STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno will stay in the hospital at least through Wednesday, and possibly longer, as a precautionary step in the Penn State coach’s recovery from left leg surgery.
The 79-year-old coach was in good condition Tuesday night at Mount Nittany Medical Center and had not had any complications from the operation, said Guido D’Elia, a team spokesman. Doctors were being “extra-cautious” and would take it day-to-day in determining when he could be released, D’Elia said.
The feisty Paterno, eager to get home, “has not been the best rehab patient,” D’Elia said. Paterno still wants to return to practice, and missing Saturday’s game against Temple “was not a consideration” for him, D’Elia said.
Doctors operated Sunday on Paterno to repair a fractured shin bone and two torn knee ligaments in the left leg. The 41-year head coaching veteran was walloped along the sideline on Saturday by two players in the second half of Penn State’s loss to Wisconsin.
The Nittany Lions have pressed on without him, though practice has been a little quieter.
“For the last three years that I’ve been up here, he’s been up and down the field yelling at us,” center A.Q. Shipley said Tuesday. “Not hearing the voice is different.”
Paterno has been studying scouting reports and game plans from his hospital bed, giving assistants an earful over the phone and reviewing practice tapes.
“I guess he’s doing OK. I know he’s anxious to get back at it,” defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. “He’s been driving us crazy down here with calls.”
Team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli has said that Paterno was expected to make a full recovery after several screws were inserted into the injured leg, which was also fitted with a temporary brace. Paterno might be able to put weight back on the leg in about six weeks.
If he returns to practice, Paterno might be confined to roaming the sidelines in a golf cart, at least during practice.
But the logistics of Paterno in a cart on the field during a game might be tough. For one, Paterno might not have a good view if he’s relegated to sitting. And sidelines can get pretty full on game days with players, coaches, school officials, referees and recruits, so the coach’s box above the field might afford him the best view.
Either way, Bradley said his boss doesn’t like the spotlight.
“He’s probably a little embarrassed that all this attention is on him instead of the team,” said Bradley, a lieutenant under Paterno for 28 years.
Cornerback Tony Davis said Bradley runs team meetings in Paterno’s absence.
“Coach Bradley keeps everything the same,” Davis said. “No matter what happens, he keeps everything the same.”
The Nittany Lions can likely wrap up a date to a New Year’s Day bowl game with wins at home over the Owls and next week against Michigan State. Shipley said he expects his head coach back with the team come Saturday.
“I wouldn’t assume any other way,” he said. “He’s got a tough nature, a gritty attitude. He’s a stubborn man.”