Joseph Vincent Paterno
Joseph Vincent Paterno
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Team: Special

Joseph Vincent Paterno '50
Hometown:
Brooklyn, NY
Sport:
Special
Year Inducted:
1977

Joseph Vincent Paterno ’50, the man the late StanleyWoodward described as a quarterback “who can’t run,can’t pass – just thinks and wins,” is stillthinking and winning at Penn State as he establishes himself as oneof the great coaches of intercollegiate football history, alongwith such men as Pop Warner, Knute Rockne, and Bud Wilkinson. ButStanley Woodward missed the mark in his assessment ofPaterno’s playing ability. Joe could run – his69-yard punt return for a TD beat Holy Cross in Brown’s“8 for 9 in ‘49” season; his 64-yard pass toChuck Nelson helped beat Harvard the same year; and Joe Paterno wasone of the finest defensive backs Brown has ever produced. The5-10, 170-pounder from Brooklyn also had a good football brain inhis college days, prompting Coach Rip Engle to say that when thecocky Paterno played quarterback Brown had a coach on the field.Paterno was accepted at B.U. Law School but decided to go with RipEngle to Penn State “just for a couple of years.” WhenRip retired in 1966, Joe became head coach. Over the past 12 seasonPenn State has posted a 92-20-1 record, giving Paterno the bestwinning percentage of any active coach. There have been a steadysuccession of Bowl games, a No. 2 ranking in 1969, and Coach of theYear honors for Paterno in 1968. But Joe Paterno’s successgoes deeper than statistics. He has said things that have shockedhis profession, such as “football should be fun” and“athletic dorms should be abolished.” He stood up to aformer President of the U.S. in defending his players against whathe considered an insult. He frequently listens to Beethoven orPuccini when preparing game talks. His philosophy of football andof life is best summed up in the Churchillian idea that success isnever final, failure never fatal. Four years ago Joe Paterno becamea folk hero to many when he turned down a million dollar offer tocoach the New England Patriots, responding perhaps to the bumperstickers and postcards that flooded Pennsylvania saying“Don’t Go Pro, Joe.” Asked to give theCommencement Address at Penn State in 1973, Paterno told thestudents: “Money alone will not make you happy. Successwithout honor is an unseasoned dish. It will satisfy your hunger,but it won’t taste good.” If a test of a University isits product, then Brown University should be very proud of JoePaterno.