UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When head coach Rip Engle named Joe Paterno, his senior quarterback at Brown, to the Penn State coaching staff and assigned him to coach the quarterbacks on May 27, 1950, little did he know that 61 years later Paterno would still be on the staff in Happy Valley.
In a career full of milestones, Coach Paterno will reach another on Saturday when the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana. It will be game No. 700 on the Penn State staff for the Brooklyn, N.Y. native. The Hall of Fame head coach served as an assistant for 16 seasons before taking the reigns of the program on Feb. 19, 1966 at an annual salary of $20,000.
A coaching career spanning more than
six decades at one institution is something that will likely never happen
again. Penn State has compiled a
508-184-7 record since Coach Paterno joined the staff. The Nittany Lions rank No. 3 in win
percentage since 1950. Since he became
head coach in 1966, there have been 886 coaching changes at FBS schools.
During his tenure on the staff, Coach Paterno has missed just three games in 61-plus years. As an assistant coach, he missed the 1955 game at Army when his father, Angelo, died. As head coach in 1977, Joe and Sue Paterno's son, David, was involved in a serious trampoline accident the day before the Lions' game at Syracuse and Paterno did not attend the contest. Coach Paterno missed the Nov. 11, 2006 game with Temple, which took place five days after he had surgery on his left leg, which was injured in a sideline collision at Wisconsin on Nov. 4.
Coach Paterno has served as head coach for the Nittany Lions in 66 different away stadiums. Saturday will be the Nittany Lions' sixth game in Bloomington, but the first as Big Ten Leaders Division rivals.
Since he arrived in 1950, Coach Paterno has seen the University Park campus grow from an enrollment of 11,132 to more than 40,000. The State College population has grown from 17,227 in 1950 to 42,034 (2010 U.S. Census). The landscape of the town, University and college football have all changed, but the identity of Penn State Football has not.
Take a look at a brief timeline on the way to game No. 700 for Coach Paterno on the Penn State staff.
May 27, 1950 - Head coach Rip Engle named Joe Paterno to the coaching staff
and assigned him to coach the quarterbacks.
September 30, 1950 - In his first game on the staff, Penn State defeated Georgetown, 34-14, before a crowd of 16,617 at New Beaver Field.
October 29, 1960 - Coach Paterno participated in his 100th game on the coaching staff. The Nittany Lions defeated West Virginia, 34-13, at Beaver Stadium.
September 17, 1966 - A 38-year-old Joe Paterno won his first career game in front of a crowd of 40,911 inside Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions ousted Maryland, 15-7, behind a team record three safeties from Mike Reid. Coach Paterno was awarded the game ball following the victory, one of just two times in his career.
September 26, 1970 - In Coach Paterno's 200th game on the Penn State coaching staff, the Nittany Lions suffered a 41-13 setback at Colorado, snapping the Nittany Lions' 31-game unbeaten streak.
January 1, 1972 - Following a deflating loss to Tennessee in the final game of the regular season, the Nittany Lions rallied from 6-3 down at halftime to stun Texas, 30-6 in the Cotton Bowl. The win was labeled "one of the greatest victories in school history" by Coach Paterno.
October 21, 1978 - The Nittany Lions defeated Syracuse, 45-15, during Coach Paterno's 300th game on the staff.
January 1, 1983 - Penn State won its first National Championship with a superb effort against previously No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Todd Blackledge tossed a crucial fourth quarter touchdown of 46 yards to Gregg Garrity. Curt Warner out-dueled Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker with 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Lions.
November 22, 1986 - Penn State knocked off Pittsburgh, 34-14, in Coach Paterno's 400th career game on the coaching staff. The victory clinched a perfect regular season for the Nittany Lions in 1986.
January 2, 1987 - The Nittany Lions claimed their second National Championship in four seasons by shocking the nation in a 14-10 upset of then No. 1 Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. Led by All-American linebacker Shane Conlan, the Penn State defense stopped Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde and the Hurricane offense at the goal line on the final series of the game. Linebacker Pete Giftopoulos hauled in Testaverde's fifth interception of the game on the goal line to seal the Penn State title.
September 23, 1995 - Penn State defeated Rutgers in Giants Stadium, 59-34, in
Coach Paterno's 500th career game on the Nittany Lion staff.
October 27, 2001 - In one of the greatest Penn State comebacks in Beaver Stadium history, the Nittany Lions rallied from a 27-9 deficit to defeat rival Ohio State and give Coach Paterno his 324th career victory. The win moved Coach Paterno past Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant into the all-time victories lead in Division I college football history.
September 27, 2003 - The Lions suffered a 20-14 setback to Minnesota during Coach Paterno's 600th game on the staff.
November 6, 2010 - Coach Paterno captured his 400th career victory inside Beaver Stadium, which was also the site of his first, 100th, 200th, 300th, 324th and 400th victories. The game was the biggest comeback in Beaver Stadium history during the Joe Paterno era. Down 21-0 in the second quarter, Penn State rattled off 35 unanswered to score a 35-21 victory over Northwestern.
October 1, 2011 - When the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana on Saturday, it will mark Coach Paterno's 700th game on the Penn State coaching staff.
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