“When I’m down and looking up will they put 399 or 401 on there? Who the hell cares?”
– Joe Paterno
That was the line of the day as Penn State head coach Joe Paterno addressed the media at the Big Ten’s annual media day in Chicago. Paterno, as always, was one of the higher profile speakers for the day and this may have been one of the more interesting media day appearances in Paterno’s career. With questions about his health looming and the media clamoring for Paterno’s take on Big Ten expansion it would be a major let down if Paterno did not share his thoughts on some of the topics.
Paterno made his seemingly annual statement that he is in good health and he currently has no plans to retire. This statement coming after an off-season that saw Paterno cancel multiple public appearances at alumni events due to illness. Representatives from the university have consistently stated that Paterno will be on the sidelines in 2010 to try and ease the fan base.
“I feel really good,” Paterno told reporters at Big Ten media day in Chicago. “As long as I enjoy it, I’ll continue to coach unless I don’t think I can do a good job or unless somebody else doesn’t think I can do a good job. Right now, I have no plans whatsoever about going another one year, two years, five years, whatever.”
With Paterno closing in on a monumental 400th win the media asked the head coach for his thoughts on the rare milestone. “When I’m down and looking up will they put 399 or 401 on there?” Paterno responded in an attempt to suggest that he truly does not concern himself with individual win totals. “Who the hell cares?” he continued.
Paterno came to Chicago with his summer tan and was reported to looking a little thinner than usual. But should fans be concerned that Paterno’s health is an issue? “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” Paterno quipped, paraphrasing Mark Twain.
When not discussing his health Paterno shared his thoughts on his team’s big game this season at Alabama, defending BCS Champions. Not offering any new opinions on the game, Paterno said the game will be a “good learning experience” for his team.
Here are some other brief highlights from Paterno’s media day presser;
Big Ten Championship game
When asked about his thoughts on a possible Big Ten football championship game, Paterno said that he preferred a game to be played outdoors, which would mean Paterno gives a thumbs down to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Ford Field in Detroit. But Paterno does not make those decisions.
Nebraska joining the Big Ten
It should be little surprise that Paterno welcomes the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten (effective July 1, 2011). Paterno shared some of his memories of coaching against Nebraska as an assistant coach and believes the Huskers will be a great addition to the conference.
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