For many it is hard to imagine Penn state without Joe Paterno.
He has been involved in the university, and not just on the football field, for nearly sixty years.
Joseph Vincent Paterno lived for Penn State Football.
After graduating from Brown University in 1950, Joe Paterno followed his college coach, Rip Engle, to Penn State, as Engle’s assistant.
When Engle retired after the 1965 season, Paterno was named his successor.
Soon, his thick glasses, rolled up khaki pants and white socks, would become the image every Penn State fan knew and loved.
The Nittany Lions went undefeated in 1968, 1969, and 1973. Finally in 1978 Penn State reached the number one spot in the national polls. Exaclty four years later, the Nittany Lions became the champions of college football when they defeated the University of Georgia to give the program its first national championship. Paterno led the Nittany Lions to a second national title after going 12 and 0 in the 1986 season.
Paterno was the head coach of Penn State for 45 seasons. He finished his career with 409 victories, and 24 bowl wins. He is the winningest coach in major college football history.
On December 4, 2007, Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
But Paterno’s accomplishments on the football field are only part of the legacy he left behind at Penn State.
In 1998 Paterno and his wife Sue, gave the university a 3.5 million dollar gift to endow faculty positions and scholarships. The next year, the 26.5 million dollar Paterno Library opened.
After spending over six decades on the sidelines at Penn State, Paterno will forever be one of the most recognizable figures in the history of college football.