Joe Paterno Transcript: Big Ten Media Day

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Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno

Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno

Aug. 2, 2010

CHICAGO - THE MODERATOR: Next up is Joe Paterno.

COACH PATERNO: I'm all set, I hope. It's good to be here. And I don't want to give a long statement because I'm sure you've got some questions, rather than hear me talk. I'll take questions.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Coach Paterno, I've followed your career for a long time. And I'm thinking you're going to be Penn State's coach until the day you die. What do you think about that?
COACH PATERNO: Is that wishful thinking or what? Oh, I really don't think about that. I just -- I'm enjoying it. I like to coach. I had a little bought earlier in the year, nothing serious. Didn't make a big deal out of it.

I'm feeling really good. And as long as I enjoy it, I'll continue to coach, unless I don't think I can do a good job or anybody else doesn't think I can do the job. But we'll talk about that later. But right now I have no plans whatsoever as far as whether I'm going to go another year, two years, five years or what have you. We're just going to hopefully have a decent year this year.

Q. You've had intestinal issues this last spring that you were dealing with?
COACH PATERNO: I won't get into that.

Q. I understand, too, that you're not on the road as much --
COACH PATERNO: It was a little bit below the intestines.

Q. Ouch.
COACH PATERNO: I didn't want to get into it, but...

Q. I have another question. I understand, too, you're on the road less for recruiting. And at what point do these types of things hurt recruiting for your program?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I don't know whether it's hurt our recruiting, to be frank with you. We're still in the middle of trying to get a couple of key people which would make a difference.

Our problem with numbers, and that's what people look at, is we don't have that many scholarships available. As you look at our roster, you find out that we have a lot of walk-on kids. But as far as the scholarship kids, the kids who were on grant and aid, we don't lose a lot of kids. So we really couldn't go out and get 18, 19, 20 kids this year.

 

 

So we just want to go out there and get some people, fill in where we need them, and hopefully make ourselves a little bit better. And I think we're doing all right. I really do.

Q. I'm sure you remember your first Big Ten Media Days as the new kid on the block with Penn State. I think Tom Osborne is here. What are your thoughts on Nebraska coming in with the conference expansion and your thoughts on them? You have a little bit of history with Nebraska.
COACH PATERNO: We had played Nebraska before we got into the Big Ten, and I had some great, great games with them. And I have tremendous amount of respect for not only Tom but the University of Nebraska. So I think it's a really good addition to the Big Ten.

And we're looking forward to their being part of it. I coached, actually, as an assistant coach long before -- not long before, but before even Bob Devaney or Tom did, when Bill Glassford was coaching out there. They beat us out there and they had a great running back by -- I think (Bobby) Reynolds was his name, one of the best backs in the country.

And that's going back in the '50s, some time in there. So we've had a good relationship with them. So it was good to see them get in the Big Ten. And I'm looking forward to spending a little time with Tom especially since he's here. Maybe we get a chance to visit a little bit.

Q. Joe, do you remain hopeful that the Big Ten will add a couple more teams from the East Coast but some of the teams that have been mentioned earlier?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I could get up here and have a little fun with Commissioner (Jim) Delany and tell him exactly where we ought to go. After all, I have all the answers (laughter).

I think really that the Nebraska thing was a real good move for the Big Ten. Now, whether we needed a couple more schools or not, I think we ought to leave that in the hands of Jim and the people that are going around talking to different people, doing some investigating.

Obviously, if we decide that they're going to -- that it's in the best interests of the Big Ten, I would hope we would be looking at a couple schools maybe in the East. Because it would certainly you know would be a good move for us. It would help us particularly in the recruiting, the television and all those kinds of things, that are pluses that you get when you expand as we have with Nebraska. But I think that's up to some other people right now.

Q. Do you expect to have to change your preparation for fall camp, given your health over the summer, and would you expect to be able to be on the sideline for every game this fall?
COACH PATERNO: Well, you know, again, what did Mark Twain say, the rumor of my death has been overexaggerated or something, I forget. I used to know a little bit more about those.

I really -- I didn't lose any time. I had, as I said, the problem I had was not having control of some things, and I had to be careful that I didn't get myself in a position where I would embarrass myself.

But as far as looking at tapes and talking to kids and knowing what -- getting ready for different things, there was really no difference except I couldn't make as many public appearances as I've had, because of the fact that I could be standing up here and all of a sudden have to leave.

Nobody obviously would want to be in that kind of position. So I don't seem to be any different. I think -- I hope I'm ready to go. I think I am. I've done my homework.

