November 23, 2010
OK, you can kids can put away your awkwardly leading questions and your maudlin montages and all the sappy stuff for another year: Joe Paterno will be back in Happy Valley next season, so Saturday's home date with Michigan State isn't going to be his final game in Beaver Stadium. At least not if he has anything to say about it:
"Yeah, you got something I don't know? I'm looking forward to it," Paterno said at his weekly press conference. "We've struggled a little bit this year with youth, injuries and the whole bit. I think we can be a pretty good football team next year, and I'd like to be a part of it. It's been a good situation and I don't see any reason to leave it right now."
Later in the press conference, a reporter began a question by saying, "You said you hope to return next year," only to be cut off by Paterno, who replied, "I didn't say I hope to. I'm gonna."
Paterno acknowledged that the decision isn't 100 percent his to make, but did not sound concerned about it. "I don't think it's entirely my call. I'm not running the university," Paterno said. "But I would hope what I want to do would be taken into consideration and go from there.
2011 will be JoePa's 60th year at Penn State, his 46th as head coach. He'll be eighty-four. It will also be the last year of the three-year contract he signed when everyone was speculating about his departure back in 2008, a season he spent mostly inside the press box due to complications from a hip injury that forced him to undergo surgery at the end of the regular season. He began this season by looking unusually frail and croaky at Big Ten media days in August. He doesn't recruit off-campus anymore and presumably gave up hands-on, day-to-day control years ago.
But Paterno has been "the old man" now for going on two decades, with the annual questions that come with it, so we all know the drill. Long live Joe. He will see us all to our graves. Now don't you all have some RPMs to load on to your ePods or something?
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.