TAMPA, Fla. — Joe Paterno says rumors regarding his future will not affect the way Penn State approaches recruiting.
The 84-year-old coach expects to return for a 46th season leading the Nittany Lions and said Sunday that he and his staff have targeted a number of prospects they believe could help the program.
Speaking the morning after Penn State’s 37-24 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl, Paterno said he hasn’t received any questions about his future from recruits considering the Nittany Lions.
Paterno also said he’s never believed a player should base his decision to sign with Penn State on football alone.
“I don’t get the question. They may ask the assistant coaches, I don’t know, but I just tell them: ‘Hey, what you’re looking at is what you’re going to get.’ The program is going to be here,” Paterno said.
“Nobody can predict what (will happen). Would you have predicted what happened at Pitt?” he added, referring to the Panthers dismissing newly hired coach Mike Haywood because of an arrest on a domestic violence charge. “There’s no guarantee on anything, but I intend to be here, and I intend to work hard at recruiting.”
Paterno has repeatedly said he has no plans to retire. He is under contract through the 2011 season.
The Nittany Lions (7-6) finished with their worst record since they went 4-7 in 2004, however the legendary coach feels the team improved as the season progressed and is on the right track.
“I thought we had our moments where I was disappointed we didn’t play a little better, but other times kids came back, snapped back and stayed with it. It was, in a lot of ways, a very rewarding season,” Paterno said.
“It’s a young club. A couple kids had to play that weren’t quite ready to play, but they hung in there for us. … I’d like two, three more wins, but that’s the way it goes.”
Asked Sunday if Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley or President Graham Spanier had talked to him about a possible succession plan, the coach responded with an emphatic “no.”
He said the topic doesn’t come up with potential recruits, either.
“I’m tell them, ‘Right now I’m planning to be here. And if not, hopefully, you’ll take a look at the program. This is the way it is, and this is the way it’s going to be. Hopefully you pick a school for the right reasons, and it may not be Penn State,’ ” Paterno said.
“I’ve never told a kid there’s only one school, I wouldn’t do that. Heck, I’ve got five kids of my own and none of them pay any attention to me.”