American Football Wiki
Penn State Nittany Lions football
Penn State NCAA-Helmet-Penn State-750px
First season 1887
Athletic director Patrick Kraft
Head coach James Franklin
9th year, 78–36 (.684)
Home stadium Beaver Stadium
Stadium capacity 106,572
Stadium surface Kentucky Bluegrass
Location University Park, Pennsylvania
Conference Big Ten
Division East (since 2014)
All-time history
Penn State Nittany Lions Historical Teams
1887 1888 1889
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
All-time record 920–406–42 (.688)
Postseason bowl record 31–19–2 (.615)
Claimed national titles 2
Conference titles 5 (Big Ten since 1993)
Division titles 2 (2011, 2016)
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 42
Current uniform
Colors Navy Blue and White


Fight song Fight On, State
Mascot Nittany Lion
Marching band Penn State Blue Band
Rivals Michigan State Spartans
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Nebraska Cornhuskers
Ohio State Buckeyes
Pittsburgh Panthers
Website Penn State Football

The Penn State Nittany Lions football team represents the Pennsylvania State University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big Ten Conference. It is one of the most tradition-rich and storied college football programs in the United States.[1][2][3] On November 22, 2008, after a victory over Michigan State University, Penn State became the sixth FBS program to win 800 games.[4] The Nittany Lions play their home games at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania. They are currently coached by James Franklin.



"Paternoville" is the name attributed to the student tradition of camping out in front of Beaver Stadium prior to a home football game. The tradition was established during the 2005 football season, when students began setting up tents and "camping" in front of Beaver Stadium one week before the game with rival school Ohio State on October 8.[5] The students camped in front of the stadium in order to hold their positions in line for front-row seats. What began as a small group of fans gathering and camping in tents has now become a strong tradition which attracts thousands of students, and was colloquially dubbed "Paternoville" in honor of former head coach Joe Paterno. Football players, the Blue Band, and (before he passed away) Joe Paterno himself frequented Paternoville, pepping up the students as game day draws near. Paternoville has helped bring enthusiasm back to Penn State Football in recent years, and is governed by the student-run Paternoville Coordination Committee.[6]

The Blue Buses[]

Before home games, players dress in their game uniform at the Lasch Football Building, and are bused over to Beaver Stadium in four plain, blue university buses. First and second team offensive players ride in the first bus, first and second team defensive players ride in the second bus, and the rest of the team follows in the third and fourth buses. Only two seats on any of the four buses are reserved: Joe Paterno rode in the front right of the offensive bus, and his starting quarterback rides in the front left. Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno has said that if there is ever debate over who will be the starter for any game, look to who gets off the bus second. In the 2010 season Paterno became the first FBS (Division 1-A) football coach to reach 400 wins in a coaching career.


The team is widely noted (along with teams like Notre Dame and Alabama) for their simple game uniforms. They only wear white pants, and the jerseys are simple blue for home games, and white for away games.[7] The team is only allowed to wear simple black Nike shoes with white calf socks for game days, though blue tights are permitted underneath the white socks for cold weather games. The helmet is white with a blue stripe down the center, and a blue on white "Penn State" sticker covers up the forehead helmet logo. No team logos, conference logos, numbers, or other stickers are permitted on the helmet, though two Nike logos are on facemask visors that some players choose to wear. Penn State has started to wear bowl decals only starting with 1997 Fiesta Bowl. Before that, Penn State always declined the decals so they can play out of their simple game uniforms. The blue and white uniforms replaced pink and black ones in 1890.[8]

The uniforms became even simpler for the 2011 season, as the white cuffs and collars on the home jerseys and the corresponding blue cuffs and collars on the road jerseys were eliminated, leaving the jerseys solid blue and white, respectively. Penn State's 2012-2013 jerseys had names on the back of them. Bill O'Brien in 2012 chose to put names on the back of their jerseys for recognition. O'Brien felt that the players who stayed deserved recognition. While the Nittany Lions had always "played for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back," circumstances were extreme. Those players were still playing for Penn State, but Penn State owed them a debt.


Captains are chosen by the team, with the head coach's approval. Being named a captain is an honor almost always given to a senior, but there are some notable exceptions: Linebacker Sean Lee was named a captain in the beginning of Spring practice in 2008, the beginning of his 4th year with the team. However, he suffered a torn ACL during spring practice, redshirted in 2008, and returned as a captain again in 2009. The most recent example of a "true" junior being named was Paul Posluszny, who was named a captain in both 2005 and 2006, his junior and senior years, respectively. The last time a junior was named captain before Posluszny was in 1968, when Steve Smear and Mike Reid were named captains during their junior years.

