Happy In Happy Valley
Paterno remained an assistant coach at Penn State for the next sixteen years. He had started a family with wife Suzanne (they would have five children, all of whom attended Penn State) and felt at home in Happy Valley. When head coach Rip Engle retired in 1966, Paterno was asked to be the new head coach. He had a rocky start, going 5-5 in his first year, but the following season he turned it around and compiled an 8-2-1 record, making an appearance in the Gator Bowl (the first in a long, long line of bowl appearances).
As the seventies progressed, Paterno made the Nittany Lions a dominant force in college football, following back-to-back undefeated seasons (the streak ended at 31 games). Yet in spite of his consistent excellence on the field, Paterno's teams never got the recognition he felt they deserved. For instance, after they went 12-0 in 1973, the team went on to beat Louisiana State University in the Orange Bowl. When the final polls came out, the Nittany Lions were ranked 5th in the nation. Pater-no—to put it mildly—was furious with the results, and he paid to have championship rings made for every player on his team.
When Penn State finally won a national championship and earned number one status in 1982, Paterno refused bask in the glory of his hard-won national title. According to Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly, Paterno "marched into a meeting of [Penn State] University's board of trustees and, in effect, scolded them. He urged the board to raise entrance requirements and to spend more money on the library.… It may go down as the only time in history that a coach yearned for a school its football team could be proud of."