Penn State Football: Top 5 Coaches Before Joe Paterno

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2012

Penn State Football: Top 5 Coaches Before Joe Paterno

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    When we thought about Penn State football coaches, we could only think of Joe Paterno. Now, when we think about Penn State football coaches, we can only think of Joe Paterno and Bill O'Brien.

    Are there men that had success at PSU that have been forgotten? Is there any way we can give them the credit they deserve?

    Here are the top five coaches that led the Nittany Lions before JoePa led the way.

No. 5: George Hoskins (1892-1895)

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    In four seasons as head coach, George Hoskins amassed a school-best 17-4-4 record.

    In 1894, Penn State went undefeated with a record of 6-0-1. The team only allowed 18 points in those seven games.

    Hoskins saw the team through the transition to "Beaver Field."

No. 4: Bob Higgins (1930-1948)

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    During his 19 years at Penn State, Higgins improved the team from a squad that lost to Colgate by 40 to a team ranked No. 4 in the country.

    His record as head coach was 91-57-11.

    Higgins' first big win came when his team beat No. 18 Syracuse, 34-19. His best season ended with a Cotton Bowl appearance in 1947. That team had a record of 9-0-1.

No. 3: Hugo Bezdek (1918-1929)

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    The Los Angeles said he "change[d] the style of his eleven's play almost as much as a woman changes her mind."

    This seemed to work for the good fellow, as he led his teams to a 65-30-11 record which included two undefeated seasons.

    Hugo's Nittany Lions made the Rose Bowl in 1923.

    Bezdek probably should have stuck with Penn State, because when he tried to coach in the NFL, he floundered with a 1-13 record as head coach of the Cleveland Rams.

No. 2: Bill Hollenback (1909, 1911-1914)

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    In Hollenback's five years at Penn State, he compiled a record of 28-9-4.

    Three of those seasons were undefeated seasons for Penn State. Two retroactive national championships were awarded to Hollenback's teams.

    Hollenback was known for having tough teams. Ohio State once forfeited a game in which they were losing 37-0 because of Penn State's rough play.

No. 1: Rip Engle (1950-1965)

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    Right before Joe Paterno took over, Rip Engle led the Nittany Lions for 16 years.

    He never had a losing season and compiled an overall record of 104-48-4 with Penn State.

    Engle won three bowl games and had the Nittany Lions ranked as high as ninth in the nation during his reign as head coach.

    Rip fared much better as a football coach than a basketball coach, as his hard court record was a less-than-stellar 29-44.

    Engle was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.