September 03, 2011
Win No. 402 came a little differently today for Joe Paterno, who looked on the press box as Penn State thumped Indiana State, 41-7, to open Paterno's 46th season as head coach. Not by his own choice, of course — strictly doctor's orders.
"I really probably could have [coached from the sideline] today but the doc didn't want me to do it," said Paterno, 84, who was hospitalized with hip and pelvic injuries and being run over by one of his own players in a preseason practice. "They're afraid I won't get out of the way and maybe something fluky would happen and I'm still sore."
Earlier in the week, Paterno told the media it was "probably 50/50" whether he'd be on the sideline or stranded up top, and not for the first time due to "something fluky." The most notable exile came after Paterno suffered a broken leg in November, 2006, when one of his players took him out along the sideline. Paterno infamously rode a scooter into games for the rest of the season.
"I can walk on it," Paterno said of his latest injury. "I've got to learn to walk up and down steps without the cane, the whole bit."
There has been widespread speculation, as there seems to be every year, that this season will be Paterno's last in Happy Valley. Having coached through nine United States presidents, Paterno is college football's all-time winningest coach and has been on the sidelines for five undefeated teams. The contract he signed in December 2008 expires at the end of this year.
Paterno has not indicated where he plans to be for next week's visit from Alabama, but hopes he'll be back on his feet in time to remain on the field.
"I would think I'm going to be alright this coming week," Paterno said.
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Kristian Dyer is on Twitter: Follow him @KristianRDyer.