Joe Paterno's Tenure at Penn State

Here is a statistical look at JoePa's long tenure at Penn State University. Champion or tarnished?


Joe Paterno has been fired three games before the end of his 46th year as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Coach Paterno had recently announced that he would retire at the end of the 2011 season due to the circumstances surrounding Paterno's action or lack thereof regarding information he was given concerning the lewd and atrocious conduct of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The Penn State Board of Trustees decided not to give Coach Paterno the chance to retire on his own terms Now that Paterno's legendary career is over, let's look at JoePa By The Numbers:

Years WP% Conf. WP% 10-Win Seasons Losing Seasons National Champs. Bowl Games
46 74.64% 64.19% 21 6 2 38

Let's look at these numbers in a little more detail by decade:

Years WP% Conf. WP% 10-Win Years Losing Years Bowl Apps. Top 25 (EOS) Top 10 (EOS) Conf. Titles Nat. Champs.
66-69 81.40% N/A 2 0 3 3 3 N/A 0
70-79 81.36% N/A 6 0 9 9 6 N/A 0
80-89 76.74% N/A 5 1 8 6 5 N/A 2
90-00 75.56% 70.31% 5 1 10 10 4 1 0
01-11 65.41% 58.82% 3 3 6 5 3 2 0
* (EOS) = End of Season Ranking

A little more data on the 2001-Present data:

Years WP% Against Top 25 (TOG) WP% Against Top 5 (TOG) WP% Against Over .500 Teams Bowl WP% # of Top 25 Finishes
2001-2011 32.50% 0.00% 43.06% 50.00% 5
* (TOG) = Time of Game Ranking

So, what do the numbers tell us? 

They tell us that Paterno is one of the most successful college football coaches in history. They tell us that he won 409 of the 548 games he was the head coach. They tell us that he won 10 or more games in 46.67% of the full seasons he was the head coach. They tell us that he won two national titles, three Big Ten titles, and finished in the AP Top 10 21 different times. The numbers also unfortunately tell us that Joe Paterno's ability to compete for national championships and beat the elite programs in college football was deteriorating along with his eyesight.

Here at Coaches By The Numbers, we like to ignore the soft factors that far too often dominate conversations surrounding college football coaches. In this instance unfortunately, the soft factor of Paterno's inaction in the face of an unspeakable evil cannot be ignored and will forever tarnish his legacy By The Numbers.

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