STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno met with reporters today for the first time since the day after the Lions' loss to Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl. The 82-year-old coach is free of the cane his bad hip forced him to use last season and looked in fine health. Here are some of the highlights of his 30-minute press conference:
ON HIS NEW HIP:
I was a little concerned about whether I needed a little help at practice. I went over practice for a couple hours the other day – no problems whatsoever.
ON LINGERING FEELINGS FROM THE USC LOSS:
We didn’t play well. We didn’t coach well. I walked away not feeling good about anything and I think we can feel better.
ON THE WINTER WORKOUTS:
We got some young kids that we really never had to muster. Some of them have been overweight. I felt we had to zero in on getting those people in the shape that it’s going to take for us to be a good football team. I’ve thought we had a good winter program.
ON LARRY JOHNSON'S DECISION TO STAY AT PENN STATE:
I couldn’t promise him defensive coordinator or anything like he had from [Illinois]. I thought it was important that we wanted him to stay and I thought that if the time came and he wanted to be a head coach maybe he didn’t have to be a coordinator. And I think Larry would like to be a head coach and I think he’s capable of being a really fine head coach.
ON SEAN LEE NOT ENGAGING IN CONTACT DRILLS:
He doesn’t have to prove anything to us. We know Lee’s a football player. We have some young kids we have to find some things about.
ON JARED ODRICK'S RECENT ARREST FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT:
Jared’s been a pretty good kid. He called me up right after it happened the next day and we talked about it. Obviously he had too much to drink. Right now he’s OK. You only get so many shots, though.
ON FLORIDA STATE COACH BOBBY BOWDEN POSSIBLY FORFEITING 10 WINS BECAUSE OF NCAA SANCTIONS:
Nobody wants to win be default or anything like that. I don’t think that should have anything to do with [Florida State’s] record. I don’t think Bobby had much to do with what happened. … I don’t really care about that thing.
ON REPLACING KICKER KEVIN KELLY;
I think someone would got to beat out Colin Wagner. I think Colin did a good job when we used him.
ON SEAN LEE'S LINEBACKER POSITION:
Lee’s darn near good enough to be a strong safety athletically. … Right now if we were going to suit up tomorrow he’d play inside until we find out things about the other kids.
ON THE SECONDARY:
We got to get a secondary that can stand on its own two feet. I think that’s one of the big jobs we have.
ON NFL DRAFT EARLY ENTREES AARON MAYBIN AND MAURICE EVANS:
I hope they made the right decision for their sake. You never know. They hooked up with people. Again this sounds like I’m being critical of somebody else, but I think the scouts tell them what they want to hear.
ON FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK KEVIN NEWSOME:
I’m glad Newsome’s here. I think that’s a big help. I was obviously disappointed Devlin left because until the end of the year I had no idea he was thinking about transferring. A lot of the kids on the team said to me afterward they knew he was going to transfer, which is fine. He’s got to do what’s best for him.
I do think the fact that Newsome was able to come in January will help. But he’s still got to beat out [walk-on Mike] McGloin.