Joe Paterno: Alabama Loses Historic Rival Coach

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IIJanuary 22, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 22:  A student pays his respects at the statue of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach, outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Paterno, who was 85 years old, died due to complications from lung cancer. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Joe Paterno has passed away at 85 years of age. He was the head coach of Penn State longer than many readers have been alive, and he had a storied tradition with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

ABC News has made the confirmation of his death.  

The Penn State Nittany Lions first faced the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1959 Liberty Bowl. The meeting of the two seemed like a one-time deal for over a decade.  

In 1975, fate would dictate that another meeting was necessary, and the two teams clashed in the 1975 Sugar Bowl, which Alabama narrowly won, 13-6. It was the first time Bear Bryant and Joe Paterno faced each other as head coaches.   

An out-of-conference rivalry began to brew and became official in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, when No. 2-ranked Alabama faced No. 1-ranked Penn State. After the legendary "Goal Line Stand," Alabama narrowly won that game as well, 14-7.  

The teams met two more times in 1981 and 1982 before Bear Bryant left coaching and the Tide won in convincing fashion. Paterno never defeated him as a head coach. 

For 10 straight years (1981-1990), the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Penn State Nittany Lions had one of college football's hottest out-of-conference rivalries. During that decade, the Tide had the edge, winning six of the 10 games.  

Penn State got the last laugh, however. In 1990, Penn State was the opposition for Alabama's homecoming game. The Lions went home victors with a 9-0 win over the Tide.  

After that embarrassing moment for the Tide, the rivalry went on hiatus. It was not renewed until 2010 when the Tide, the incumbent national champions, hosted Penn State in Tuscaloosa. 

The Tide's season looked promising after the convincing 24-3 victory over the Lions, but the fans in crimson were good hosts. "Rammer Jammer" was not played after the victory.  

This year the Tide traveled Happy Valley, a tough venue, and repeated the victory. It was during the game that Tide fan's saw rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron come into his own against a stout defense. 

The rivalry between Penn State and Alabama was always a great one, and it is unfortunate that it fell from the minds of fans until its rekindling in 2010. 

Penn State has lost a legendary coach, but Alabama has also lost one of the few remaining relics from the days of Paul "Bear" Bryant.