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.
Cast members who played from 1960-1969.