Joe Paterno said he wasn’t sure if he’d coach from the sidelines or up in the coaches booth on Saturday at Wisconsin.
Judging by how his last trip to Camp Randall went, it would be hard to blame him if he chose the latter.
Paterno’s current pains can be traced back to Penn State’s game in Madison in 2006, in which the Penn State coach seriously injured his left leg, breaking his shin and tearing ligaments in his knee in a sideline collision.
Two years later, the left leg is fine, but the right leg is suffering from arthritis because he believes he favored his left for so long.
“It gets a little better. It’s up-and-down,” Paterno said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “It’s one of those things I’m going to have for awhile, so I’ve gotta live with it.
“We’ll see by the end of the week whether I feel I can get on the sidelines or coach upstairs. I don’t think it’s a big concern for the squad. It’s not a big concern for me because with the staff we have, as I’ve said several times, it isn’t a big deal. But, you know, I’m gonna have to live with it for a couple of weeks, maybe more than that. But hey – that’s why I get that big money.”
Paterno admitted on Saturday that this was the first time in his career where he felt his health was significantly affecting his life on a week-to-week basis.
But it hasn’t made him start thinking about retirement.
“No, it really hasn’t,” said Paterno, who laughed a bit and started to say something else before effectively cutting himself off. “Ah, I don’t know. It hasn’t, let me just leave it at that. It really hasn’t.”
As it turned out, the main topic of conversation around the No. 6 Nittany Lions this week is legs.
That would include Paterno’s, as well as the hamstrings of Jordan Norwood and A.J. Wallace, as well as the ankles of tight ends Mickey Shuler and Andrew Quarless.
Wallace’s lingering hamstring issues have finally cleared up for the time being, leading to him taking over the starting job at corner from Lydell Sargeant.
Both Norwood and Paterno said Tuesday that the senior receiver will play against Wisconsin this weekend, barring any setbacks in practice.
Norwood had tweaked the hamstring the Monday before the Illinois game and has sat out the past two weeks despite suiting up against the Illini and Purdue.
“It’s been tough,” Norwood said. “I think ‘going nuts’ is the right phrase to use. But it was probably in my best interest not to play. I’m ready to play this week and I’m glad it looks like it’s gonna happen.”
Things are less clear when it comes to the status of the two tight ends.
Shuler had sprained an ankle against Temple two weeks ago, with Quarless replacing him against the Illini and Boilermakers. Shuler played sparingly on Saturday and Quarless also injured an ankle late in the game.
“Norwood’s going to be OK. Quarless and Mickey didn’t do much, but it was only Monday,” Paterno said. “I think I’ll know more after (Tuesday). But they both tried to do a couple things (Monday) and I told them just take it easy, don’t overdo it. But there’s no question Norwood will be OK, unless something happens this week.”
Redshirt freshman Andrew Szczerba would see the majority of the reps if both are unable to play, with Greg Miskinis backing him up.
Former Penn State cornerback Willie Harriott was found not guilty of driving with a suspended license because of a lack of evidence, according to a report in the Centre Daily Times.
Harriott was removed from the team for a violation of team rules in early September after being cited in the early morning hours of Sept. 4.
The New Haven, Conn., native had his license suspended after being charged with DUI in November 2007. He was also given a citation for underage drinking in August of that year.