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Joe Paterno to Be Honored by Penn State at Game vs. Temple

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 1999, file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno paces the sideline in the first quarter against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. The one constant in college football over the last 80 years has been the AP poll. It has helped link the past with the present and provided perspective. (AP Photo/Tom Strickland, File)
Associated Press

The Penn State Nittany Lions will celebrate the 50th anniversary of former head football coach Joe Paterno's first game at the program during their contest against the Temple Owls on Sept. 17.

The school confirmed the anniversary celebration in a press release on Sept. 1, per ESPN.com's Josh Moyer.

On Thursday, athletic director Sandy Barbour released a statement detailing the plans: 

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first game and first victory as head coach. On September 17, commemorative activities will focus on the commitment he had to student-athletes and academics, as well as highlights of the 1966 game.

This Saturday at Beaver Stadium as we face Temple University, we will highlight the student-athletes he impacted. Members of the 1966 team, co-captains Mike Irwin and John Runnells, will be participating in the on-field coin toss. Further in-game introductions of players will take place, along with video presentations on the impact to student-athletes.

Coach Paterno wanted academic success not only for his players but also for every student who came through Penn State. Together with his wife, Sue, they helped countless students become leaders and earn a Penn State diploma. Our plans are consistent with the wishes of the Paterno family as well, with a focus on the players and their accomplishments at Penn State and beyond.

Paterno had been an assistant at Penn State since 1950 and was named head coach before the 1966 season. He led the Nittany Lions to a 5-5 mark in his initial year, with his first victory being a 15-7 win over Maryland on Sept. 17, 1966.

From 1966 to 2011, Paterno led the Nittany Lions to a 409-136-3 record and two national championships (1982, 1986).

In November 2011, Penn State fired Paterno as a result of the child sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, who worked with the program as a graduate assistant in 1966 and an assistant coach from 1969 to 1999. 

The NCAA originally vacated 111 of Paterno's wins, dating back to 1998, following the July 2012 release of the Freeh Report regarding the scandal. But the victories were restored to his record in January 2015 as part of a settlement with Penn State.

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Paterno died Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85. His 409 career victories are the most in major college football history.

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