Legendary Penn State Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2011 football season, which has three games remaining.
Hired in 1966, Paterno has compiled a 409-136-3 record at Penn State, won a pair of national championships (1982, 1986) and is the all-time FBS leader in wins, bowl game wins (24) and is a five-time AFCA National Coach of the Year. Earlier this year, Paterno received the 2011 NCAA President's Gerald R. Ford Award, which is presented annually to the "individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics on a continuous basis over the course of their career".
Since Paterno took over in Happy Valley, there have been 888 head coaching changes at FBS/Division I schools. As a result, only a dozen or so coaches have been in their current positions for ten or more seasons.
Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer will become the longest-tenured head coach in college football. The 65-year-old Beamer originally arrived in Blacksburg as a player in 1966, Paterno's first season at Penn State, and returned to Virginia Tech in 1987, a year after Paterno's second national championship. Over the last 25-plus seasons, the Hokies have a 206-96-2 record with Beamer, who is two wins away from No. 250, which would vault him past Lou Holtz for eighth on the all-time FBS coaching wins list. (Beamer coached previously at Murray State)
After Beamer, Troy Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney (1991-present) will have the second-longest tenure, though the school was a 1-AA program until 2001. Fresno St. Bulldogs head coach Pat Hill has been in his current post since 1997, while Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown arrived in Austin in 1998. Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz and Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops were both hired in 1999.
Gary Patterson took over the TCU Horned Frogs program in 2000. The following year, Jim Grobe (Wake Forest Demon Deacons), Gary Pinkel (Missouri Tigers), Greg Schiano (Rutgers Scarlet Knights), Howard Schnellenberger (Florida Atlantic Owls, which was a 1-AA school until 2006), and Mark Richt (Georgia Bulldogs) arrived in their current positions, while California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford started in 2002.