Joe Paterno Season Wrap-up Press Conference

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Coach Paterno


Coach Paterno

Jan. 4, 2011

Tampa, Fla.; -

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In general terms, how would you describe this season both personally and professionally?
"I don't know what you mean by the personal or the professional. As the coach of the Penn State football team, I thought we had our moments where I was disappointed we didn't play a little better, but other times, the kids came back, snapped back, they stayed with it. I thought it was in a lot of ways a very rewarding season. It's a young club and a couple of kids had to play that weren't quite ready to play but, they hung in there for us, practiced hard when sometimes we had to do things twice as hard in practice as we've done because of the fact that we've played some teams... nowadays, there's so much diverse offense and the same way on defense and there's so much blitzing and things. And we had a quarterback without any experience and the offensive line got in there, so I thought overall it was a very rewarding year. Now, I'd like to have three more wins, but that's the way it goes."

What happened to Chaz (Powell) down here? He didn't play yesterday. Tom [Bradley] said he had some type of problem.
"He had a problem. I'd like just to leave it at that. He had a problem. Enough said."

Are you happy with how your quarterbacks handled the whole season?
"Yeah, I think so. Obviously, you're not jumping for joy when you have the kind of interceptions we've had in a couple of tough games. The interception in the flat, running it back against us (by Florida) was exactly what Ohio State had done to get back in the game against us. And the kicking game bothered me because I was scared to death of it and I've spent more time on the kicking game this year than I've ever spent on any football game and then they still blocked one on us. That to me... there again, it was a little bit like the Iowa game (in 2009). We were in pretty good control of the game, we were almost at midfield a year ago and they get a punt block for a touchdown. But, I think the quarterback (Matt McGloin), under the situation and where we were, I thought he did a good job. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have tried to get (Rob) Bolden in there a little bit because I think Bolden is a good prospect and he's probably a little discouraged, but I think other than that, I wouldn't second guess us too much."

He probably is discouraged. What is your philosophy? Do you have any kind of overarching philosophy? You want to play the quarterback you believe in, but...
"Everybody is different. Okay? I haven't got the slightest idea until I sit down and everybody gets a chance to just spit out the fact that we got licked, and then we'll sit down and we'll just talk a little bit."

You keep talking about how excited you are to come back next year, but your schedule next year is pretty demanding.
"Well, we should be further along, anyway. We played a lot of kids yesterday that hadn't played really, and I think they hung in there. They hung in there and we looked like we were going to dominate the game and they blocked a kick, and then we got behind and we were making the drive... I thought overall, yesterday was a good experience. The practice sessions were good experiences that I think will help us for next year. How much? It depends on whether the leadership comes in the winter program and spring practice. I won't know until then whether we've made some progress."

You had some questions about leadership going into the season. How do you think you stand now moving forward?
"I think I hinted at that when I answered the first question... I thought that we started out the season not knowing where to go. But, I thought as the season went along, we got to where we playing pretty good football, even when we were in trouble, and there were some guys on the sideline who were into it. So, I think we've made progress. Whether we've made enough with the kind of schedule we were talking about, who knows? It's what we have to play."

Just to clarify, you said if you had to do it over again, you'd put Bolden in there. Did you mean yesterday?
"I said maybe I would have played Bolden a little."

Did you specifically mean yesterday?
"No, I mean just the whole year."

With special teams and all the attention you're paying to it, is that system working the way you're doing it? Do you need more of an emphasis from one coach on it?
"I don't think that's the problem at all. If I did, I'd change it. No."

The Pitt job opened up again yesterday. If in fact they are interested in Tom Bradley, what are your thoughts on that?
"Well, if they ask me, I'll tell them. I think Tommy is a fine coach. He's got good strong city of Pittsburgh contacts. He has a brother (Jim) who is an orthopedic surgeon and the head surgeon for the Steelers and the whole bit, so I think that Tommy should be a very, very prominent person as a possibility. The athletic director's job these days is a little different. Some of you guys have heard me make that speech. Ben Schwartzwalder, Lord have mercy on him, he used to say, 'Hey, an athletic director can fire one football coach. He can't fire two. After the second one, he's gone.' I mean, that was the old... things have changed. A lot of these guys have never even played football who are making decisions. They're letting too many people outside of the organization have that kind of impact. I think Tommy is, and should be, a very, very strong candidate. I have not talked to him about Temple. Tommy has done a good job. I think he's a good recruiter, a good coach, he's organized and I think he certainly deserves consideration."

