On autumn days, the sleepy towns of central Pennsylvania reverberate with the cheers of over 100,000 fans as they pack Beaver Stadium to watch the Nittany Lions play football. With one of the most passionate and loyal followings in college football, the Penn State Nittany Lions regularly pack their 107,000 seat stadium to capacity to watch the contests.
Although virtually synonymous with Joe Paterno, Penn State's football program was successful long before he arrived in Happy Valley. The program actually started in 1887, and from that year through 1891 had no coach. During this period, Penn State's record was 12 wins, 8 losses and 1 tie.
In 1892, George Hoskins took over the reins and led the squad to a record of 17-4-4 in his four seasons (1892-1895).
After Hoskins, Samuel Newton took over. He holds the distinction of being one of only two coaches in Penn State history to leave with a losing record. His record from 1896 to 1898 was 12-14-0.
Sam Boyle was the next coach, and he is unfortunately the other of the two coaches to leave Penn State with a losing record. In his one season (1899) the Lions went 4-6-1.
The felicitously named Pop Golden became the next Penn State coach. He restored the University's winning ways and in three years (1900-1902) he compiled a 16-12-1 record.
Dan Reed was coach for one season (1903), going 5-3-0 in the process.
Tom Fennell was coach from 1904-1908 and in those five years went 33-17-1.
Bill Hollenback coached the 1909 squad to a 5-0-2 season. In 1910, Jack Hollenback led the school to a 5-2-1 record. But by 1911, Bill was back as coach. From 1911 to 1914 his squads went 23-9-4.
Next was Dick Harlow, who in three seasons (1915-1917) went 20-8-0.
Hugo Bezdek was the next Penn State coach and the first of their legendary triumvirate of Bezdek, Engle and Paterno. In 12 seasons, Bezdek would lead his teams to a 65-30-11 record, including two straight undefeated seasons and a birth in the 1922 Rose Bowl. Penn State lost the game to USC by a score of 14-3.
Following Bezdek's departure, Bob Higgins became coach. In his 19 season (1930-1948), Higgins coached the Lions to a 91-57-11 record. The Lions also made an appearance in the 1947 Cotton Bowl, drawing a tie with Southern Methodist, better known by the initials SMU.
For the 1949 campaign, John Bedenk led a squad that finished 5-4-0.
Rip Engle took over as coach in 1950, a position he would retain until 1965. His 16 season saw the Lions go 104-48-4. During this time the Lions also went 3-1 in bowl games.
Following Engle was the man that would take Penn State to its greatest heights and truly put the University on the map as a football power: Joe Paterno. In only his third season Jo Pa coached the Lions to an undefeated season and a #2 ranking in the final polls. In his fourth season, the Lions went undefeated again and once more finished #2 in the polls. After a one year bowl game absence, Paterno would lead the Lions to thirteen straight from 1971 to 1983. This period included a win in the 1982 Sugar Bowl over then #1 Georgia. This brought Penn State its first consensus national title.
The Nittany Lions' football program has won the Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy for Eastern football supremacy 26 times as of 2006.
In recognition of the University's athletic accomplishments, Penn State has finished in the top 25 of the NACDA Director's Cup in each year of the award's existence. This is a list compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics that charts institutions' overall success in college sports.
Penn State is also well known for having student-athletes that excel in the classroom as well.
The design of the Penn State Nittany Lions Heather Grey Fleece consists of the University's logos and football helmets over a heather grey background.
The Penn State Nittany Lions Heather Grey Fleece is not suitable for children's sleepwear. This polyester pattern has been licensed by Pennsylvania State University and is for individual consumption only. Any other use of the Penn State Nittany Lions Heather Grey Fleece is prohibited and illegal.