UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It is with great pleasure to wish college football's greatest coach a Happy 84th Birthday, today. Coach Paterno will be celebrating in Clearwater on the practice field as the Nittany Lions go through a double session.
What he has done for Penn State University cannot be expressed in words. He has spent 61 of his 84 years on the Nittany Lion coaching staff. He is the Division I all-time leader in victories. He has two national championships. He is the only Division I coach to reach 400 victories. His coaching resume is second to none in college football.
But it's the people Coach Paterno has produced that will carry on his legacy long after his football career is over. He has impacted so many lives in his time at Penn State. Most Penn State fans will remember the star athletes he has produced, but you forget about the hundreds of players who went on to have successful careers outside of football as doctors, entrepreneurs or lawyers, to name a few.
He and wife Sue have donated millions of dollars to Penn State, which includes helping lead a $13.75 million dollar fundraising effort to create what is now known as the Paterno Library. The 140,000 square-foot portion of the library dedicated to the Paterno family for their fundraising efforts opened in 2000. His contribution to the library is probably the most well-known donation to the university.
The Paterno family has lived in the same house on McKee Street in State College for virtually his entire tenure as head coach. When driving past, onlookers would have no idea that a Hall of Fame head coach lives inside. And he wouldn't want it any other way. He is the most generous man in the community and does not seek any attention from the media.
Coach Paterno will be spending his birthday where he belongs - on the practice field with khaki pants, black Nike shoes and a plain gray sweatshirt. People from around the country wonder why a man, who is now 84, still has an interest in coaching 18-22 year-olds, but football is what he knows best and he wouldn't change a thing.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure to meet Coach Paterno in person, it is nearly impossible to exactly describe what his personality is like. He is truly a special human being.
With that in mind, we have compiled a collection of Coach Paterno quotes to help commemorate this special day for the legend in charge of the Penn State football program.
"Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks."
"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality."
"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."
"Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy."
"You need to play with supreme confidence, or else you'll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit."
"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital."
"Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things."
"You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That's the mark of a true professional."
"Publicity is like poison; it doesn't hurt unless you swallow it."
"It's the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back."
"I don't know exactly where to start. It's been fun. I have enjoyed every minute of my career or I never would have stayed in it. Never intended to coach when I came here, but I enjoyed the town so much and enjoyed the competition and the people and made me comfortable and I just decided, 'hey, this might be the best for me.'"
He has seen countless football games. His lifetime has spanned 14 different presidents. Coach Paterno was born on Dec. 21, 1926 in Brooklyn. He may be 84, but he doesn't coach like he is a day over 60. Enjoy the day and flip on an old game as a reminder for how lucky Penn State has been to have an iconic figure leading its football program for the past half century.
Happy Birthday, Coach Paterno. Enjoy the sunshine. We look forward to seeing you on the sidelines for the Outback Bowl in less than two weeks.