How much will McGloin's performance yesterday impact your decision on how you're going to handle the quarterbacks in the off-season and into the spring?
"I've got to sit down with the coaches and we've got to look as a group at the tapes. There are a couple of things that we may... it's always easier to blame one guy. I'm very reluctant to do that. I made the statement, I may have second guessed myself for not playing Bolden a little bit, just because I think it would have been good if something had happened to McGloin and at least Bolden would have been in a couple of tough football games. That part of it bothers me, and that was my decision that was made. I don't know what I'm going to do until we have a chance to digest everything and I have a chance to spend a little time with the squad and the staff. And, we've got to get on the road recruiting. We're close to about three or four kids that we can go on the road this week (to see). We spent some time last week... I spent a lot of time on the phone last week talking to the recruits, some kids that we think we had a shot at. Now, the guys can't go on the road the week after, they can go on the road this week, but the week after is the American Football Coaches Association meetings and you're not allowed on the road then. So, we've got some work to do and you've got to do first things first, and that's the first thing we've got to get on. We need about three players that are hanging out there that are good players that we think we have a shot at. Whether we get them or not, we'll see."

Your thoughts on Derek Moye and the season he had?
"I think Derek Moye is a good, solid player. I really do. I thought our wideouts overall had a pretty good year. We dropped a couple of passes yesterday early in the game that would have made a big difference, a couple of first down passes and on third down that we didn't catch, and for that, you have to give Florida credit. Florida, they gave us a lot of room and when we did have to catch the ball in a crowd, they knocked us around a little bit. They were very aggressive yesterday, Florida. That was the most aggressive I've seen them defensively."

How did you spend your evening last night and was it hard to sleep going over the game?
"I never sleep after a game, win or lose. I sleep before the game. There's nothing I can do then, but after the game, you second guess yourself, play the game over, "why this, why that?"... So I didn't get much sleep but... we've got 10 grandkids here. You try to sleep with kids walking in and out of the room. Now, most of you guys write like you're asleep half the time (laughter)."

You mentioned recruiting. How are you handling the questions that kids have for you in terms of your longevity?
"I don't get the question. They may ask the assistant coaches, I don't know, but I just tell them, "hey, what you're looking at is what you're going to get, and the program is going to be here." Nobody can predict what... would you have predicted what happened at Pitt? All right? There's no guarantee on anything, but I intend to be here and I intend to work hard at the recruiting, and I think we're a few players away that we need to add if we want to be solid depth-wise. I'm a little worried about a couple of positions that we may not be quite as deep as we should be with quality kids. I mean, to go out and maybe, play for a national championship."

You used to say that you told kids (recruits), no matter whether I'm here, someone on the staff will be coaching the team, and you don't say that anymore...
"I don't say that anymore?"

I don't hear you say that anymore. Is that still true or not?
"Well, I try not to say anymore than I have to, believe it or not. No, I tell them. I say, "right now, I'm planning to be here, and if not, hopefully you'll take a look at the program." You know, we have kids... it's amazing how many kids when we go some place show up that have played for us. We must have had a dozen kids that came to practice in the days we were down here, and then they had a little reunion Thursday night and there was about 20-25 kids who have played for us. I haven't seen Sean Farrell in 10-12 years. He showed up and so did a lot of guys. Brandon Short came down with his wife from New York and Mark Tate and Mark Robinson, all those guys came down. So, they got something out of the program besides just the football."

There's a reason they come down. They don't come down to look at the buildings. They come down to look at you guys because you've been here forever.
"I didn't know you were a psychiatrist, too (laughter). What, do you know what they come here for? They may be looking at the girls in the bikinis. Geez, I don't know. They come down and they come around practice and they talk about what a great experience... Thursday night they were over there they were having a great time. It was fun to be around them."

