Caption:  Steve Smear, John Kulka, Mike Reid. (above)

Bobby Campbell is just one of the Nittany Lions who made a special trip to share his tale about the Joe We Know. Nearly seventy men traveled to 5 different cities in the northeast to tell their story about days in “The Grand Experiment” and how it has shaped their lives. The reunions at the sites were magical.

“The Joe We Know” Crew took it to the streets to find out what men had done with the lessons learned during their time in “The Grand Experiment. Back roads, cheap food, long hours and repeated set up and tear down. How does it happen?

Lions’ Tales from 1960-1969

The decade of Motown & loafers

As Penn State football entered the 1960’s, Rip Engle was starting his 11th year as the Nittany Lion’s head football coach.  It soon became apparent Engle was assigning more and more responsibilities to his brash and confident young quarterback coach from Brooklyn … Joe Paterno.   An obvious succession occurred in 1966 when Joe became Penn State’s 14th head football coach. In his first 13 games, Joe was an unspectacular 6 and 7. Then his teams went 30 games without losing.  The turnaround really began with a win at Miami in 1967 as Joe went with a new defensive scheme and began to use young sophomore defenders like Mike Reid, Dennis Onkotz, Pete Johnson, Steve Smear, Jim Kates, and Neil Smith.  The offense was in capable hands with players like Bobby Campbell, Bill Lenkaitis, Charlie Pittman, John Kulka, Ted Kalick, Phil LaPorta and Don Abby.  In 1968 along came Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell and with them two 11-0 seasons as the Nittany Lions handled the regular season opponents and earned  back-to-back orange Bowl victories over Big 8 Champions Kansas and Missouri. The Penn State Nittany Lions had become the “Beast of the East” and were beginning to get national media attention. The Joe Paterno Grand Experiment was off to an auspicious beginning.

Video Gallery

Cast members who played from 1960-1969.

Lions’ Tales: Bob Capretto, 1968 from thejoeweknow on Vimeo.

Lions’ Tales: Lenny Moore, 1953-55 from thejoeweknow on Vimeo.

Lions’ Tales: Steve Smear 1967-69 & Phil LaPorta 1971-73 from thejoeweknow on Vimeo.

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