Q. Coach, September 11th game against Alabama. That's a game you don't have to play but you scheduled it. Fans are very excited about it. Can you tell us how you feel about playing that game?
COACH PATERNO: Playing Alabama? We've been down there a couple of times. In fact, we've had a little luck down there when we played them in season. Obviously every year's different. The Alabama team's a good football team, if not the best team around, I don't know.

But I think it's a good game for us. It's a good game early. I have a young team. Obviously we've got some growing up to do. And I think to be able to go with a bunch of kids and go down there and play defending national champion and on the road before a very hostile crowd, I think it would be a good experience. We'll be a better football team for it.

So I am not -- we have to open up with Youngstown State, and even though I know that people will make some kind of remarks about that, it's still a tough opening football game when you've got a young football team and you don't have a quarterback that's played much football, which we'll not have -- we don't have a quarterback that's played much.

So it's going to be interesting. And obviously hopefully we'll be able to play well and learn from it.


Q. What's your opinion as far as divisions go, if the Big Ten chooses to do that and where Penn State would end up in the division?
COACH PATERNO: Boy, you know, obviously when Nebraska got in the Big Ten and we started talking about a championship game, and I think maybe going to try to have a championship game as early as a year or two from now, you start saying well who is going to be here, usually you have some traditional things and things like that. I'm just glad that I don't have to make that decision. I think there's a lot of different combinations that would be good, which put us in a position where we could have a team that would be champions of the Big Ten and be in a position to go on and be national champs.

But what the makeup of each division is, I really haven't had a chance to give that that much thought. And there again, you know, actually the new kids on the block in this thing, there's some old rivalries, some traditions, there's a lot of things that have to go into this.

And I have a lot of confidence that the people who are going to make the decision will give it the thought that it's going to take to do a good job and will come up with something that will be good for the Big Ten.

Q. Joe, coaches are getting younger and younger in all sports, particularly football. College football. In an age when communication is so important, how do you communicate with these young kids on campus? Do you have much one-on-one still, or do you just rely on your capable assistants to do that?
COACH PATERNO: Well, without getting into a recruiting spiel, I think it's easier to do in a town like State College because I'm literally a 15-minute walk from the office. I'm only three blocks away from the campus. Right down from one of the town parks.

And kids walk by my house every day. And always surrounded with them, all of it. And I've tried to stay active in the affairs. My wife has been very active in doing a lot of different things at the university. And I'm around young people all the time. So I don't horse around with them. I have a couple of laughs, have a little fun with them and the whole bit.

And that hopefully keeps you young. So I don't look at it quite that way. I think your point about the coaches being younger these days is probably true. But I don't think that's because it's necessarily that the coaches want to be there, I think it's that people have been allowed to have too much to say about who the coach is, trustees and people like that, people who give you money.

When I first started to coach as a head coach, and I still do when I go around talking to people about money, I said I want your money but I don't want your two cents (laughter). And I've tried to stick by that, and I think that's what's happened to some young coaches. There's got to be money raised and unfortunately there are people who want to have their two cents involved in the thing. So we've had a turnover of some of the really good young coaches.

Q. I wonder if you've considered what it will mean to win 400 when you get there and just to be that close to Eddie Robinson. I'm sure you knew him well. What would he be thinking right now?
COACH PATERNO: Well, there again, I really haven't thought about it. Eddie Robinson was one of the great people I've known in coaching. Eddie and I were down in Washington a couple of times, talked to some government people about some things, some problems we had.

I always felt that the African-American cultures such as Jake Gaither and Eddie and some other guys had never quite got the recognition or the -- they've obviously gotten the financial rewards that so many of us have gotten out of it.

So the Eddie part of it I've thought some of. And as far as -- you know, when I'm down and looking up, are they going to put 399 on top of me or are they going to put 401? Who the hell cares? I won't know (laughter).

Q. I noticed you said to Richie a couple of weeks ago that you would hope when they were going to name your successor they'd come to you with maybe two or three names and say, What do you think? Has any kind of framework been put together that way? And has Dr. Spanier talked to you? Are you optimistic they'll ask your opinion on a successor? Or what do you think will happen there?
COACH PATERNO: I think they would. The question is whether they would ask my opinion about a successor. I would hope they'd sit down with me. I don't expect to name it. If I decide to get out of coaching, whenever it may be, I would hope that when they start looking at somebody to succeed me who may be the head coach, that they would -- if they did nothing but just throw something out to say, hey, we're thinking about so and so, and give me an opportunity to say, well, I think that's a good choice or, hey, you better take a look at this or I'm not so sure he's the best guy, have you thought about this guy.

I would hope there would be some kind of dialogue, but there's no commitment.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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