There are very few programs like this. Like, none. Florida, from the end of the 2008 season, to this game yesterday, had two coaches left, and one of them was Urban (Meyer).
"I can't be worried about that. You guys are trying to sell newspapers. You're trying to create problems. I mean, you are. I talk to a kid... if you're a prospect and you're going to ask me a question, we're going to have the same... You're going to have to go to class, you're going to have to do this, you're going to have to do that, these are the guys you're going to work with. Take a look around. Take a look at the town. See if you like it. Take a look at our weight room. Take a look at our trainer. Take a look at our academic support. You look at the guys on this trip that have made a contribution to this program and to the university... Take a look at our women's volleyball team with Russ Rose. We've got one of the greatest coaches that ever coached, coaching our women's volleyball team. You're creating some things that never come up. Now, maybe they come up to an assistant coach, I don't know. Maybe they come up to you guys, I don't know if some kid maybe doesn't think he's getting enough attention and he says something. I don't know. I can only tell you what my experience with them was. It was, "hey, this is the way it is, and this is the way it's going to be, and hopefully you pick the school for the right reasons, and it may not be Penn State." I've never told a kid there's only one school for him. I wouldn't do that. Heck, I have five kids of my own and none of them pay any attention to me, so why should some guy that doesn't know me pay any attention to me? I don't get to spend that kind of time with them. Nobody does."

Has Tim Curley or Dr. Spanier at any point inquired about the possibility of a succession like they had at Florida State or anything like that?
"No. OK? Geez."

Could you talk about Paul Jones and the progress he made this year?
"I think Paul Jones has got some ability. Paul didn't have a great high school background academically, so we decided that it was in his best interest if he just did what he... we didn't let the football interfere with him getting a good start academically, and he had a good, he did a good job his first semester. But he's got ability. Now, all I've seen him is on the scout team and he's reading off a card. But, he's a big kid. He can run, has a big, strong arm, and he's really a good kid to be around. He does anything you ask him to do, and he's done the job academically, which is the most important thing for us right now."

You mentioned some positions concern you because of the lack of depth. What are they?
"Until we get through spring practice, I'm not sure what because we may move guys around. But, I think we need some, and I don't need to get into that because they're going to use it against us one way or another in recruiting. If I tell you we're looking for this, some bright assistant somewhere is going to say, they're not even interested in you; they need this. I mean, in fact, I'm not even sure it's legal for me to even discuss anything about recruiting."

I'm just asking about positions; the guys coming back for next year...
"No, we're in pretty good shape, really. But, we're not there yet. We had an awful lot of young kids. We brought a lot of kids... and then the injuries. We had six or seven kids that came down and didn't do a thing."

If spring practice were to open next week, would it be an open competition with the three guys (quarterbacks)?
"I don't know yet. I said I've got to look at the tapes. I want to sit down with some coaches and sit down with some kids on the squad. Every year is different; every situation is different. I know you guys are looking, 'hey, what's he going to do about this, what are they going to do...' I don't really know yet. Somebody said, "how much did you sleep?" I didn't sleep last night, but I wasn't looking ahead, I was just trying to figure out maybe if I could learn something from what happened yesterday. I was pleased overall, except for the fact that we let it get off the hook against a good football team."

I don't know how much you know about the Ohio State situation with the suspended players, but if you do could you talk about Coach Tressel's decision to kind of get the plans for next year before he let them play their bowl game?
"There again, I have not spent any time with that. My feeling is, we tried to recruit [Terrelle] Pryor. I don't know some of the other kids. I think Pryor is a pretty darn good kid, I really do. My association with him, everything was [hand gesture]... I'm not going to get into throwing rocks. I think Jimmy certainly has proven that he can handle whatever is going to come his way as best he can, as best for what's good for Ohio State. I don't even know who the five guys...I know Pryor because he's a Pennsylvania kid. He's from Jeannette, and I spent some time with him. But the other ones I don't even know."

Joe, do you expect any of your juniors to proceed and enter the NFL?
"I would think that we might have one or two kids leave. I was shocked last year when we lost the big kid [Aaron Maybin] to the first round (2009). His dad said to me, "he's going to leave, he's going to go pro." I said, "geez, you've got to be kidding." I said he wouldn't even get drafted. First round draft pick, got 15 million bucks. I said I don't make that in a week, it takes me at least six months (laughter)."

You might have one or two (leave early)?
"I think there's one or two that will be a little bit, depending on what some guy gets to him and sells him a bill of goods. I don't know."

You had your fewest sacks this year since Larry Johnson became the defensive line coach. Is that an area of concern or do you think that injuries kind of decimated that area?
"People are doing a better job in picking up some stuff. But that's not because of Larry's coaching... Larry's done a heck of a job. I thought our defense played a good game."

