Joseph Vincent "Joe" Paterno (born December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York), is an American football coach and the current head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, a position he has held since 1966. Paterno, nicknamed "JoePa," holds the record for the most victories by a FBS football coach, and has coached more bowl game wins and undefeated seasons than any other coach in college football history. Paterno is one of four active coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (along with Chris Ault, Bobby Bowden, and John Gagliardi).
Joe Paterno grew up during the Great Depression and nearly had to leave high school because the tuition of $20 a month was such a burden for his family. In 1944, Paterno graduated from Brooklyn Prep and headed to Brown University to study and play football. At Brown he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Upsilon chapter). There, he was a quarterback and also played cornerback. He currently still shares, along with Greg Parker, the Brown U. record for career interceptions with 14. Paterno is a member of the Brown University Class of 1950. Paterno joined his college coach Rip Engle as an assistant coach at Penn State in 1950; Engle, who coached five seasons—1944-49—at Brown, had coached Paterno.
 Records and accomplishments
At age 82, Paterno is in his 60th season on the Penn State coaching staff in 2009, holding the record for most seasons for any football coach at any university. The 2009 season is Paterno’s 44th as head coach of the Nittany Lions, passing Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most years as head coach at a single institution.
The Pittsburgh Steelers offered their head coach position to Paterno in 1969, an offer he considered seriously. The Steelers ended up hiring Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls in his first 11 years, and coached for an additional twelve seasons.
Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham contacted Paterno in 1969 to see if Paterno (whom Canham respected and knew personally) would accept the vacant Michigan job. Paterno turned down the offer and Michigan went on to hire Bo Schembechler. In 1972, Paterno also turned down a head coaching position with the New England Patriots, which included an ownership position. The Pats hired Chuck Fairbanks instead.
After five years of court battles, the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) revealed Paterno's salary in November 2007: $512,664. (He was paid $490,638 in 2006.) The figure is not inclusive of other compensation, such as money from television and apparel contracts as well as other bonuses that Paterno and other football bowl subdivision coaches may earn, said Robert Gentzel, SERS communications director. The release of these amounts can only come at the university's approval, which Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said will not happen. By comparison, the salary of Nick Saban, the highest paid college football coach during 2006-2007, was $4,000,000. "I'm paid well, I'm not overpaid," Paterno said during an interview with reporters Wednesday before the salary disclosure. "I got all the money I need."
On December 16, 2008, it was reported that Paterno had agreed in principle to a contract extension that would extend his tenure at Penn State by at least three years.
Joe Paterno has a career record of 384 wins, 127 losses, and 3 ties (0.7495). In his 43 seasons as a head coach, he has had 37 winning seasons (tying him with Bear Bryant). Based on the criteria used by the NCAA, Paterno holds the record for most victories by a Division IA-FBS football coach.
Bowls and championships
Paterno holds more bowl victories (23) than any coach in history. He also tops the list of bowl appearances with 35. He has a bowl record of 23 wins, 11 losses, and 1 tie with his latest loss in the 2009 Rose Bowl. Paterno is the only coach with the distinction of having won each of the current four major bowls—Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar—as well as the Cotton Bowl, at least once. Under Paterno, Penn State has won at least three bowl games each decade since 1970.
Overall, Paterno has led Penn State to two national championships (1982 and 1986) and five undefeated, untied seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, and 1994). Four of his unbeaten teams (1968, 1969, 1973, and 1994) won major bowl games and were not awarded a national championship.
Penn State under Paterno has won the Orange Bowl (1968, 1969, 1973, and 2005), the Cotton Bowl (1972 and 1974), the Fiesta Bowl (1977, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1991, and 1996), the Liberty Bowl (1979), the Sugar Bowl (1982), the Aloha Bowl (1983), the Holiday Bowl (1989), the Citrus Bowl (1993), the Rose Bowl (1994), the Outback Bowl (1995, 1998, and 2006) and the Alamo Bowl (1999 and 2007).
Since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1993, Penn State under Paterno has won the Big Ten championship three times (1994, 2005 and 2008). Paterno has had 29 finishes in the Top 10 national rankings
Following the 1986 championship season, Paterno was the first college football coach named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2005, following an 11-1 comeback season in which the Lions won a share of the Big Ten title and a BCS berth, Paterno was named the 2005 AP Coach of the Year, and the 2005 Walter Camp Coach of the Year.
