Joe Paterno Is Stripped of 111 Wins as Bowden Climbs to No. 1

Bobby Bowden became the coach with the most victories at college football’s highest level when former Pennsylvania State University coach Joe Paterno was stripped of 111 wins.

“There’s no rejoicing in the Bowden household right now,” Bowden said in an interview with ESPN.

The former Florida State University coach gained the distinction with 377 wins after college sports’ governing body penalized Penn State and Paterno for their roles in a child sex-abuse scandal, eliminating 112 Nittany Lion victories from 1998 through 2011.

That means the last victory on Paterno’s record, in 1997, was directed by the quarterback-turned assistant who was part of his downfall -- Mike McQueary.

Paterno, who was identified as failing to take action after learning long-time defensive assistant Jerry Sandusky had been accused of sexual abuse, lost 111 of those victories. He was fired Nov. 9, five days after Sandusky’s indictment, and Penn State won one game under interim replacement Tom Bradley.

The sanction drops Paterno’s victory total to 298 in 46 seasons and makes Bowden No. 1 in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 377 victories in 44 seasons. Grambling’s Eddie Robinson is the Division I leader with 408 wins in 57 seasons, ending in 1997. Grambling’s division is one step below Penn State’s and Florida State’s.

No Celebration

“That doesn’t mean a doggone thing. The circumstances did it,” said Bowden, who was playing a round of golf yesterday when he learned he was No. 1 in wins because of the sanctions against Penn State. “The main issue is what happened up there with Sandusky. Until that is solved and that is behind everybody, I won’t be able to celebrate.”

The reduction of wins and other penalties announced yesterday by National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert came after Louis Freeh, a one-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, released a 267-page report July 12 saying Paterno, who died in January at 85, former university President Graham Spanier, 64, and other Penn State officials failed in their duties to protect children from abuse by Sandusky, an assistant coach for 31 years.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted last month on 45 criminal counts in the abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period.

Paterno was prevented by the university from telling his side of the story when the allegations emerged. He died before an interview with Freeh could be arranged.

Shower Assault

McQueary, then a graduate assistant, told Paterno in 2001 that he had seen Sandusky assaulting a young boy in a shower of the Penn State football building. Though Paterno informed his immediate superiors about what McQueary told him, he never contacted police.

The Freeh report, which was commissioned by Penn State, said Paterno knew about allegations of child-sex abuse by Sandusky in 1998 -- leading the NCAA to use that year as the starting point for nullifying victories.

The previous season, McQueary was quarterback as the Nittany Lions beat the University of Wisconsin 35-10 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 22. Paterno’s win record officially stops there following yesterday’s NCAA action.

Penn State’s program under Paterno included five undefeated seasons and Associated Press national championships in 1982 and 1986. He set a record for longevity, surpassing Amos Alonzo Stagg, who spent 41 years at the University of Chicago.

Paterno’s tenure on the staff spanned 12 U.S. presidents and more than 690 games, more than half of all those played by Penn State since its football program started in 1887.

Paterno set a record for major college wins in 2001, breaking longtime Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s record of 323, and held the mark until Bowden passed him in 2003. The two coaches were neck-and-neck until Bowden retired after the 2009 season with 377 wins over 34 years.

All-Time Football Bowl Subdivision Wins
Coach               Years Wins
Bobby Bowden        44    377
Bear Bryant         38    323
Pop Warner          44    319
Amos Alonzo Stagg   57    314
Joe Paterno         46    298

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