Joe Paterno Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Joe Paterno was born on December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Education And College Athletics
As a young adult, Joe Paterno went on to attend Brown University. While attending this school, Paterno was also a member of the football team. On the team, he played as a quarterback. In this last football season of his college career, Paterno helped his team win almost every game, only losing one the entire season. He later graduated from this school in 1950.
Paterno’s college football coach, Rip Engle, left Brown University after Joe Paterno graduated to coach instead at Penn State. He remembered Paterno fondly and requested that he work as his assistant coach. It was a job offer that Paterno couldn’t refuse! He gladly accepted the job. For the next sixteen years, Paterno worked at Penn State as Engle’s assistant.
In 1966, Engle retired, and Paterno was promoted to the position of coach for Penn State’s football team. During his first year as coach, Joe Paterno struggles to get his bearings, but by the end of the season, his team had managed to win half of the games. Joe Paterno did much better at coaching the next year, only losing two of the games. His team also made it to the Gator Bowl. For the last two years of the decade, his team won every single game and went to the Orange Bowl in both seasons, winning both times.
The 1970’s continued to be a wonderful time for Joe Paterno and his team. In every season in this decade, his team won more than half of their games. In 1973, the tea even won every single game. The team’s average was to win between 80-90% of the games. Joe Paterno also helped his team to earn coveted places in several Bowls, including the Cotton Bowl (1971 and 1974), the Sugar Bowl (1975 and 1978), the Orange Bowl (1973), the Gator Bowl (1976), the Fiesta Bowl (1977), and the Liberty Bowl (1979). Out of these Bowls, Paterno’s team won all of them except for the two Sugar Bowls and the Gator Bowl.
The 1980’s were not as productive for the team. The first seasons of the decade were great, until 1984. In this year, the team only won six games. This was the poorest Paterno's team had been his first year coaching. However, they sprung back up in the next two seasons, winning 11/12 games before winning all of the games in the 1986 season. Then, in 1988, the team fumbled again, only winning five games. Even with their up and down seasons, the team still managed to make it into many Bowls, including the Fiesta Bowl (1980, 1981, and 1986), the Sugar Bowl (1982), the Aloha Bowl (1983), the Orange Bowl (1985), the Citrus Bowl (1987), and the Holiday Bowl (1989). Out of these, the team only lost the Orange Bowl and Citrus Bowl.
The 1990’s were one of Paterno’s best decades yet. The team had its high point in 1994 when it won every game of the season and won the Rose Bowl. Its low point was in 1992 when the team only won five games and lost the Blockbuster Bowl. Throughout the rest of the decade, the team averaged winning about 70-80% of their games. The team also managed to get into a Bowl every year. Their winning Bowls included the Fiesta Bowl (1991 and 1996), the Citrus Bowl (1993), the Hall of Fame Bowl (1995), the Outback Bowl (1998), and the Alamo Bowl (1999), as well as the ones previously mentioned.
The 2000’s brought in a rough patch for Joe Paterno and his team. In 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004, the team lost more than half of their games. In the first half of this decade, the team only entered the Capital One Bowl and the Orange Bowl, and they lost the Orange Bowl. The second half of the decade fared much better for Joe Paterno and his team. However, they had no seasons in which they won every game. They were entered into several bowls, winning the Outback Bowl (2006), the Alamo Bowl (2007), and the Capital One Bowl (2009). After the 2011 season, Joe Paterno retired from this coaching career.
Awards And Accomplishments
All of Joe Paterno’s awards are due to his coaching career. Some of his most impressive awards are listed below.
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year - 1978, 1982, and 1986
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award - 1986
Paul “Bear: Bryant Award - 1986
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award - 2002
Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year - 2005
The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award - 2005
Joe Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Joe Paterno married Sue Pohland in 1962. This couple had five children: Diana, David, Jay, Mary, and Scott; all of the Paterno children also attended and graduated from Penn State. Together, this couple also has over a dozen grandchildren.
Cancer And Death
After retiring, Joe Paterno discovered that he had lung cancer. The diagnosis was officially made in 2011. At first, the lung cancer seemed treatable, but it progressed terrifyingly fast. Joe Paterno died on January 22, 2012, in Pennsylvania, USA, due to his lung cancer. He was 85 years old when he passed away.