Paterno, in his 43rd season as Penn State head coach and 59th as a member of the coaching staff, has led his Nittany Lions to an 11-1 overall record, the programs third Big Ten Championship, and the No. 6 ranking in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Nittany Lions will clash with No. 5/4-ranked and Pac-10 Champion Southern California (11-1) in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif on Jan. 1, 2009.
In 2008, the Nittany Lions won their second Big Ten title in the past four years and came within two points of delivering their eighth unbeaten regular season under Paterno, losing at Iowa, 24-23, on Nov. 8 on a last second field goal. Penn State has won 42 of its last 52 games, dating to a win over Indiana in November 2004. The Nittany Lions 40-10 record since the start of the 2005 season is tied for No. 7 in the nation.
College football fans are invited to visit www.CoachoftheYear.com from Dec. 12-22 to cast their vote for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winner. A selection committee composed of College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches and the national media also will cast votes for the winners. Fan voting accounts for 20 percent of each coach's final score while the College Football Hall of Famers and national college football media account for 55 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
Paterno is the all-time leader in victories among major college coaches. A 1950 graduate of Brown University, he owns a career record of 383-126-3. His winning percentage of 75.0 ranks second among active major college coaches with 10 or more years as a head coach.
The longest serving head coach at one school in major college football history, Paterno has led the Nittany Lions to two national championships (1982 and 1986) and five undefeated seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994). Selected the AFCA National Coach of the Year an unprecedented five times, Paterno is the all-time leader in bowl wins with a record of 23-10-1 and ranks second in winning percentage among coaches with at least 12 bowl appearances with an impressive 69.1 mark. He is the only coach to win the Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowls. The 2009 Rose Bowl will be Penn States 23rd New Years bowl game under Paterno (16-6 record).
Inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in December 2007, he is one of only nine coaches in NCAA history (five in Division I-A) to win 300 games and reached the milestone faster than anyone (380 games). Paterno also is the only Div. I-A head coach with 300 victories at one school.
Since Paterno took over in 1966, there have been 834 head coaching changes among Division I-A programs, an average of more than six changes per I-A institution! (Includes 17 changes after 2008 season).
Under Paterno, Penn State has had 15 Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes, 31 first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans®, (41 overall) and 18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners. A school record five Nittany Lions (four on first team) were selected 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans® to lead the nation.
According to the 2008 NCAA Graduation Rates Report, Penn State has the third highest Graduation Success Rate (78 percent) among teams in the Dec. 7 Associated Press poll, trailing only Northwestern (92) and Texas Tech (79).
The 2008 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winner will be announced on ESPN during halftime of the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.
The other FBS coaches under consideration for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award are: Mack Brown (Texas), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Brady Hoke (Ball State), Urban Meyer (Florida), Chris Petersen (Boise State), Nick Saban (Alabama), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Jim Tressel (Ohio State) and Kyle Whittingham (Utah).