Joseph Vincent Paterno (born December 21, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York) is a coach of Pennsylvania State University's college football team.
Paterno began life as the child of the Depression. He nearly had to leave high school because the tuition of $20 a month was such a burden for his family. In 1944, Paterno graduated from Brooklyn Prep and headed to Brown University to study and play football.
At Brown, Paterno was a capable but unspectacular quarterback. He did hone his skills as a leader. After graduation in 1950, Paterno joined Hall of Famer Rip Engel at Penn State as an assistant coach.
Upon Engel's retirement in 1965, Paterno was named coach of the Nittany Lions for the 1966 season. Paterno was just 5-5 for 1966. The following season he led the Lions to 8 wins and the Gator Bowl.
Paterno had his first undefeated season in 1968. He followed it by going undefeated in 1969. From 1973 to 1983, Paterno's teams made a bowl game after every season. He also claimed his first national title in 1982.
Many thought Paterno crowned his Hall of Fame resume by going 12-0 with a national championship in 1986, but Paterno was not finished. He continued to field a top team throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.
In 1994, led by quarterback Kerry Collins, Paterno's team went undefeated for a fifth time. They were denied the national title, however, finishing second to undefeated Nebraska.
Still coaching at age 77, Paterno has since broken the record for most wins in NCAA Division I football. He currently stands second, behind Bobby Bowden of Florida State University, with 339 wins.
With his program not as successful as in the past, Paterno has endured a controversial period with the media calling for his retirement. Paterno has rebuffed all calls for his retirement and has stated he will fulfill his contract which runs out in 2006.
Paterno is an icon at Penn State. In 2000, Joe, and wife Sue, gave Penn State $2 million to expand the library which was named the Paterno Library in their honor. The 2004 season will be his 55th season at the University either as an assistant or head coach, a record for any football coach at any university.