Paterno was fired Nov. 9, 2011 in the wake of the child-sex scandal that rocked Happy Valley. He ended his career with 409 victories and two national championships in 46 seasons. He died 74 days later.
Joe Paterno: 1926-2012
Joe Paterno, longtime Penn State football coach and the winningest coach in major college football history, died Jan. 22, 2012 at the age of 85 after battling lung cancer. Here is a look back at Paterno through the years at Penn State.
Paterno was named head coach at Penn State prior to the start of the 1966 season. Here, in February of that year, he sits for a picture with wife Suzanne, one-year-old daughter Mary Kathryn (on his lap) and two-year-old daughter Diana Lynne at their home in University Park, Pa. That fall, he would begin a career that would span six different decades and result in an FBS record 409 victories.
One of two dozen
Paterno posed on Dec. 6, 1973, with the Lambert Meadowlands Trophy in New York, along with Penn State's Robert J. Scannell (left), dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and Edward M. Czekaj, director of athletics. The trophy, awarded annually to the top team in the Northeast, has been won by a Paterno-led Penn State team 24 times.
Master of his trade
Paterno was famed for his play-calling, particularly in the first half of his career.
First national championship
Paterno began his Penn State head coaching career in 1966, but his crowning achievement came on Jan. 1, 1983, as the Nittany Lions defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl for the coach's first national championship. This ride atop his players' shoulders at the Superdome in New Orleans would be followed by a second championship four seasons later.
Second national championship
This time in the Fiesta Bowl, Paterno was again carried off by his players after the Jan. 2, 1987, victory over Miami. The Nittany Lions won a close one, 14-10, giving Paterno the final Associated Press national championship of his career.
Leading the charge
Even in his 60s and beyond, Paterno was on the field, sprinting to and from the locker room every game. Here, in 1996 (at age 69), Paterno leads the Nittany Lions off the field at the close of the first half of what would be a 41-0 victory over Temple at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.
Picture of perfection
Paterno orchestrated five undefeated seasons as Penn State coach, winning two national championships and becoming the only coach to win each of the four traditional New Year's Day bowl games — Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange. In all, Paterno has a 24-12-1 record in the postseason, the victory total an all-time record.
Passing a legend
On Oct. 27, 2001, Paterno had reason to celebrate beyond the Nittany Lions' 29-27 victory over Ohio State, as he picked up his 324th career victory, moving him ahead of famed Alabama coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant. The game marked the biggest PSU comeback at Beaver Stadium in Paterno's tenure, and the victory made Paterno the winningest coach in major college history.
Last — and longest — BCS success
On Jan. 3, 2006, Paterno's Nittany Lions needed 3 OTs to knock off Florida State and win the Orange Bowl in Miami. It would be the longest bowl game in Paterno's career, and would be the last time his team won a BCS bowl game. It also gave him some bragging rights against Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden, who for years was neck-and-neck with Paterno on the career victories list.
Paterno made news on Nov. 4, 2006, when, a month shy of 80, he was injured in a sideline collision at Wisconsin. Badgers linebacker DeAndre Levy, while knocking Penn State tight end Andrew Quarless out of bounds, fell into Paterno's left knee, causing a fractured bone and knee ligament damage. He had to coach the rest of the season from the press box, including the 2007 Outback Bowl.
Winning in pain
And after coaching that Outback Bowl on New Year's Day 2007 in Tampa, Fla., Paterno posed with the winner's trophy after the Nittany Lions defeated Tennessee 20-10.
Still in charge
Even at the age of 82, as he was here in 2009, Paterno was still patrolling the field and making clear who was leading the Nittany Lions.
On top of the football mountain
Paterno, seen here on Jan. 2, 1995, after defeating Oregon in the Rose Bowl, became the first coach in FBS history to reach 400 career victories when the Nittany Lions defeated Northwestern on Nov. 6, 2010. At the time he announced his plan to retire, Paterno stood at 409 career victories, with 136 losses and three ties.