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JoePa discusses succession, Bradley to Pitt, recruiting and QBs at post-bowl press conference
January 2, 2011 - Cory Giger
TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Paterno emphatically stated there is no coaching succession plan in place at Penn State, and he also talked Sunday morning about how he believes Tom Bradley should be a candidate for the Pitt job and that he second guesses himself for not playing backup quarterback Rob Bolden more late in the season and in the Outback Bowl.
JoePa held his annual morning-after-the-bowl press conference and, as always, was candid about many pertinent topics.
* A reporter was asking a lengthy question about whether there is a potential succession plan, and Paterno twice said "no" while the reporter was talking. Then JoePa, as the question ended, stated loudly and bluntly, "No." So clearly he has no plans to go anywhere or to turn over any of his control.
* JoePa said defensive coordinator Tom Bradley should be a "very, very strong candidate" for the Pitt job and noted "he certainly deserves consideration." He went on to say, "Tommy's done a good job. He's a good recruiter, good coach, organized. If they ask me, I'll tell 'em I think Tommy's a fine coach and should be a very, very prominent person as a possibility. He has strong contacts in the city of Pittsburgh."
(NOTE: Bradley expressed interest in the position after Dave Wannstedt was fired last month but did not receive an interview. Still, during Outback Bowl preparations last week, Bradley didn't hide his affection for Pitt, where his father played basketball. "Pitt is a great university," Bradley, 54, said. "They've got great people and great leadership in Chancellor [Mark] Nordenberg, and [Athletic Director] Steve Pederson's done a great job." Bradley, who also tried to get involved in the Pitt job when Walt Harris was hired in 1996, did not respond to messages left Sunday.)
* Pitt AD Steve Pederson is in hot water now after how things played out with Michael Haywood, who was hired and then fired after a domestic abuse charge came up. Without specifically referencing Pederson or the Pitt situation, Paterno said an AD can fire one football coach, but if he has to fire two, then he probably will get fired.
* Paterno said you can never predict what's going to happen in college football. "Would you have predicted what happened at Pitt?" he said.
* Paterno said if he had it to do over again, he probably would have played Bolden some in the Outback Bowl and late in the regular season. Matt McGloin threw five interceptions -- most ever by a PSU quarterback -- and while quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said the coaches considered making a change, Bolden never even so much as warmed up on the sideline.
* Paterno actually praised McGloin, as he did after the game: "Under the situation and where we were, I thought he did a good job." He did add that he was "not jumping for joy" about the interceptions.
* "Don't know yet," JoePa said when asked if there will be an open quarterback competition next season. "I don't know what I'm gonna do," he added, until he looks at more tapes. "Every year is different. Every situation is different," he said.
* Paterno said he spent last week talking on the phone with recruits. The Lions have had a tough time with the 2011 class so far, and JoePa said, "We need about three players that are hanging out that are good players. Whether we have a shot at them, we'll see."
* The coach was asked if recruits ever bring up his age or future during recruiting. "I don't get the question," he said before adding that maybe some of the assistants are asked that.
* JoePa said he tells recruits, "What you're looking at is what you get. The program is gonna be here."
* JoePa said he never sleeps after a game, win or lose, because he's always replaying the game in his mind and second guessing himself.
* He called Florida "very aggressive" Saturday and said it was the most aggressive he'd seen the Gators this season.
* He was asked about Derek Moye and said the receivers had a good season.
* JoePa called it a "rewarding season" but said there were disappointing moments and that he would have liked a few more wins. He mentioned the team "worked twice as hard in practice" because so many opponents could do so many things. "Overall it was a very rewarding year," he said.
* The coach would not disclose what cornerback Chaz Powell did to get in his doghouse to the point where he was benched Saturday. "He had a problem. I'd like to just leave it at that," he said.
* Powell did play a little, so he was academically eligible. Paterno said two players were not, although he would not disclose the names.
* JoePa said the team spent more time on the kicking game than ever before and was disappointed that Florida had a key blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. He compared it to the Iowa game last season in which a blocked punt for a TD helped the Hawkeyes rally to win. Paterno denied that having one person in charge as special teams coach would help. "I don't think that's a problem at all," he said.
