Joe Paterno's statistical legacy

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
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Here’s a look back at Joe Paterno’s coaching career from a statistical perspective.

Paterno won 409 games, the most of anyone in major college football history. That total ranks second all-time among college coaches in all divisions to John Gagliardi’s 484 (Gagliardi is the head coach for St. John’s, a Division III school in Minnesota).

Paterno averaged 8.9 wins per season as Penn State’s head coach. He also holds the NCAA records for most bowl appearances (37) and bowl wins (24). He was 24-12-1 in bowl games.

He had 24 bowl wins as Penn State’s head coach. Only six teams other than Penn State have won more bowl games in their history.

While at Penn State, Paterno defeated 80 different teams. Oklahoma and Florida were the only teams that Paterno faced MORE than once without a win (0-2 vs both).

Paterno debuted as Penn State’s head coach on September 17, 1966, as the Nittany Lions defeated Maryland, 15-7. He coached the team to five undefeated seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, and 1994), winning his first national title on January 1, 1983 when Penn State defeated No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, 27-23.

Paterno has been the record-holder for wins by an FBS coach since Oct. 27, 2001, when Penn State defeated Ohio State, 29-27 for career win No. 324, breaking the mark he shared with Bear Bryant.

His 409th and final win, breaking the NCAA Division I record shared with Eddie Robinson, came with a 10-7 triumph over Illinois on October 29, 2011.

Paterno’s 46 seasons as a head coach are the second-most in major college history, trailing only Amos Alonzo Stagg’s 57.

His 46 seasons are by far the most of anyone who coached a major college program and never coached another team (Frank Howard and Dan McGugin are second with 30 seasons at Clemson and Vanderbilt, respectively).

Paterno finished with 548 career games coached, matching Stagg’s total.

Paterno’s Penn State tenure (including 16 years as assistant coach) spanned 61 years and 12 U.S. Presidential administrations. He was the head coach for 46 seasons, for more than one-third of the games played by the program in its 125-year history.

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