Penn State overcame a 21 point deficit to beat Northwestern 35-21 on November 6th, 2010, for coach Joe Paterno’s 400th career win. The victory in front of Penn State’s home fans made the 83 year old coaching legend the first major college coach to win 400 games. All of Joe Paterno’s coaching victories have come at Penn State, where he has been the head coach since 1966. Before that, he was an assistant at the school from 1950-1966, making it a total of 60 years of coaching football at Penn State.
The 400th victory was just one more accomplishment in a career filled with them. He is the career leader in bowl appearances with 36, and in bowl victories with 24, including a 6-0 record in the Fiesta Bowl. Paterno’s teams have won two National Championships, in 1982 and 1986, and have finished in the top ten 23 times. He has had five unbeaten, untied teams (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, and 1994). Joe Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Penn State was down a bit from 2000 to 2004, with four losing seasons during that stretch. Predictably, there were some who said Paterno was too old and the game had passed him by. That theory was disproved in the second half of the 2000s when Penn State finished with records of 11-1,9-4 twice, and 11-2 twice. Penn State won four out of five bowl games during that time. Paterno is under contract through the 2011 season.
Penn State has had 31 of its players become NFL first round draft picks in the Joe Paterno Era. Three of his players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. These include linebacker Jack Ham and fullback Franco Harris who played on the great Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s; and offensive lineman Mike Munchak, who played for the Houston Oilers in the 1980s and early 90s.
Paterno has always stressed academic success as well as athletic success. While JoePa, as he is known, was proud of his latest career milestone and was clearly enjoying the moment, he was already looking forward to Penn State’s next opponent. He concluded his post game comments to the crowd with “now that the celebration’s over, let’s go beat Ohio State”.
Penn State Official Athletic Website–Football
Penn State rallies to get JoePa 400th victory