January 22nd, 2012 | Sports

Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno dies

Joe Paterno was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years.
Joe Paterno was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Joe Paterno, the longtime head football coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, died in State College, Penn., on Sunday after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 85.

In his 46 years at the helm of the Nittany Lions, Paterno won 409 football games, making him the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football history. But before all that, he could have chosen New Haven instead — according to an obituary published in the New York Times on Sunday, he was offered a job as head coach of Yale’s football team in the 1960s.

While Paterno was an assistant coach at Penn State, he was offered the opportunity to replace Yale head coach John Pont after the 1964 season. He turned down the offer, and in 1966 became Penn State’s head football coach. Meanwhile, Carm Cozza took the reins of the Old Blue, winning a Yale-record 179 games before retiring 32 seasons later in 1996.

After an illustrious career, Paterno was fired Nov. 9 for failing to report allegations that Penn State assistant coach Joe Sandusky had sexually abused young boys during his tenure with the Nittany Lions.