October 20, 1999

Susquehanna still disputes Stagg's official record

More news about: Susquehanna

Legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is on the brink of passing Amos Alonzo Stagg, Sr., for fifth on the NCAA's list of career coaching victories in all divisions. A victory by Paterno's Nittany Lions at Purdue on Saturday would give him a record of 315-80-3 -- one more win than Stagg's 314-199-35 mark for 57 years.

But hold the phone. Stagg's official NCAA record doesn't include the 21-19-3 mark he posted as co-coach of Susquehanna -- little over an hour from Paterno's Penn State campus.

Stagg, Sr., co-coached at Susquehanna with his son, Amos, Jr., for six seasons between 1947 and 1952. While Susquehanna listed the elder Stagg as an "advisory coach" to his son in official NCAA records at the time -- it later credited him as co-coach based on evidence it has about those seasons. That evidence includes a plea from his son to give his father credit for those wins, player testimonials suggesting that the elder Stagg was at least a co-coach, and media and opponent sports information accounts from games of that era making reference to the venerable "Grand Old Man of Football" as head coach of the Crusaders.

Susquehanna officials appealed twice to the NCAA statistics bureau (1981, 1994) to have Stagg's record include his wins at Susquehanna, but were rejected both times -- in spite of evidence to the contrary -- because the university's official documentation at the time listed the younger Stagg as head coach and his dad as advisory coach. But, as Stagg, Jr. told Time in 1965, "Formally, he was my assistant. Practically, he was in charge. To disagree with my father was like breaking with God."

Paterno will pass Stagg in Division I-A wins with one more victory. But as for the overall list, Susquehanna's record for the "Grand Old Man of Football" will still read as 335-218-38 for 63 seasons of coaching, even if the NCAA's doesn't.

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