Paterra Retires after 46 Years in the Game of Football

Las Cruces, N.M. – Associate Head Coach Herb Paterra has hung up his whistle after a 46 year career in the game of football both as a player and a coach. Paterra had 26 years of coaching experience, 10 years of playing experience at the college and professional level and countless stories, all of which, have left a lasting impression on all his former teammates, players and fellow coaches.

“My first thoughts go to the kids,” Paterra said. “I have a great relationship with my players and they were always the focal point for me coaching at the collegiate level. This is a player’s game and it was always about the players for me. My second thought is the camaraderie with my fellow coaches. The working relationships that I had with all the coaches are very special to me. I think coach Mumme epitomizes what a head coach should be and he works extremely hard at what he does.”

“Herb is going to greatly missed, not only as coach to our athletes, but as colleague,” head coach Hal Mumme said. “Herb has a great knowledge of the game and a passion for teaching our athletes the skills and life lessons to be great football players and even better young men.”

As Paterra reflected on his career he remembered something his father used to tell him.

“My father used to tell me it’s not how you start by how you finish and over my 46 career I played and I coached and to end my career at a great institution like New Mexico State I think I finished up pretty good.”

After 46 years Paterra said he is looking forward to being fan and spending more time with his wife of 45 years.

Paterra also mentioned that during the past 46 years a constant in his life has been his wife Lou Ann. Paterra and his wife has two children Jeff and Craig, as well as three grandchildren. Paterra says his greatest support has been his wife Lou Ann.

“Lou Ann has been there for me and our two kids everyday. She picked me up when I was down and I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful marriage and not only have wonderful wife, but someone there that stuck by me through this journey.”

During his time at NMSU, Paterra not only coached football players, but helped each young man he came in contact with reach their life-long goals.

“I thought his knowledge of the game was really impressive and really learned a lot from coach Paterra about the game of football and life in general,” former linebacker Nathan Nuttall said. “He is a very respectful man and always kept me in focus of life and not just football.”

“As a coach Paterra is extremely intelligent and really helped me develop into a much better player from my junior to senior seasons,” former linebacker Tim McManigal said. “He also helped me increase my overall knowledge of the game. As a person he was like a father figure to me. He is a tremendous person and I appreciate all he has done for me.”

In two seasons with the Aggies, Paterra helped the Aggie linebacker corps wreaked havoc on opposing offenses. In 2006 Paterra led linebacker Tim McManigal to a national rank of 52nd and fourth in the WAC in tackles per game. In 2005 he guided the nation’s leading tackler Jimmy Cottrell. Cottrell finished the season with 179 total tackles, 14.9 tackles per game. Overall, the Aggies linebacker corps accounted for 41 percent of the Aggies’ tackles in 2005.

Paterra coached linebackers as well at Southeastern Louisiana for two seasons and has a wealth of experience, which includes coaching stops in the NFL, CFL and the World Football League. Before going to Southeastern, Paterra was the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt for Widenhofer.

Paterra also served as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (1989-95), Buffalo Bills (1986) and Los Angeles Rams (1980-82) and was linebackers coach at Tampa Bay (1987-88) and Green Bay (1984-85). As defensive coordinator at Detroit, Paterra guided the Lion's defense to wild card playoff spots in 1994 and 1995. Paterra also coached in the CFL, serving as defensive coordinator for both the Hamilton Tiger Cats (1977-79) and the Edmonton Eskimos (1983).

Coach Paterra served as head coach at North Mecklenburgh High School (1976-777) in Huntersville, N.C., served as an assistant for the Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League (1975-76) and linebacker's coach at Wyoming (1973-75) and Michigan State (1972-73). He was also a graduate assistant at Michigan State (1970-72).

As a player, Paterra was a standout linebacker and guard for Michigan State University. Professionally, Paterra played three seasons (1962-65) in the NFL as a linebacker on the Buffalo Bills' 1964 AFL Championship team and was a member of the Hamilton Tiger Cats' Gray Cup title teams in both 1965 and 1967.