Recap Of Big Ten Football Media Day

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -- Joe Paterno called it a setback, that's all. After more than four decades as head coach at Penn State, his experiences are wide-ranging and varied, so being run over on the sideline and injured didn't deter him. Still doesn't.
At age 80, with a 16th grandchild on the way this fall, Paterno said Tuesday he's feeling swell and has no immediate plans to abdicate as he enters his 42nd season.
"I've been healthy and I'm healthy now," he said during the Big Ten's two-day media convention. "I got a little setback when I got run over in the ball game last year. ... It's kind of flattering that so many people are interested in what I'm going to do."
Paterno's right leg was broken and knee ligaments were torn when he was hit on the sideline during a game last November at Wisconsin. He was forced to miss a game and then had to coach the Outback Bowl in a coaching box above the field.
Being high above the action wasn't so bad, after all, he said. He slipped his coaches a couple of notes with suggestions and even had a cup of coffee, adding as a joke that he felt at times like a newspaper reporter because he was sitting and watching TV.
Now it's back to the sidelines.
"When I think I can't do the job that Penn State deserves as head coach, I'll start to think about getting out," he added. "People ask me about how long you going to go. I just thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing and being in this league."
The Big Ten has its legends like Paterno and veteran coaches like Michigan's Lloyd Carr, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Ohio State's Jim Tressel. And this season it features three new coaches: Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, Tim Brewster at Minnesota and Bill Lynch at Indiana.
Lynch replaces Terry Hoeppner, who died in June of complications from a brain tumor at age 59. It's the second time in a year a tragedy struck the league's coaching ranks. Northwestern coach Randy Walker died last June from an apparent heart attack.
Pat Fitzgerald, who replaced Walker, has talked with Lynch about the experience of trying to heal your football team.
"Pat has been a big help," Lynch said. "It's a unique situation. Terry Hoeppner and Randy Walker were great friends. That's the sad part of it, two guys who worked together for years at Miami (Ohio). And their families were close." Hoeppner had been an eulogist at Walker's memorial service.
Notes:@ Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State were picked 1-2-3 in a preseason poll of the media. Michigan RB Mike Hart got the nod as preseason offensive player of the year and Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis as defensive player. ... Carr didn't directly address a question on whether he was entering his final season with the Wolverines, or if there were any health issues concerning him. "To the best of my knowledge I'm healthy and I don't think there is anything to that. I think at some point we're going to all retire and there is always an appropriate time to speak to that issue," he said. ... New Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said the league is sticking with its vow to have the network included as part of expanded basic cable and not on a sports tier in the eight states that comprise the league. "We believe that's the right place for the network," Silverman said. Comcast, which has 5.7 million subscribers in those eight states, has argued the cost is too high. If an agreement is not reached with the cable operators, many fans could miss watching their favorite teams. ... Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany says the league has approved an across-the-board testing program for performance-enhancing drugs. He said 10 percent of the athletes would be tested. ... Delany said there is no immediate plan to expand to 12 teams and break the league into divisions or have a championship game in football.


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