Close Button
Photo by: National Underclassmen Football Combine

NFF Statement on the Passing of Joe Paterno

Courtesy: National Football Foundation
          Release: January 23, 2012
Send this article to a friend Print RSS
DALLAS, Jan. 22, 2012 - Coach Joe Paterno, a 2007 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame from Penn State, passed away today at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pa. He was 85.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Coach Paterno. He stands at the very top of the mountain in terms of his coaching accomplishments, and his dedication to the education of his players set the standard for entire college football world. On multiple occasions, the National Football Foundation saluted his never-ending passion and commitment to the game. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sue, his family, and the entire Penn State community," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning and NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell in a joint statement.

The National Football Foundation honored Paterno multiple times during his career. In 2006, he claimed the NFF Gold Medal, the organization's highest honor, in recognition of his impact on the nation. In 1992, the organization presented him with its Distinguished American Award for his contributions to the game of amateur football. In 1997, NFF Board Member William A. Schreyer, a Penn State alumnus, endowed in perpetuity an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award in Paterno's name. In 2007, he became one of the first three active coaches ever to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Paterno coached eight College Football Hall of Fame players and 16 NFF National Scholar-Athletes. (See below for the lists.) A longtime supporter of the NFF Chapter Network, Paterno lent his time, energy and name to the activities of countless chapters, especially the Central Pennsylvania Chapter.

In 2011, Paterno became the winningest coach in major college football history with a final career record of 409-136-3 and a 74.9 winning percentage. He led the Nittany Lions to two national championships, five undefeated seasons and a top 25 national ranking 35 times. Paterno was also the all-time leader in bowl victories with a 24-12-1 record, giving him a 66.2 winning percent percentage and a No. 3 ranking among coaches with at least 15 bowl appearances.

No coach has been as synonymous with one school as Paterno. In 2007, he eclipsed Amos Alonzo Stagg's major college record of 41 years as the head coach at one school, a mark Paterno extended to an astounding 46 years. Paterno began his coaching career as an assistant at Penn State in 1950 under fellow Hall of Fame coach Rip Engle. Engle had coached Paterno as a college quarterback at Brown University, and when Engle left Brown to take the Penn State job, he recruited Paterno to join his staff. Paterno became head coach in 1966.

After a 5-5 season his first year, Paterno took the Nittany Lions to a bowl game in his second, and had undefeated teams in his third and fourth seasons. That stretch produced a 31-game unbeaten streak. The five-time National Coach of the Year also had an undefeated team in 1973 and had three one-loss seasons prior to winning his first national title in 1982. Four years later, Paterno won his second national crown, defeating Miami (FL) in the Fiesta Bowl and completing his fourth undefeated season. A fifth undefeated team would follow in 1994.

In 2001, Paterno passed Hall of Fame coach Paul "Bear" Bryant as college football's all-time winningest coach in Football Bowl Subdivision history with his 324th all-time victory. In 2011, Paterno passed Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson with his 409th victory, becoming the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history.

College Football Hall of Fame players coached by Paterno (with year of induction) include Mike Reid (1987), Ted Kwalick (1989), Jack Ham (1990), John Cappelletti (1993), Dennis Onkotz (1995), Lydell Mitchell (2004), Keith Dorney (2005), and Curt Warner (2009).

NFF National Scholar-Athletes coached by Paterno include David Joyner (1971), Bruce Bannon (1972), Mark Markovich (1973), John Baronas (1974), Charles Correal (1978), John Walsh (1980), Carmen Masciantonio (1984), Lance Hamilton (1985), Brian Siverling (1986), Matthew Johnson (1987), Tony Pittman (1994), Jeff Hartings (1995), Wally Richardson (1996), Aaron Collins (1997), Paul Posluszny (2006), and Stefen Wisniewski (2010).

Paterno was born December 21, 1926 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has five children and 17 grandchildren.

Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 121 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, Play It Smart, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF presents the MacArthur Bowl, the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, and releases the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings. For more information, please visit

Gatorade Sponsor
NFA ad
Latest Tweets

Schuman Enter
Schuman's National Underclassmen Combine
Ultimate 100 Camp
Trench Warfare Drip Pan
Gatorade Drip Pan
Air Raid Drip Pan