Perhaps no coach is more identifiable with his team than JoePa. Entering his 46th season on the sidelines at University Park, the 84-year-old Paterno has an NCAA-record 401 victories and two national championships, and has given no word on when he may retire. Last season, his Nittany Lions went 7-6 and lost in the Outback Bowl to Florida.
Better with age
The struggling Florida Marlins turned to 80-year-old Jack McKeon to right the ship on June 20, 2011. Trader Jack is no stranger to the team, having led the Marlins to a World Series title in 2003. He also is not the only the senior citizen to share his wisdom in the playing arena. He re-retired at the end of the season. Here are some other famous coaches who spent their golden years prowling dugouts and sidelines.
Hubie Brown, Memphis Grizzlies
After the Memphis Grizzlies lost their first eight games of the 2002-03 season, they surprised everyone by hiring the 69-year-old Brown, who had been out of coaching for 15 years. Brown turned out to be just what the young Grizzlies needed: a wise, old head. He was named NBA Coach of the Year the next season after leading Memphis to 50 wins at the age of 70. Citing health problems, however, he retired for good a year later and returned to the broadcast booth.
George Halas, Chicago Bears
Papa Bear? How about Grandpapa Bear? One of the founding fathers of the NFL, Halas served as a player, coach and owner of the Chicago franchise and won six championships (1921, ’33, ’40, ’41, ’46, ’63) while coaching an unheard-of 36 years, retiring in 1967 at age 72. His first and last titles were 42 years apart. He brought Red Grange, the T-formation and the Monsters of the Midway to the NFL, as well as a host of other things. His 318 wins are second-most in league history.
Marv Levy, Buffalo Bills
Levy is perhaps most famous for failing to win the big one, but that doesn't mean he did not have an impact in the NFL. The architect of one of the most prolific offenses in league history, the Jim Kelly-led K-Gun, Levy is the only coach to lead his team to four consecutive Super Bowls. He retired in 1997 at the age of 72, tied with George Halas as the oldest coach in NFL history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
Jim Calhoun, Connecticut men's basketball
In April, Calhoun became the oldest coach to win the Division I men's basketball championship, as his Huskies defeated Butler in the title game in Houston. There was some speculation that the 69-year-old coach (he won the title at age 68) would retire after the victory, but he indeed will return for his 26th season this fall. He has coached his teams to three national championships and has 855 career victories, 605 at UConn.
Bobby Bowden, Florida State football
The man who brought the Seminoles to national prominance coached at Tallahassee beginning in 1976 and stayed there through the 2009 season, retiring at age 80. He is the second-winningest coach in FBS history, behind only Joe Paterno, with 377 victories (he also coached at Howard and West Virginia). His career is highlighted by a pair of national championships.
Connie Mack, Philadelphia Athletics
Nobody coached at older age in American professional sports history than Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia Athletics, the team he owned, until he was 87. He owns most manegerial records associated with longevity, including games, wins and losses. He managed his teams to five World Series championships.