Big Ten Notebook: 80-year-old Paterno ready for another one
Big Ten media days wouldn’t be complete without 80-year-old Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno turning out a few solid punchlines.
This is his 42nd year leading the Nittany Lions, but he’s only been coaching in the Big Ten since 1990. Paterno now is the longest tenured conference coach.
“It’s happened so fast. The older you get, the years go by quicker,” Paterno said.
Paterno had to coach some games last season from the press box after a sideline collision left him with a leg injury. The perspective from above the field has him thinking about coaching from the press box more often.
“The kind of coaching staff we have now, I’m not so sure that’s not the better way to do it,” Paterno said. “I try not to interfere with guys upstairs. They know what they’re doing, but every now and then I drop them a note.
“I enjoy being upstairs. I really do. I sat down and had a nice time. I had a cup of coffee. I felt like a newspaper guy sitting on my rear-end and watching TV.”
Paterno said he doesn’t know how much longer he will coach. The topic only bothers him when “it ends up with where I should go.”
“I’ve got 15 grandkids, and a 16th is coming in September,” JoePa said. “The oldest is 12 years old. He said, ‘Hey granddad, how are we going to be?’ How do I know how we’re going to be.
Now my grandkids want to know how we’re going to be, damn it. They’re probably smarter than some of the 40-year-olds that e-mail me.”
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the conference goes through extensive background checks of its officials to try to curb any incidents of gambling similar to the NBA scandal and an
FBI investigation into point shaving on the University of Toledo’s football team.
“If there is one issue that could bring interscholastic athletics to its knees, it’s gambling, because it deals with the integrity of the game,” Delany said.
Other issues touched on:
— The Big Ten is not actively looking to expand to 12 teams, but it is something the conference looks at on a regular basis.
— The conference will randomly test 10 percent of its 8,500 student-athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. Each school and the NCAA does its own testing, giving the Big Ten three levels of testing.
— Conference coaches unanimously favored a bye week but were undecided on starting earlier or ending later. Ohio State’s Jim Tressel said he prefers to have a bye week but also finish the season before Thanksgiving.
— Delany is against the “plus-one” model for determining a national champion. “We don’t see how the plus-one model works without seeding, and we don’t see how seeding would work and be able to maintain the traditional (Pac-10 vs. Big Ten) Rose Bowl,” Delany said. He stopped short of threatening to secede from the BCS.
After Penn State home games, Paterno has told his players, the ones in his doghouse for off-field disciplinary issues, they will clean Beaver Stadium, and the money made from their services will be donated to charity. How did that go over? “I didn’t ask for their reaction. I told them,” Paterno said. “We’re not a democracy. I told them, ‘I’m p-o’ed at you.’ I probably didn’t use the word p-o’ed. I probably used a couple of other words.”
Buckeye LB James Laurinaitis was not one of the three players Tressel brought to media days. Instead, Kirk Barton, a fifth-year senior, and fourth-year juniors Marcus Freeman and Vernon Gholston made the trip. “Don’t read anything more into it than seniority,” Tressel said. “He’s not in the doghouse or anything.”
Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr didn’t seem to appreciate a question about his lack of success against Ohio State the last three years and four straight bowl losses. In a short answer, Carr said, “I think we’ll be doing our best to win every game we play. That’s always our goal.”
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail: email@example.com