Penn State coach Joe Paterno held his weekly teleconference today -- despite the Lions' bye week -- and the 81-year-old seemed relaxed, joking with reporters. Here's a snippet of what he had to say with ... you know the drill.
1. Asked about the schedule during this bye week, Paterno said the team had the day off yesterday, would practice without pads today, go at it tomorrow and Thursday, have the weekend off and then get back to work next week. Still, he said, "We fouled up the week already because we had a press conference." (Zinger!)
2. Paterno said that he was scheduled to see his doctors tomorrow morning so that his right leg can be checked out. They will run the standard tests to see what the problem is and if it would require surgery. It has been speculated that it's his hip and that he may need to have it replaced. Joe said he would most likely elect to have it treated after the season "so I can go out and recruit." (He still recruits? That's news to me.)
3. Asked about Daryll Clark's state after he suffered a concussion on Saturday, Paterno said the quarterback would rest a few days, but that he expects him back for the Iowa game next week. "I don't think there's any question he's going to be all right when we play Iowa," he said.
4. Penn State has had some mediocre recruiting classes in recent years based on the recruiting Web sites/gurus. Apparently, those people haven't gauged the Lions' talent correctly. Asked how knowledgeable this faction has proved to be, Paterno didn't waste his chance to take a shot at this growing phenomenon. "Knowledgeable isn't exactly the adjective I'd use," he said, adding, "It's a lot of hooey." (I couldn't agree more.)
5. Joe said that his assistants really haven't taken on any additional responsibilities since his injury has further limited what he can do at practice and on game day. He did say that he can't go into the office some mornings and that he participates in meetings via conference call. (Anything that keeps Joe and his BMW off the roads is a good thing.)
6. Drew Astorino apparently injured his hand Saturday. Paterno said he's OK.
7. In case you missed it, State College erupted with joy after the Lions beat Ohio State. Of course, this eruption precipitated into some vandalism and conflicts with police. Paterno said that he was happy the students were celebrant, but that vandalism takes it too far. (Words of advice for Philly. This place is going to burn if the Phils win the World Series.)
8. The last time Penn State went 9-0 was in 1999. That team, No. 2 in the country at the time, was then upset by Minnesota on Homecoming, lost to Michigan and then Michigan State and dropped out of sight. The Lions lost those three games by a total of eight points. Asked if he could use that situation to guard against the Lions' remaining three games this season, Paterno said he has a different cast of characters this time around, mentioning without name a few players from the '99 team that were expected to be high draft picks and took their eyes off the prize. (Paging LaVar Arrington and Courtney Brown.)
9. Last question: Asked if he plans on returning next season, Paterno said, "Have I ever said I wasn't coming back?" (Duh.)