Joe Paterno Nears Incredible Milestone for Penn State Football

Mike MuellerContributor IINovember 3, 2010

Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is one win away from an FBS record 400th career victory
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is one win away from an FBS record 400th career victoryKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Could you imagine if Joe Paterno had to update his résumé? It’s a real possibility with his contract coming up next year. There is no way that guy can fit everything one page!

JoePa will have to make room for one more milestone, perhaps as soon as this weekend against Northwestern. One more win would make the Nittany Lions bowl eligible, but it would also be career victory No. 400 for Paterno.

Paterno would be the first FBS coach to reach the 400-win plateau and likely the last coach at a major school to achieve this feat. His career record of 399-132-3 is the best in FBS history and third all-time in the NCAA.

Only John Gagliardi of St. John’s (Minn) and Eddie Robinson at Grambling State have compiled more wins. Gagliardi is in his record 62nd season (one year longer than JoePa) coaching and has racked up a majority of his 476 wins with the Johnnies.

Robinson spent all 56 years coaching at Grambling State and compiled a 408-168-15 record. If JoePa sticks around, he would be the next guy Paterno would likely pass next season.

The only guy who had a shot at Paterno would have been former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, but the ‘Noles forced him out last year, and thanks to some NCAA rules violations, his record dipped back to 377-129-4.

As great as Gagliardi and Robinson have been, they pale in comparison to Joe Paterno. It’s one thing to win at the Division III level like Gagliardi has, but I’m sorry, beating Gustavus Adolphus College is not an impressive win. JoePa has done it at the highest level and sustained that success for 45 seasons against tougher opponents.

This is an accomplishment that we may never see again in football history. The pressure to win and recruit is so great now that it will likely force most coaches out of the game before they even have a chance to retire (Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio are on the fast track). Paterno’s longevity to coach this long is impressive enough, but the fact that it’s been at the same school for 61 years is just remarkable.

There have been 863 Division I-A head coaching changes since Joe Paterno took over at Penn State in 1966. That’s an average of six different coaches at every school. Chances are if you’ve been at a place that long, you’ve probably won a few games over your career. So far JoePa’s up to 399.

Whether you like him or hate him, think he should retire or not, you have to respect the overall body of work from Joe Paterno.

- 61 seasons at Penn State (45 as head coach)

- 36 bowl appearances and 24 bowl victories (FBS record)

- Only coach to win four traditional January bowl games (Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange)

- First of three active coaches inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame

- Two national titles ('82, '86)

- Five unbeaten seasons ('68, '69, '73, '86, '94)

- Five-time AFCA Coach of the Year (another record)

- Four million dollars donated by he and his wife Sue to Penn State.


That’s just cracking the surface. Like I said, no way it fits on one page.