When Joe Paterno runs out of the Beaver Stadium tunnel on Saturday afternoon to kick off another Penn State seasonâ€š heâ€™ll officially equal a record for coaching longevity established 74 years ago.
Predictablyâ€š Paterno said he knew nothing about the impending milestone until asked about it during Tuesdayâ€™s teleconference.
When his Nittany Lions open the 2006 campaign against visiting Akronâ€š the 79-year-old coaching wonder will begin his 41st season stalking the sidelines for Penn Stateâ€š joining another football legend â€“ Amos Alonzo Stagg â€“ as the only major college coach to serve so long at one institution.
Stagg spent 41 seasons at the University of Chicago from 1892-1932.
That is simply an amazing run, and puts Paterno in the company of a simply amazing coach. Let’s take a look at Stagg’s accomplishments:
He is credited with numerous innovationsâ€š including the huddleâ€š the lateral passâ€š the man in motion and using a tackling dummy in practice.
â€œIâ€™m in good companyâ€šâ€ Paterno said.
â€œWhen I was a younger coachâ€š (Illinois coach Robert) Zuppke had a book out and Stagg had a book out. They had a great impact on the game and I read those booksâ€š but I never met (Stagg). I met his son when he coached at Susquehannaâ€š but I never met the dad.â€
First off, that is an amazing list of accomplishments for Stagg. However, staying with any program for that long is amazing – and I am certain that when Paterno was starting, reading the book written by Stagg to learn about coaching, there is no way he thought he was approaching that record. Paterno will certainly go down in history as one of the best coaches in college history, and definately one of the best of this era (Bobby Bowden being the other standout). It is impossible to imagine Penn State without him, considering that Paterno had been coaching almost 20 years when I was born. I have known no other Penn State coach, and have no idea who will come next.
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