Paterno makes light of latest retirement rumors
TAMPA, Fla. — A Google search for “Joe Paterno rumors” returns 393,000 results. To the Penn State coach, that simply means “you have (393,000) people who all have the right answers.”
The backdrop of rumors and retirement Tuesday provided a forum for banter between Paterno and Florida coach Urban Meyer. And, yes, it appears only one of those coaches is planning to step down after Saturday’s Outback Bowl matches the Nittany Lions and Gators.
Even if Meyer, the 46-year-old who said he will coach his final game New Year’s Day, may be itching for a spot on the 84-year-old Paterno’s staff.
“I’ve put in my application for graduate assistant at Penn State,” he joked. “I can set up the cones really well, make a good pot of coffee.”
Paterno, spry as he has been all season, shot down rumors of a hospital stay last week, calling the reports “ridiculous.”
“I’m different than Urban,” he said. “I got people calling up saying, ‘When the hell are you getting out?’
“I’ve got a whole different slant on it. People think I’m going to quit this year or next year. I haven’t even thought of it. I, honest to goodness, have not thought of it. The situation around me is very stable. The athletic director (Tim Curley) is a kid I recruited as a walk-on. The coaches have been with me; I haven’t had a lot of guys leave. Our president (Graham Spanier) has been with us now for 14 or 15 years. We have a lot of fun together.”
The coaches, winners of two national titles apiece, voiced their concerns about the state of college football.
“I think Fielding Yost (a coach at several schools from 1897 to 1926) had one of the greatest quotes of all time when he talked about the game of football in 1903,” Meyer said. “It was, ‘Football is not a fad.’ It’s turning into a fad.”
Added Paterno: “If we’re not careful, we’re only in it for entertainment for television.”
The coaches praised each other throughout the half-hour session, with Meyer saying Paterno is atop the list of people he tried to pattern himself after at an early age. Meyer’s innovative spread offense has created some ribbing within the Paterno family.
“My son Jay” — Penn State’s quarterbacks coach — “worships the guy,” Paterno said. “I keep telling him, ‘Your old man’s a head coach, too, you know.’ ”
Meyer said he is considering working for ESPN … if that graduate assistant job doesn’t pan out. Paterno offered another alternative.
“I got an apartment in Brooklyn I can rent you,” he said.
Notes: Paterno said third-string quarterback Kevin Newsome is not with the team, but they have yet to talk about a transfer. … Paterno said he offered to help defensive coordinator Tom Bradley get the job as Temple’s head coach, but Bradley declined. “It’s easier for me if he stays, but I don’t want to get to the point where I’m interfering with somebody who might want to get on with running his own program,” Paterno said. Temple hired Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio instead.