Redskin offensive coordinator Joe Walton is the subject of gossip that he might become the New York Giants' head coach if it is decided to let John McVay go, but other speculation is that Walton would have strong opposition, from Giant defensive coordinator Dick Modzelewski, or even from Joe Paterno of Penn State.

The theory about Modzelewski is that he would not have left Cleveland, where he had a flourishing restaurant, if he hadn't had some sort of promise about the next head-coaching vacancy in the Giant organization.

Besides being a former Giant in the defensive line with Rosey Grier, Jim Katcavage and Andy Robustelli, now director of operations, Modzelewski was named interim head coach of the Browns when Forrest Gregg resigned in 1977 and before Sam Rutigliano was appointed.

Paterno would capture the imagination of New York fans if he could be persuaded to make a parting with Penn State. Of course, he previously has rejected offers to become a coach in pro football, most notably from New England and the New York Jets.

People who think they know the workings of Paterno's mind say he is sentimental about the area where he was raised - Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., which is, incidentally, where Vince Lombardi grew up.

Friends of Paterno recall that he "loved the Giants" when he was a kid, and he has been a Dodger baseball fan ever since he was an usher at Ebbets Field.

They say Paterno will have no challenge left at Penn State if he wins the national championship. He has had three unbeaten teams and made numerous bowl appearances, but Penn State was never ranked No. 1 in the nation until Tuesday.

If Penn State beats Pittsburgh and wins in a bowl game, Paterno watchers say he would have no challenge left, except to restore the Giants to glory, at age 50.

Whether Wellington Mara, president of the Giants, would be willing to concede the powers that Paterno almost certainly would request, is debatable.

Yet, it is suggested, New Yorkers might not accept another former Giant player as head coach, in view of their fortunes with past selections.

Mara might have to reckon with his nephew, Tim Mara, vic president and treasurer, who is the son of the late Jack Mara. Wellington and Tim each owns 50 percent of the stock.

Paterno would bring the stature of someone who is seen as more than a coach to the Giants. His image of integrity in college football influenced politically active persons in Pennsylvania to urge him to become a candidate for lieutenant governor about six years ago.

He was said to have politely refused for the same reason that he would not accept the pre coaching jobs - because he is not interested in playing second fiddle to anyone.It is believed to be an emotional judgment he makes when he ranks New York as The Big Apple.

Virtue doesn't trumph Playboy magazine printed 6,999,444 copies of its December issue that shows some undraped former NFL cheerleaders. "Pro," the NFL's publication that is sold at games, prints 350,000 copies an issue, and when cheerleaders are pictured, their charms are shrouded in modesty.