I was wondering if that was an area of concern for you, the sacks?
"I couldn't tell you how many sacks we had. All I could do is tell you the score. I thought we played a pretty good defensive game, when you consider we had a touchdown scored on a punt, what did we have, 4-5 interceptions? Five interceptions, okay? We're in the ballgame until the last minute. I thought we played a pretty good defensive game and I thought that's the best I've seen Florida react to the ball and be as aggressive as they've been. I thought that Florida played a heck of a football game."

In regards to the situation at Ohio State, do you talk to your kids about those situations and how to avoid them in general?
"They can read. OKAY? I've got other things to do besides pointing fingers at other people. We give them a sheet - these are the rules - and they sign it. I don't know whether they read it. We don't have a quiz. They get a sheet. They all know what they can do and what they can't do and they sign it and turn it into the equipment guys and we've got it on file. If they don't read it, I'm not going to go around. There's got to be a little trust there. But that doesn't mean, I'm not saying that we don't have somebody come into town and says to a kid that he knows, 'Hey, how about meeting me at the Tavern, I'll take you out for dinner.' What are you going to do? You have a guy walking around at every restaurant... a kid can't go have dinner with a friend? I don't know what the rules are, I really don't. I don't even know what the Ohio State kids are being blamed for. The only I think I know about is they're blaming Pryor for getting tattoos."

In exchange for a tattoo they give them an autographed whatever, football...
"Ah, for God's sakes. Maybe we'll get [Dave] Jonesy tattooed, right across [the face] (laughter)."

I think I got your drift on the [succession plan] question, it seemed pretty clear, but I was wondering how much you felt that you benefited when you became the assistant associate head coach for recruiting and transition purposes, and is it just not something that you want to do to anoint somebody on the staff, no matter who that may be, you just don't feel comfortable doing that?
"Was I ever the associate head coach?"

Yeah, according to your bio [laughter]...
"[Laughs] Honest to God, I never knew that. The only thing I know was when Rip (Engle) was going to leave, Sever Torretti probably should have gotten the job. Tor said no, and he went in and talked to (Athletic Director) Ernie McCoy and he said, 'Ernie, I think Joe Paterno is the guy for it.' Ernie called me in and said, 'You want to be the head coach?' I said, "yeah," he said "okay," we shake hands, 20,000 bucks a year. That was the deal. And then I didn't have tenure. Every other coach had had tenure. About six months later I walked over and said, 'How come I didn't get tenure?' Because we were all teaching then. I taught volleyball for a couple of years, Jim O'Hora taught swimming, Charlie Speidel, one of the great coaches (wrestling) was a dance coach. We were all coaches and they all have tenure. I always tell the story, Speidel was walking into Rec Hall one day when Eric Walker was president, and Eric used to love to play squash. He was walking in the building and Charlie was walking down. He said, 'What's the matter Charlie?' Charlie said, 'I've got a lousy squad, I've got a couple of guys... I think I may take a leave of absence." Walker says, 'you can't take a leave of absence.' Charlie turned to him and said, 'Yes I can Doc, I've got tenure, I'm allowed a leave of absence.' Walker says, 'If you've got tenure, you can't take a leave of absence if you're one year within retiring.' Charlie says, 'I'm not within one year of retiring. Walker said, 'Charlie, every coach is within one year of retiring. [Laughs] That's a true story."

But you had Franny [Ganter] as an assistant head coach at one point...
"Franny turned down the Michigan State job, and he came to me and said, 'What do you think?' I said, "Fran, if I get out of this pretty quick, you've got as good of a shot at the job as anybody. I don't want to name the head coach. I want to make sure that if they're going to take somebody that I don't think fits in, I'm going to be more interested in protecting the assistant coaches than I have been anything else. I want to make sure there isn't some guy hanging out there that doesn't have a job, who's got a lot of little kids. We've made some arrangements for the staff in case something would happen to me, but Franny, I think you're right about Franny. I thought that he would have been, and it didn't work out because I kept going and Franny, he had a shot at the BC job, but I don't think he ever followed up on that one. I know he had the Michigan State job, because the president called me a couple of times about it. Then he lost his wife very suddenly, unfortunately. Karen was such a lovely woman. Franny's four boys were here (in Tampa)."

