Like Father, Like Son:How Jay Paterno Found Himself Coaching With Joe Pa

Thomas Mickens Jr.Contributor IJuly 26, 2009

 Jay Paterno is more than a coach’s son.  Growing up, he was barely around his father, Joe Paterno. While Joe Paterno was building a rich tradition, his son was working hard on developing the sports roots he had inherited, the ones that dug so deep within his heart.

Jay Paterno said that he always wanted to play sports. His father would always tell him to do something better in his life, but jay could never give it up.  Despite the fact that he pushed himself to excel in athletics, he preaches the same thing to his kids that Joe Paterno did to him. “I always tell my kids to pick up a book when they tell me they want to play football.” Jay Paterno said.

Jay Paterno became a reserve quarterback for Penn State. During his years in Happy Valley, he was a part of the 1986 national championship team. Jay Paterno said that he was not National Football League material, so he ventured out to coach---just like his father.

Jay Paterno kicked off his coaching career as the graduate assistant coach for Virginia.  After three years with the Cavaliers, Jay Paterno became the wide receiver and tight ends coach for Connecticut in 1992.  In 1994, Jay Paterno became the quarterback’s coach at James Madison helping them reach to the second round in the Division I-AA playoffs.

After the 1994 playoff appearance, Jay Paterno made his way back to Penn State. He started out as a tight end and wide receiver coach, but became the Quarterback Coach in 2000 where he reunited with his dad. “When I walk through that door, he’s not my father.” Jay Paterno said.  Jay Paterno later describes how he and his father become as infuriated with each other as they do with the other coaches on the staff. Bringing fruition to the fact that on the field they’re strictly engaging in a professional relationship.

Jay Paterno realized that his dad was never with him as a kid. It seems that playing and coaching football has forever connected Jay Paterno to his father. Jay Paterno said that through all the times his father was not there, 15 years coaching with his dad has made up for it.