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Hip surgery for Paterno called success

With a 49-18 rout of Michigan State, coach Joe Paterno won his third Big Ten title at Penn State. Under Paterno, the Lions also won league titles in 1994 and 2005.

AP photo

Penn State coach Joe Paterno underwent successful hip replacement surgery on Sunday at Mount Nittany Medical Center, according to the school’s athletic department.

Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletic medicine, performed the procedure and reported that all objectives were accomplished and that Paterno was resting comfortably on Sunday night, anxious to return home.

Paterno, who turns 82 next month, is expected to be on his feet as soon as today and resume his normal coaching duties next week.

Penn State players and coaches said Saturday that Paterno had given the team the entire week off to head home for Thanksgiving, with the team reassembling in the evening on Nov. 30.

It was the coach’s second major surgery in two years, as he also had an operation in November 2006 after breaking his leg and tearing ligaments in his left knee. Sunday’s operation was on his right hip, which was reportedly injured when Paterno performed an onside kick during a drill in practice early this season.

He also made a brief trip to the hospital this summer to be treated for dehydration, though he was released after only a few hours.

Paterno said multiple times during the weekend that he fully plans to return to coach again in 2009 despite the surgery and his contract expiring at the end of this season.

“I’m planning on coming back, yeah,” Paterno said Saturday. “I never planned otherwise. Everyone’s making a big deal that I don’t have a contract signed. I’ve never even asked to do that. I’ll sit down some time in the next couple weeks with (athletic director) Tim Curley, President (Graham) Spanier, and say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this, what do you think of that, what are we going to do,’ and that kind of thing.”

Paterno had said earlier this month that he was looking to have the surgery as soon as possible to have the most time to recover before the bowl game. Waiting until after the season, he said, would reduce the time he could spend recruiting in January and February.

The Nittany Lions captured their third Big Ten title in program history on Saturday, beating Michigan State 49-18 to finish the regular season 11-1 overall and 7-1 in conference play.

With the win, Penn State clinched a bid in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif. The Lions will most likely play the Pac-10 champion in that game, with Oregon State, USC and Oregon as possible opponents.

Despite the win, Penn State remained at No. 8 in the latest BCS rankings, released Sunday night. Though the Lions jumped two spots to No. 6 in both human polls, they continue to lag behind in the computer average.

Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, USC, Utah and Texas Tech, respectively, are the seven teams ahead of Penn State.

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