that".[19] However, Penn State finished the season with a record of 11-1 and were champions of the Big Ten in 2005. They defeated Florida State, coached by Bobby Bowden, 26-23 in triple overtime in the 2006 Orange Bowl.

Stances on college football issues

Paterno has long been an advocate for some type of college football playoff system. The question has been posed to him frequently over the years, as only one of his five undefeated teams has been voted national champions.[20][21][22]

Paterno believes that scholarship college athletes should receive a modest stipend, so that they have some spending money. As justification, Paterno points out that many scholarship athletes are from poor families and that other students have time to hold down a part-time job. On the other hand, busy practice and conditioning schedules prevent college athletes from working during the school year.[23]

Paterno once believed that all true freshmen should be redshirted as allowed under NCAA rules.[citation needed] However, he now plays exceptionally talented true freshmen so as not to be at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, some Penn State recruits, like recruits at many other schools, now graduate from high school a semester early so that they can enroll in college during the spring semester and participate in spring practice. Several team members from the recruiting class of 2005, including Justin King, Anthony Scirrotto, and Derrick Williams, received considerable playing time as true freshmen during the 2005-2006 season.[24]

Paterno has been an outspoken opponent of gambling on college sports. He would like to see an end put to legalized college sports gambling in Nevada.[citation needed]

Philanthropist and education

In addition to his legacy as a coach, Paterno is highly regarded for his contributions to academic life at Penn State. After the announcement of his hiring in 1966, Paterno set out to conduct what he called a "Grand Experiment" in melding athletics and academics in the collegiate environment, an idea that he had learned during his years at Brown.[25] As a result, Penn State's players have consistently demonstrated above-average academic success compared to Division I-A schools nationwide. According to the NCAA's 2008 Graduation Rates Report, Penn State's four-year Graduation Success Rate of 78% easily exceeds the 67% Division I average, second to only Northwestern among Big Ten institutions.[26]

Paterno is also renowned for his charitable contributions to academics at Penn State. He and his wife Sue have contributed over $4 million towards various departments and colleges, including support for the Penn State All-Sports Museum, which opened in 2002, and the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, which opened in 2003.[27] After helping raise over $13.5 million in funds for the 1997 expansion of Pattee Library, the University named the expansion Paterno Library in their honor.[28]

In 2007, former player Franco Harris and his company R Super Foods honored Paterno for his contributions to Penn State by featuring his story and picture on boxes of Super Donuts and Super Buns in Central PA. A portion of the sales will be donated to an endowment fund for the university library that bears his name.[29]

Political interests

Paterno is a political conservative and a personal friend of former President George H.W. Bush, endorsing the then-candidate in a speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention.[25] Paterno was also a close personal friend of the late President Gerald R. Ford.[30] In 2004, his son Scott Paterno, an attorney, won the Republican primary for Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district but lost in the November general election to Democratic incumbent Tim Holden.[31]

Personal life

Joe and Sue Paterno have five children: Diana, Jay, Mary Kay, David, and Scott. All of his children are Penn State graduates and he has seventeen grandchildren. One of his children, Jay Paterno, has been quarterbacks coach at Penn State since 1999.

Joe and Sue are the co-authors of the children's book "We Are Penn State!", a book that takes place during a typical Penn State homecoming weekend.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Penn St records show JoePa a millionaire". Associated Press. 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  2. ^ "2005 Brown University Football Media Guide" (pdf). Brown University Sports Information Department. 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  3. ^ Joe Paterno
  4. ^ "Highest earning college football coaches of 2006-07". Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  5. ^ "Penn State's Paterno Staying Put". Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  6. ^ Harrington, Mark (2008-09-20). "JoePa is Back On Top". Fight On State. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  7. ^ "JoePa is Back On Top". 
  8. ^ "Paterno says he has no plans to leave Penn State". 2006-12-04. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  9. ^ "Paterno & Bowden to Receive National Football Foundation's Highest Honor at Hall of Fame Induction". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  10. ^ "Paterno Postpones Hall of Fame Induction". National Football Foundation. 2006-12-21. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  11. ^ Viera, Mark (2007-12-05). "JoePa enters Hall of Fame after 57 years on sidelines". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  12. ^ "Paterno Formally Enshrined in Hall". Fight On State. 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  13. ^ Flounders, Bob (2010-03-05). "Joe Paterno will have college award named after him". The Patriot-News. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  14. ^ Fittipaldo, Ray (2002-10-02). "Paterno says no apology needed". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  15. ^ Frantz, Jeff (2002-10-19). "Coaches critical after botched calls". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  16. ^ Pointer, Michael (2004-08-04). "Big Ten reveals instant replay details". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  17. ^ "Instant Replay rundown for the 2005 season". 2005-08-29. Retrieved 2006-12-26. 
  18. ^ Fittipaldo, Ray (2003-12-20). "Paterno driven to revive Lions". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. D-1.,6489049. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  19. ^ Harlan, Chico (2005-05-13). "Paterno puts career on line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  20. ^ Zeise, Paul (2006-12-04). "Outback Bowl matches Penn State with Tennessee". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  21. ^ Gorman, Kevin (1994-11-02). "Paterno mum on poll puzzle, supports playoffs". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  22. ^ Gorman, Kevin (1995-09-09). "Penn State's title hopes bowled over; no playoff in sight". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  23. ^ Sampsell, Steve (1988-04-26). "College athletes: To pay or not to pay?". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  24. ^ DiSalvo, Pat (2005-10-07). "National Notebook". The Daily Orange. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  25. ^ a b Fittipaldo, Ray (2005-05-23). "When we say JoePa YOU SAY ...". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  26. ^ "Penn State Football Student-Athletes Earn No. 2 Graduation Rate Among AP Top 25 Teams". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  27. ^ "Joe Paterno". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  28. ^ "Paterno Library". 150 Years: Penn State Sesquicentennial. Centre Daily Times. 2005-02-22. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  29. ^ "Franco Harris' bakery honors Paterno on boxes of doughnuts, buns". The Times Tribune. 2007-01-26. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  30. ^ Fernandez, Bernard (2007-01-03). "Forward thinking: Paterno on board with players' great 2007 expectations". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  31. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives - Pennsylvania 17th". 2004 Election Results. 2004-11-23. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rip Engle
Penn State Nittany Lions Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Vince Dooley
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award
Succeeded by
LaVell Edwards
Preceded by
Bobby Bowden
Paul Johnson
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award
Succeeded by
George MacIntyre
Jim Grobe
Preceded by
Lou Holtz
Danny Ford
Fisher DeBerry
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Earle Bruce
Howard Schnellenberger
Dick MacPherson
Preceded by
First recipient
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award
Succeeded by
Dick MacPherson
Preceded by
Bob Devaney
Terry Bowden
Tommy Tuberville
Walter Camp Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Johnny Majors
Gary Barnett
Greg Schiano
Preceded by
Urban Meyer
The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award
Succeeded by
Greg Schiano


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