Joe Paterno has been a fixture on the Penn State sideline for the last 45 years, but it’s looking increasingly likely that he won’t be there when the Nittany Lions open their 2011 season against Indiana State on Saturday.
Paterno, 84, was hospitalized earlier this month after suffering injuries to his hip and right arm during practice.
In 2006, Paterno was forced into press box after breaking his leg during a sideline collision in a game at Wisconsin, and if those around him get their wish, he might be back upstairs this weekend. But JoePa isn’t giving up hope just yet.
“Some of the medical people want me to be upstairs. Being upstairs is for the birds. I like to be on the sidelines and get a feel for things and be able to grab a kid and tell him certain things. So I’m going to try hard to be on the sideline.”
These days, Paterno — who enters 2011 with 401 career victories — is constantly fielding questions about when he plans to hang up the clipboard. Newsflash: Another injury isn’t going to push him out the door any sooner.
“I want to stay in coaching, but not for a lot of the reasons you people may think — not because it’s an ego trip on my part or because I think I’ve got to carry the gauntlet, I’ve got to be the guy that leads the charge. No. I want to have a good, solid program. I want to be able to get up in the morning and know that I’ve done the best I can to figure out we’re doing it the way we’re supposed to be doing it, and we go from there.”
As you consider how many of the coaches in this Big Ten Network commercial are no longer in the Big Ten, ponder this question: If JoePa came to your house and asked you to come to Penn State, could you look him in the eye and turn him down?