In last year’s meeting with Northwestern — the most memorable game of the Nittany Lions’ subpar 2010 season — Penn State mounted a 21-point comeback to win and give coach Joe Paterno his 400th career win.
On Saturday night at Ryan Field, a Penn State win over Northwestern would give Paterno another milestone. A victory would give Paterno, in his 46th season as head coach, his 408th win, which would tie the late Eddie Robinson of Grambling State (Division I-AA). John Gagliardi of Division III St. John’s University (Collegeville, Minn.) has 480 wins and counting and is the only coach with more wins than Robinson.
Paterno was asked on Tuesday if he had any kind of relationship with Robinson, who passed away in 2007.
“I knew Eddie. I wasn't intimate in the sense that we spent time together. He and I appeared before a Congressional delegation when they were in the process of trying to figure out what to do with [the] television [college football package],” Paterno said.
“I got to know Eddie a little bit. Then we talked a couple times. He was a delightful person. He obviously did a fantastic job at Grambling. When you think about when he started, he was 24 years old when he was a head coach. He was really a great guy. When there was no place for the black athlete, what he and Jake Gaither did with Grambling and Florida A&M was something special. I think Eddie was a great guy.”
Penn State left tackle and senior co-captain Quinn Barham said though he doesn’t really follow records, he has read up a little on Robinson.
“That [record] only gives us more to play for,” Barham said. “You know last year we were looking for that 400th win and this year if he could tie Coach Robinson, that’d be good too. But that’s not really our focus. Either way, a win would be good for all of us.”
Said defensive tackle and senior co-captain Devon Still: "[Paterno] just really wants the team to go out there and play the best that we can and worry more about the team rather than setting any records. So its not been our main focus, but of course I know its in the back of his mind. We just want to go out there and play the best game we can.”