The Washington Post

Joe Paterno may coach Penn State opener from press box

“Being upstairs is for the birds.” — JoePa on coaching from the press box. (Pat Little/AP)

Paterno, 84, was hospitalized earlier this month after suffering injuries to his hip and right arm during practice.

Last week the legendary coach reported he had “little pain” and expected to be on the field for the team’s first game. Now he’s gone from probable to questionable on the injury report.

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?

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.


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