Penn State’s version of “The Not-So Young and the Restless” took another dramatic, but expected swing Thursday, when the university announced that Joe Paterno will not coach in tomorrow’s game against Temple at Beaver Stadium.
The 79-year-old head coach remains in Mount Nittany Medical Center after undergoing an operation Sunday night to repair a fractured left leg and ligament damage to his left knee. Earlier this week, Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, who performed the surgery, ruled out Paterno returning to the sidelines for the team’s final two regular-season games, but said he might consider allowing the coach to work upstairs in the coach’s box.
The doctor apparently reconsidered.
Coordinators Tom Bradley (defense) and Galen Hall (offense) will run the squad’s sideline operation as usual, with Bradley the appointed tie-breaker on gameday decisions.
According to a release put out by Penn State’s sports information department, Paterno informed his staff of his decision from his hospital room Thursday morning.
“You guys know what you’re doing and what we’ve mapped out,” he said. “I don’t need to be there creating a distraction. Enough on me, let’s get back to football.”
Plans for Paterno’s level of involvement for the Nov. 18 home game against Michigan State will be determined next week.
The Temple game will be just the third contest Paterno has missed during his 57-year career at Penn State. He has been on the sidelines for 638 of the Nittany Lions’ 640 games since 1950. As an assistant, he missed the 1955 game at Army when his father, Angelo, died. As head coach in 1977, Paterno’s son, David, was involved in a serious trampoline accident the day before the Lions’ game at Syracuse and Paterno did not attend the contest.
Senior All-American linebacker Paul Posluszny on Thursday was named one of three finalists for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the top linebacker in major college football.
Posluszny, who earned the honor last year, is joined by Ohio State sophomore James Laurinaitis and Mississippi senior Patrick Willis. The winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Dec. 7, on ESPN.
The award is named in honor of former Chicago Bears great and NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.
Should he win, Posluszny would join Oklahoma’s Brian Bosworth (1985-86) as the only repeat winner in the history of the Butkus Award. Posluszny is the first Nittany Lion to be a two-time Butkus Award finalist.
“It would be a huge honor (to win the Butkus Award twice), considering the only other guy who did that was Bosworth,” the Aliquippa resident said. “I’m just happy to be with the other two guys who are obviously great linebackers and great football players.”
“Paul is everything you’re looking for in a linebacker. He’s smart, he’s fast, he’s tough,” PSU linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden said. “He’s got great instincts and a passion for the game. Aside from all that, he’s one of the finest young men I’ve ever been around in my life.”
The Lions’ all-time leading tackler with 349, Posluszny paces the club with 93 stops this season.
Temple head coach Al Golden is one of four Owls’ coaches that played at Penn State. Golden served as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2000, working with seven members of the current PSU staff.
Mark D’Onofrio (D-coordinator), Jeff Nixon (running backs), Matt Rhule (D-line) are the other former Lions on Temple’s staff.
Golden, whose wife Kelly gave birth to the couple’s second child and first daughter, Addison Elizabeth, earlier this week, hasn’t had time to reflect on this weekend’s homecoming in State College.
“I just know when we’re on the bus ride (to Beaver Stadium), a trip I’ve made so many times, I’m sure it will come back and everything. Joe (Paterno) is Penn State. It all comes from him. Just because I’m in the stadium this week, people want to talk about that.
“He and (his wife) Sue have meant so much to so many of us. He’s had an impact on my life. If I didn’t have such a good experience at Penn State, and appreciate what he taught us, I don’t think I’d be in coaching right now. I hope I have the same impact on the players here.”
Temple at Penn State
3:30 p.m. tomorrow
TV: ESPN Regional
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