* "[Saturday] was a good experience" for the players, said Paterno, who believes the team will be better off for it next season.
* Leadership was an issue early in the year -- "We started out the season not knowing where to go," JoePa said -- but the coach added the team "made progress" as the season progressed.
* Paterno said the team is not as deep as he wants it to be at certain positions, but he wouldn't discuss which positions. He didn't want to get into that because if he mentions certain units and not others, then other coaches could use that against PSU in recruiting.
* It was brought up that Paterno no longer tells kids that the next coach already is a member of the current staff, and JoePa wouldn't discuss it. The reporter was trying to talk to Paterno about the consistency on the coaching staff, but JoePa got defensive and said the reporter was just fishing for a story that isn't there.
* He said of Russ Rose, "We've got one of the greatest coaches that ever coached coaching our women's volleyball team."
* "I had five kids of my own, and none of them ever paid any attention to me," Paterno said.
* He said freshman quarterback Paul Jones had some academic problems in high school, so the decision was made to let him focus on academics his first year. "He's got ability," JoePa said. "Big kid, he can run, big, strong arm, and he's done everything you ask him to do."
* On Saturday's 37-24 loss to Florida, Paterno said, "I was pleased overall, except for the fact that we let it get off the hook."
* He was asked about Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State players who got into trouble. "I think Pryor is a pretty darn good kid," Paterno said before noting that his interactions with the quarterback were good.
* JoePa said he might have one or two juniors leave early for the NFL -- that seems unlikely, but the coach did say it -- and he had some interesting words about former PSU All-American Aaron Maybin. He said he was "shocked" Maybin left after his sophomore season and wondered if he would even get drafted. JoePa then talked about how Maybin was a first-round pick and got $15 million from the Buffalo Bills.
* JoePa was asked about how the team had so few sacks this season and said it's not defensive line coach Larry Johnson's fault.
* Paterno had a strange response when asked if he talks to his players about various rules, such as the ones broken by Pryor and others at Ohio State. He seemed out of touch, to a large degree, with his answer. "They can read," he said. "I've got other things to do. ... We give them a sheet of these are rules, and they sign it." He mentioned how you have to trust the players to make good decisions.
* Paterno was asked how he benefited from being named an assistant head coach under Rip Engle and denied that he ever got that title. He also said he made $20,000 a year when he was first named head coach in 1966, and that he also taught volleyball and swimming back in those days.
* JoePa said he doesn't want to name the next head coach, although he has said before he would like some input.
* This statement was up for interpretation: "We've made some arrangements with the staff in case something happens to me." Some took it as though there is a plan in place for how the coaches would divide up their responsibilities in case Paterno were to have a health situation arise. Others took it as he was talking about potential severance pay and looking out for the coaches' futures once Paterno retires.
* He was asked if he's disappointed in how the defense played this season and said, "I think we're not as good as we can be." He also said, "Some of those young guys, they're unsure of themselves." He mentioned how "there can't be any indecision" when you're playing a tough team.
* "This game we kept everybody health," Paterno said of Outback Bowl preparation.
* Backup running back Stephfon Green suffered an ankle injury during the game, and his status is unclear. Paterno said Green is injury prone and gets upset when he can't play.
* Paterno said safety Drew Astorino, who suffered a leg injury and sat out the second half, should be OK. He said Astorino just needs a break because he's been playing hurt for so long.
* Asked if safety Nick Sukay will be back for the spring after having surgery for a torn pectoral, JoePa said, "I hope so."
* JoePa plans to talk with defensive back Derrick Thomas about his grades. Thomas was suspended for most of the season for violating team rules.
* Paterno said McGloin loses concentration at times.
* Alabama beat Michigan State 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl. "That shocks me," said Paterno, noting he believes the Spartans are a good team.
* Paterno said he looked at the schedule in the preseason and knew his team would have a tough time at Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State. "We had a shot at Ohio State and got careless," JoePa said. He once again mentioned how both Ohio State and Michigan had a bye week before playing Penn State -- he has brought that up numerous times -- and said he was most disappointed in the Illinois game. "We were terrible," he said of that 33-13 loss.
* The 2011 schedule is difficult with the final three games at home against Nebraska and on the road at Ohio State and Wisconsin, but JoePa said he hasn't looked at the schedule.