LOS ANGELES — A day later and Penn State still didn’t have a ton of answers.
Not for exactly what went wrong in that nightmarish 24-0 second quarter against USC that sunk the Nittany Lions’ hopes for a Rose Bowl upset by halftime. Not for the health of several injured players and not for the future status of a player like Aaron Maybin.
Maybin, the redshirt sophomore defensive end who exploded onto the scene for Penn State in September, said after Thursday’s loss he would make a decision on staying in college or jumping to the NFL “in a few days.”
Coach Joe Paterno said Friday that with the bowl game preparation he hadn’t yet discussed the possibility with Maybin or any other player.
From his tone, though, Paterno didn’t sound terribly optimistic that Maybin would be returning to the Lions for the 2009 season.
“Oh, I don’t care,” Paterno said. “Maybin’s gotta do what he wants to do. I mean, there may be one or two (players thinking about going pro who) pop up, I don’t know. I knew about Maybin and I knew of a couple of the other kids tried to get some information as to where they are (from the NFL draft advisory committee). I don’t know.”
It’s worth noting that Paterno used a similar phrase to “he’s gotta do what he wants to do” to describe the decision of quarterback Pat Devlin, who abruptly transferred out of the program shortly before Penn State left for California.
Fellow defensive linemen Maurice Evans and Jared Odrick both put in paperwork to the draft committee to see where they might be projected to go, but neither player has given a timeframe for a decision like Maybin has.
It’s not exactly an uncommon process for Paterno to have underclassmen consider leaving early.
“If somebody comes to me within the next week or two and says, ‘Hey, I think I want to go,’ I’ll call a couple of friends of mine in the league and say, ‘Where do you think they’re going to go?’ so I can be honest with them,” Paterno said. “I mean, I think if a kid’s going to be a No. 1 draft pick, then I think at this stage, obviously, he’s got a tough decision to make.”
Paterno said things weren’t any clearer about the health of tackle Dennis Landolt and tailbacks Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, all of whom were injured against the Trojans.
The extent of their injuries won’t be fully known until they get back home to the east this weekend to be examined in-depth by team doctors – though Green is believed to have just a sprained ankle.
Until then, Paterno said he wasn’t sure if any of them would be affected long-term, headed into spring practice or beyond.
“I don’t know yet. The docs, they’ve gotta get a chance to look at them, do some X-rays and MRIs or whatever the devil it is and all that stuff,” he said. “But right now, it doesn’t appear that anybody’s really out of it.”
As for Paterno himself, he said his ability to travel in this final month and change of the recruiting season will likely be limited. Paterno was put on a blood thinner after his hip replacement surgery and doctors are concerned about blood clots stemming from multiple plane trips.
ABC reported that Paterno skipped a scheduled interview with the network for Thursday’s game and that Penn State’s locker room wasn’t open following the game per BCS regulations.
Both actions could conceivably draw him fines, but Paterno said he wasn’t concerned.
“I haven’t got the slightest idea, and to be honest, I don’t care,” he said. “I just think there’s a limit to how much you can expose your football team to, and if I just give in all the time, I don’t know whether I’m the head coach.”
Though he still has yet to mention him by name, Paterno again referred to true freshman quarterback Matt McGloin – a walk-on from West Scranton High School – on Friday.
“We have a really good kid, he’s a walk-on kid from Scranton that I really like that played on the scout team,” Paterno said. “We’ll have to work with him in the spring and see how far he can come.”
Paterno mentioned him during preseason practices as a player that had caught his eye, and it seems likely that the former Invader will be the Lions’ third-string quarterback in 2009 behind Daryll Clark and incoming freshman Kevin Newsome, possibly earning a scholarship in the process.