A battle between two old coaches

   Maybe you could call Saturday's game between Penn State and Eastern Illinois the "Metamucil Bowl."

   On one sideline of Beaver Stadium will be the Nittany Lion himself, 82-year-old Joe Paterno. On the other sideline will be the youngster, 71-year-old Bob Spoo of the visiting Panthers.

   By my count, Spoo is one of eight Division I head coaches (both FBS and FCS) hired in 1987 or earlier who are still at their respective school. Paterno leads the list, of course, having become head coach at Penn State in 1966.

   During a teleconference Monday with reporters on the Penn State beat, Spoo, whose previous job was assistant coach at Purdue, sounded rather excited to be matching up with Paterno.

   "I'm just amazed and have great respect for coach Paterno," Spoo said. "He's a great role model for all coaches. He'll continue to be the winningest Division I coach in college football and it's an honor and a privilege to coach against him."

    Spoo said he met Paterno in the mid 1980s when he was still at Purdue.

    "At that time, we had some pretty good quarterbacks in Mark Herrman and Jim Everett, and we were in the shotgun a lot," he said. "Coach knew I was from Purdue and he said, 'You're the guys that line up in the shotgun?' I don't think coach Paterno was very fond of it at that time but he's adapted."

    Paterno said he didn't know Spoo well but respected his work.

    "Everybody speaks nothing but the best about him," he said. "His teams play well and they execute. They do a great job of coaching. I think it's going to be a real good, tough football game. They play the game the way I like to see our kids play -- no shenanigans, all business. They execute. They don't beat themselves. I think that's all a credit to Bob and his staff. Hopefully we'll have a good football game on Saturday."

    Like Paterno, who received a new three-year contract after last season, Spoo has been the target of critics who think he should step down. He was in danger of losing his job in 1994 after his team got off to a slow start, but the Panthers rallied and he stuck around.

    Spoo said he wants to continue coaching "as long as we win and I feel good about our program and we're competitive." Speaking for himself and Paterno, he added, "It's been our life for so many years. Why leave if you don't have to? I give credit to Penn State for keeping a man who's truly respected and admired."

    Longest-tenured Division I coaches at the same school (year hired in parentheses):

    Joe Paterno, Penn State (1966)

    Bob Ford, Albany (1973)

    Bobby Bowden, Florida State (1976)

    Chris Ault, Nevada (1976)*

    Jimmye Laycock, William & Mary (1980)

    Andy Talley, Villanova (1985)

    Bob Spoo, Eastern Illinois (1987)

    Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech (1987)

    *-Ault did not coach between 1996 and 2003 to concentrate on his duties as athletic director.