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Paterno says he gave driver ‘safety alert’

Coach reported to campus cops after incident in which he says car ran stop sign.

Penn State center A.Q. Shipley in action against Notre Dame earlier this season.

Fred Adams /the Times Leader

Penn State coach Joe Paterno acknowledged Thursday that he admonished another driver last Friday afternoon, calling the incident a “safety alert” for a woman who he said ran a stop sign on campus.

Speaking on his weekly radio call-in show, Paterno said he wanted to give his account of the story that had been widely speculated about on the Internet since Monday.

The 80-year-old coach said he blew his horn and pulled up alongside of a car that failed to stop on Bigler Road on Penn State’s campus.

“I pointed at her ... and I said, ‘Don’t do it again. I took down your license number,’ ” Paterno said. “Of course, I hadn’t taken down the license number.

“Then I heard a knock on my window and there was a man there and he said, ‘That’s my wife.’ And I said – and I shouldn’t have said this – I said, ‘That’s your problem.’ ”

The couple eventually reported the exchange to university police. No charges were filed.

According to an Associated Press report, university police Chief Steve Shelow relayed to Penn State officials that the case was closed and that no citations would be issued.

“There was nothing to pursue,” Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon told the AP on Thursday.

Paterno said he used no profanity in the exchange and that he viewed it as a “safety alert,” going on to say that he frequently stops student drivers on and near campus when he witnesses traffic violations in order to educate them.

He added that he was “very, very resentful” that the situation had been reported in the media.

“It’s not fair,” Paterno said. “I’m not the greatest guy in the world … but now this is a national story.”

The incident occurred on the same weekend that senior tailback Austin Scott was suspended indefinitely for violating an unspecified team rule and two freshmen were cited for underage drinking. Paterno said Tuesday he was also looking into the possible involvement of multiple players in a fight.

Two starters – safety Anthony Scirrotto and defensive tackle Chris Baker – are still awaiting trial for felony charges related to an April fight at an off-campus apartment. Following that, Paterno ordered his entire team to participate in a series of community service ventures, including helping clean up Beaver Stadium on Sunday mornings after home games.

Paterno also held tight end Andrew Quarless and cornerback Willie Harriott out of the first two games of the season after both were cited with underage drinking in the early morning during preseason camp.

Now Paterno can count himself among the off-field distractions.

“Sometimes,” he said, “the ol’ man, he gets a little bit outta whack.”

Improving up front

Penn State running backs totaled an impressive 256 yards on the ground last week against Iowa. Not that they’re taking all the credit for it.

“Honestly, I didn’t have to do much,” Evan Royster said. “The line was opening up things (for us) like crazy.”

It was arguably the best performance of the season for the Nittany Lions offensive line – this despite playing without injured senior guard John Shaw, who hasn’t seen action since the second half against Notre Dame in Week 2.

Junior Mike Lucian has performed admirably at right guard in his absence, though he switched with Rich Ohrnberger against the Hawkeyes and went to the left side.

Paterno said Lucian’s play has impressed him thus far.

“Mike has hung in there,” Paterno said. “Mike is not a great physical guy. He’s really got to hustle and he’s got to be smart and he’s got to have good technique.

“He’s blocking guys that are 20 pounds, 25 pounds bigger than he is, and he’s a good football player.”

up next

No. 19 Wisconsin at Penn State

3:30 p.m. Saturday

Beaver Stadium at University Park

TV: ABC

ON THE WEB

For complete Penn State coverage, read Derek Levarse’s blog at www.timesleader.com

“Then I heard a knock on my window and there was a man there and he said, ‘That’s my wife.’ And I said – and I shouldn’t have said this – I said, ‘That’s your problem.’”

Joe Paterno
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