Reporting Bob Pompeani
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -While Pitt and Penn State have a storied rivalry, it did not prevent Joe Paterno and former Panthers coach Johnny Majors from being close off the field.
Majors has fond memories of his time spent with Joe Paterno as both an opposing coach and a social friend.
One of his most interesting stories is when they really first got to know each other on a sponsors’ trip to St. Thomas.
Majors and his wife went to the Caribbean on a trip sponsored by Nike
As it turns out, Majors had to share a condominium with Joe and Sue Paterno.
During those three days, a bond was formed and it all started because the airlines lost Paterno’s luggage for the entire trip.
Ironically, the Paterno and Majors wore the same size clothes.
“I’m a notorious over-packer and he’s told this story himself publicly, so I’m not speaking for him, he’s the one that told the story. He said he used my clothes. I had two or three sport coats, which you don’t need in a caravan, and two or three extra golf shirts and an extra pair of pants or two and an extra pair of shoes or two. He said it’s the best dressed he’s ever been for three days,” Majors said.
They shared plenty of laughs, but never on the field.
Paterno’s career record against Pitt is 23-7-1. One of his biggest wins was in 1981 when Pitt was 10-0 and thinking of a second national title.
Pitt led 14-0, when Penn State scored 48 unanswered to deny Pitt that chance.
For Majors, he got his biggest win against Paterno in 1976. Their 24-7 win was en route to their first national title in 39 years.
“We’ve had a lot of laughs together. We butted heads in football with our teams. We didn’t butt many heads, but we competed very strongly and we did at Pitt revive the rivalry as one of the greatest rivalries I’ve ever been involved with. It’s too bad it hasn’t been played for several years regularly,” Majors said.
Majors said it is highly unlikely that we will ever see a Joe Paterno again.
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