Moving On Up
In the late eighties Penn State—based in large part on Paterno's exceptional tenure with the school and the reputation he had brought the football program—was invited to play in the Big Ten, college football's powerhouse. The school accepted, entering the Big Ten officially in the early nineties, and giving Paterno the opportunity he'd been longing for: to win the Rose Bowl.
After only two seasons in the Big Ten, Paterno led the Nittany Lions to an appearance in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, following an undefeated season. Penn State was victorious, defeating Oregon 38-20. Paterno ended up taking his team through the nineties with an incredible record of 97-26 and attaining 300 wins for his career. "There's no secret to how we do things here," he told Newsday. "The kids have to understand they're part of a certain tradition here, and one that doesn't just involve football. I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that these kids want you to give them structure. They want it individually and they want it as a team. So if they go to school at Penn State and play football for me, they know there's going to be a certain structure. I know what's succeeded here, and I'm reluctant to give it up."