* Amos Alonzo Stagg Award - 2002
* Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award - 1981, 2005
* Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year - 1978, 1982, 1986
* Paul "Bear" Bryant Award - 1986
* The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award - 2005
* Walter Camp Coach of the Year - 1972, 1994, 2005
* Dave McClain Big Ten Coach of the Year - 2008
On May 16, 2006 Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame after the National Football Foundation decided to change its rules and allow any coach over the age of 75 to be eligible for the Hall of Fame instead of having to wait for an individual to be retired. However, on November 4, 2006, he was injured during a sideline collision that occurred during a game against Wisconsin. As a result of his injuries, he was unable to travel to the induction ceremonies in New York City and the National Football Foundation announced that he would instead be inducted as a part of the Hall of Fame class of 2007. Paterno was inducted on December 4, 2007, and officially enshrined in a ceremony held July 19, 2008.
Officiating and instant replay
In 2002, Paterno chased down referee Dick Honig in a dead sprint following a 42-35 overtime home loss to Iowa. Paterno saw Tony Johnson catch a pass for a first down with both feet in bounds on the stadium's video replay board, but the play was ruled an incompletion; Penn State had rallied from a 35-13 deficit with 9 minutes left in the game to tie the score at 35, and were driving on their first possession in overtime for a touchdown to tie the game at 42. Penn State failed on fourth down and Iowa held on for the win.
Just weeks later, in the final minute of the Michigan game, the same wide receiver, Johnson, made a catch, which would have given Penn State a first down and put them in range for a game winning field goal. Although Johnson was ruled out of bounds, replays clearly showed that Johnson had both feet in bounds and the catch would have been complete.
In 2004, the Big Ten Conference became the first college football conference to adopt a form of instant replay. The previous two incidents, along with Paterno's public objections statements, and the Big Ten's Clockgate controversy, are often cited as catalysts for its adoption. Within the next year, almost all of the Division I-A conferences adopted a form of instant replay based on the Big Ten model.
Stances on college football issues
ars, as only one of his five undefeated teams has been voted national champions.
Paterno believes that scholarship college athletes should receive a modest stipend, so that they have some spending money. As justification, Paterno points out that many scholarship athletes are from poor families and that other students have time to hold down a part-time job. On the other hand, busy practice and conditioning schedules prevent college athletes from working during the school year.
Paterno once believed that all true freshmen should be redshirted as allowed under NCAA rules. However, he now plays exceptionally talented true freshmen so as not to be at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, some Penn State recruits, like recruits at many other schools, now graduate from high school a semester early so that they can enroll in college during the spring semester and participate in spring practice. Several team members from the recruiting class of 2005, including Justin King, Anthony Scirrotto and Derrick Williams, all received considerable playing time as true freshmen during the 2005-2006 season.
Paterno has been an outspoken opponent of gambling on college sports. He would like to see an end put to legalized college sports gambling in Nevada.
 Philanthropist and education
In addition to his legacy as a coach, Paterno is highly regarded for his contributions to academic life at Penn State. After the announcement of his hiring in 1966, Paterno set out to conduct what he called a "Grand Experiment" in melding athletics and academics in the collegiate environment, an idea that he had learned during his years at Brown. As a result, Penn State's players have consistently demonstrated above-average academic success compared to Division I-A schools nationwide. According to the NCAA's 2008 Graduation Rates Report, Penn State's four-year Graduation Success Rate of 78% easily exceeds the 67% Division I average, second to only Northwestern among Big Ten institutions.
Paterno is also renowned for his charitable contributions to academics at Penn State. He and his wife Sue have contributed over $4 million towards various departments and colleges, including support for the Penn State All-Sports Museum, which opened in 2002, and the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, which opened in 2003. After helping raise over $13.5 million in funds for the 1997 expansion of Pattee Library, the University named the expansion Paterno Library in their honor.
In 2007, former player Franco Harris and his company R Super Foods recently honored Paterno for his contributions to Penn State by featuring his story and picture on boxes of Super Donuts and Super Buns in Central PA. A portion of the sales will be donated to an endowment fund for the university library that bears his name.
 Political interests
Paterno is a political conservative and a personal friend of former President George H.W. Bush, endorsing the then-candidate in a speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention. Paterno was also a close personal friend of the late President Gerald R. Ford. In 2004, his son Scott Paterno, an attorney, won the Republican primary for Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district but lost in the November general election to Democratic incumbent Tim Holden.
Joe and Sue Paterno have five children: Diana, Jay, Mary Kay, David, and Scott. All of his children are Penn State graduates and he has sixteen grandchildren. One of his children, Jay Paterno, has been quarterbacks coach at Penn State since 1999.