STATE COLLEGE — With his injured right hip continuing to bother him, Joe Paterno said Saturday he will likely have hip replacement surgery soon after next week’s regular-season finale against Michigan State.
But, the 81-year-old coach said he’s not considering retirement.
“Nah,” he said to wrap up his postgame press conference. “I haven’t even thought about it.”
Paterno has become increasingly hobbled as the season has progressed. He reportedly injured the hip while performing an onsides kick in practice early in the campaign.
He has used a golf cart and a cane to get around for the past two months and hasn’t coached a game from the sideline since a Sept. 27 home game against Illinois.
Even with the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line against the Spartans up next, Paterno is resigned to sitting up in the coaches booth again.
“I’d like to (be on the field), but I won’t,” Paterno said. “I can’t. I’m gonna have to get something done with (the hip) as soon as the Michigan State game is over. The next day, probably. ... Not for sure yet, but I’m gonna see if I can swing it, if that’s what I have to get.
“I probably have to get a hip replacement or something like that. ... The doc knows. He’s telling me to be ready for this and ready for that. I just wish we could talk about my football team instead of my leg.”
Paterno has said that doctors hadn’t examined him in-depth until Penn State’s open date two weeks ago. At that time, he wouldn’t go into specifics about his injury, only saying that he would likely have to get it fixed in the off season.
Saturday was the first time he mentioned having surgery in between the regular season and his team’s bowl game, which will almost certainly be on Jan. 1, regardless of the outcome of the Michigan State game.
Two of Paterno’s top assistants – defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and Jay Paterno, his son and quarterbacks coach – said Paterno hadn’t discussed his health with the staff.
“He kind of invokes the HIPAA law with me,” his son joked.
Deon Butler officially broke the all-time Penn State record for career receptions on Saturday, surpassing Bobby Engram’s mark of 167 catches.
The senior wideout had initially been credited with taking over first place last week against Iowa when an early stat sheet had him with four catches.
That was amended to three after the game, so Butler remained tied with Engram for another week.
He left no doubt about it against Indiana, hauling in five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, now giving him 172 for his career.