Linebacker U[]

Penn State is often referred to as Linebacker U for its reputation of producing outstanding linebackers. Dennis Onkotz was a two time All American in 1968 and 1969, and played on two undefeated teams. Possibly the greatest linebacker in Penn State history, Jack Ham finished his career with 251 tackles, blocked two punts, and went on to play on two undefeated teams. Ham later went on to the NFL, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Greg Buttle was a terrifying linebacker during the 1973–1975 seasons, finishing with an astonishing 305 tackles in his junior and senior year. He was drafted by the New York Jets and is a part of the All Jet team. Shane Conlan was a two time All-American and defensive MVP of the 1987 National Championship Fiesta Bowl. He was drafted No. 1 by the Bills in 1987, named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to three straight Pro Bowls (1988–90). Lavar Arrington was an extremely physical linebacker who was all over the place. Arrington finished with 319 career tackles and 139 tackles for losses. He was later drafted 2nd overall by the Washington Redskins. Paul Posluszny became the face of Penn State football from 2003–2006, and is the definition of Linebacker U. Posluszny won the Dick Butkus Award in 2005 and the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2005 and 2006. He finished with 372 tackles, and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Dan Connor finished his career as the all-time leading tackler for Penn State with 419 and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers while Cameron Wake went on to capture MVP honors for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League, before moving on to the Miami Dolphins and leading the National Football League in sacks during the 2010 season. Tamba Hali was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft and led the AFC in sacks during the 2010 NFL season helping the Kansas City Chiefs reach the playoffs. Most recently Sean Lee, graduating Penn State in 2009, is now starting inside linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. NaVorro Bowman, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2010 draft, ranked 7th in the league in tackles in 2011, which is a difficult feat playing next to tackling machine Patrick Willis.[9] Furthermore, Navorro Bowman was named an AP first team All-Pro for his 2011 campaign. Edward William O'Neil (born September 8, 1952) is an American football coach and former professional linebacker, who played seven seasons in the National Football League (NFL). From 1970–1973, he played linebacker for coaching legend Joe Paterno at Penn State. A three-year letterman, he was team captain of the Nittany Lions' undefeated 1973 team and was named an All-American that same season.

Notable seasons[]

Perfect seasons[]

Penn State has had seven undefeated, untied seasons in its history since the program started in 1887:


National championships[]

Penn State has won two consensus national championships, both under Joe Paterno's tenure as coach.

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
1982 Joe Paterno AP, Coaches 11–1 Won Sugar
1986 Joe Paterno AP, Coaches 12–0 Won Fiesta
Total National Titles 2

Other national championships selections:

1911 • (National Championship Foundation)

1912 • (National Championship Foundation)

1969 • (Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments, Massey Ratings)

1981 • (Dunkel System, Loren Maxwell, Soren Sorenson, The Fleming System)

1994 • (Billingsley Report, DeVold, Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments, Massey Ratings, Matthews Grid Ratings, National Championship Foundation, New York Times, Sagarin Ratings)

File:Beaver Stadium list of seasons.jpg

The suite boxes on the east side of Beaver Stadium, with the highlighted years (undefeated and championship seasons) added in 2006

Conference championships[]

Penn State played as an independent from 1887 through 1890.

On September 26, 1891, the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Football Association (PIFA) was formed. The PIFA consisted of Bucknell, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Haverford, Penn State and Swarthmore. Penn State won the championship with a 4–1–0 PIFA record (Bucknell's record was 3–1–1). The PIFA dissolved prior to the 1892 season.

Penn State then played as an independent again until joining the Big Ten Conference in 1990 and beginning play in 1993, Penn State has won three Big Ten championships:


Coaching history[]

Coach Years Seasons Record Pct. Cnf.
Pct. Cnf.
Bowls Nat.
No coach 1887–1891 5 12–8–2 .591 4–1 .750 1
George Hoskins 1892–1895 4 17–4–4 .760
Samuel Newton 1896–1898 3 12–14–0 .462
Sam Boyle 1899 1 4–6–1 .409
Pop Golden 1900–1902 3 16–12–1 .569
Daniel A. Reed 1903 1 5–3–0 .625
Tom Fennell 1904–1908 5 33–17–1 .657
Bill Hollenback 1909, 1911–1914 5 28–9–4 .732
Jack Hollenback 1910 1 5–2–1 .688
Dick Harlow 1915–1917 3 20–8–0 .714
Hugo Bezdek 1918–1929 12 65–30–11 .665 1
Bob Higgins 1930–1948 19 91–57–11 .607 1
Joe Bedenk 1949 1 5–4–0 .556
Rip Engle 1950–1965 16 104–48–4 .680 4
Joe Paterno 1966–2011 45 409–136–3 .749 95–54 .638 3 37 2
Tom Bradley 2011 <1 1–3 .250 1–2 .333
Bill O'Brien 2012–2013 2 15-9 .625 10-6 .625
James Franklin 2014- Present 1 (As of October 15th 2014) 4-2 .500 (As of October 15th 2014) 1-2 .333








  • 1989
  • 1988
  • 1987
  • 1986
  • 1985
  • 1984
  • 1983
  • 1982
  • 1981
  • 1980

Notable Alumni[]


  1. Storied programs dominate Ladder 119's top rungs. ESPN (July 27, 2007). Retrieved on December 9, 2007.
  2. Musselman, Ron (October 27, 2007). Penn State visit from No. 1. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on December 9, 2007.
  3. Carey, Jack (October 3, 2005). Storied programs revive tradition. USA Today. Retrieved on December 9, 2007.
  4. "Clark passes for 341 yards, 4 TDs as Penn State slams Spartans", November 22, 2008. Retrieved on December 2, 2008. 
  5. History of Paternoville. Retrieved on Oct 10, 2011.
  6. Paternoville Coordination Committee. Retrieved on Oct 10, 2011.
  7. Fornelli. Penn State making uniform change. Retrieved on May 7, 2011.
  10. Penn State Coaching Records. College Football Data Warehouse (November 12, 2011). Retrieved on November 12, 2011.

External Links[]