Joe, looking at the defense over the entire season, how disappointed are you with their performance. Did they take a step back and why were missed tackles such a problem this year?
"Well, of course, you've got to give the other guy... some of those guys we've played against were pretty good. Some of those young guys are unsure of themselves. They go in there and they're not in the right spot, when you're playing against some of the backs and some of the skill people that we've played against, particularly on the road, you can't not be indecisive. You've got to go at them and the whole bit. I think you take some of the younger kids, I mean, some of the older kids like (Bani) Gbadyu have played banged up, the kid from down in South Jersey we thought was going to be really good, (Gerald) Hodges, got banged up (first play of Alabama game). We've had guys in and out. (Michael) Mauti was lost for 3-4 games, somebody else 3-4 weeks. So they never really... in this game we stayed pretty healthy and I thought they played pretty well. We missed the one, maybe two tackles and got a missed assignment on the sweep that the kid got the touchdown that shouldn't have happened, on the reverse. We were in good position, but... I think we're not as good as we can be, but I think you've got to be fair to the kids, they just weren't sure about some things."

Joe, will Nick Sukay be ready for the spring?
"I hope. He's had a history of injuries, but I'm hoping. Sukay's a pretty good player."

How about Derrick Thomas, he was a guy who played in the nickel earlier in the year and got into some trouble, is he going to be back?
"I have to talk to him, I don't know yet. I've got to look at his grades. I haven't seen... according to NCAA rules, a certain normal progress and things like that that the kid has to maintain in order to be able to be eligible for the bowl game. Now, we have two kids, I don't want to get into who they are, that were ineligible. They wouldn't have been factors in the game. I got from the academic people that everybody else was okay. If you need a .9 and a guy has a .91, he isn't exactly killing them academically, so I don't... I have to look at grades when I get back. I've got some grades with me in my suitcase that I'll look at on the plane."

Did Stephfon Green get hurt again yesterday? Is it similar to what happened in the Rose Bowl?
"Hurt his ankle. I turned to the doc, I said, 'Where's Green?' He said he hurt that ankle. He's been very, very injury prone, and he's kid that likes to play. He gets angry if he's not playing, but I had intended to play him and (Silas) Redd a little bit more yesterday, and, of course, (Evan) Royster had to carry the load."

What's the latest on Drew Astorino?
"Astorino is all right. He's shaken up a little bit. I think Astorino, he needs to just take a break for a while. He's played hurt, he's been banged around."

Did you say anything to McGloin to help him get over the game or anything?
"He's just a freshman, a redshirt freshman. I think he obviously loses his concentration every once in a while. Things start going real well for him, he starts getting careless, so you kind of tie that together a little bit. I think we've got to give the other kid a chance to compete against him. We'll see what happens."

You often talk about how you don't like early enrolling all that much, does the way that it turned out with Bolden winning the job kind of re-enforce that for you?
"I don't know whether that was a factor or was not a factor. We played...what was the score of the Michigan State-Alabama game?"

Alabama 49-7...
"That shocks me, because I thought Michigan State at the end of the year was a pretty good football team. They lost, I guess Northwestern got licked, too. The reason I bring that up, when I looked at the schedule before we started, I worried whether or not we could handle Alabama on the road with the young team, Iowa on the road and we had Ohio State on the road. Michigan and Ohio State both had open dates before we played them. So I looked at that thing, and the game that was the most disappointing to me was the Illinois game, because Illinois was struggling at that time. I think you've got to give that coach (Ron Zook) credit, he kept them together and they ended up being a pretty good football team. When we played them, they were all over the place and we were terrible. We had not recovered from the games we had lost, the Iowa game and so forth. I knew we had a tough schedule. You'd have to be stupid to not to say, 'hey you're going down to Alabama, the defending national champs.' A bunch of kids in that stadium, the whole town was fired up. It was kind of fun, but I mean, you know, a little more experience in key spots and it would have been a lot more fun. The same thing with Iowa, when we played them they were on a run. We had a shot at Ohio State and got careless."

Having said that, next year's schedule, you've got Nebraska at home, at Ohio State and at Wisconsin in the last three games, that's about as tough as a three-game stretch as you could have...
"Well, I really honest to goodness haven't looked at that. I spent a lot of time looking at Florida. See, I thought at one time we were going to end up playing South Carolina, and then the Outback Bowl came along and we're playing Florida, so I spent an awful a lot of time looking at Florida. A year ago, when we came back from LSU, I felt a little bit more comfortable. I knew we had a lot of young players, so I spent a lot of time looking at the guys that I thought we were going to have trouble with. Obviously, I was right, we did have trouble with them."

 

 

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