Paterno expects postseason leg-hip surgery

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Penn State coach Joe Paterno said last night that his aching right hip and leg will require surgery.

"When we're going do it, I'm not sure yet right now," Paterno said on "Nittany Lion Hotline," his weekly radio call in-show. "Whether we do it right after the season is over or whether we wait a little bit, I don't know."

Paterno, who will turn 82 Dec. 21, met with university doctors Wednesday morning. He had tests and X-rays taken on his leg and hip, which have been bothering him since he injured himself trying an onside kick three days before the season opener Aug. 30 against Coastal Carolina.

Paterno has been reluctant to specify his injury.

"What I have is not something that can't be fixed," he said. "And it's going to be fixed."

Paterno has been relegated to working from the coaches' booth the past four games and had spent the second half of the Temple game there earlier this season. He has been walking with the aid of a cane the past few weeks and has been monitoring practice from a golf cart for more than a month.

No. 3 Penn State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) is idle this week before returning to action Nov. 8 at Iowa.

Paterno said he doesn't want his injuries to become a distraction for the Nittany Lions, who are off to their best start since 1999. A win against the Hawkeyes next weekend would give them their best start since 1994, when they finished 12-0, beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl and finished second in the polls.

"We're not going to let this thing interfere with my doing the job I have to do for this football team and for this football program and a great coaching staff," Paterno said.

He reiterated that he wants to have surgery in time to get back out on the road recruiting for next season. However, Penn State president Graham Spanier said earlier this week that he and athletic director Tim Curley plan to meet with Paterno after the season to discuss the Hall of Fame coach's future. Paterno's contract expires after the 2008 season.

"We love JoePa," said right guard Stefen Wisniewski from Central Catholic High School. "If he wants to coach next year that's great. I realize there's been a lot of talk recently about him being toward the end of his coaching career.

"Obviously, he's still doing well, he's still succeeding."

Paterno is the winningest coach in Division I-A history with a record of 381-125-3.

During his 43 seasons as the Lions' coach, there have been 818 coaching changes in major-college football, an average of six per school.

NOTES -- Paterno said quarterback Daryll Clark, who was knocked out of the Ohio State game last weekend with a mild concussion, did not practice Wednesday and had "another test" yesterday. Paterno said "Clark's going to be fine" to play against Iowa. ... According to the NCAA Graduation Rates Report, Penn State's four-year success rate of 78 percent is tied for No. 2 among the teams ranked in the Oct. 26 Associated Press Top 25 poll and exceeded the 67 percent average for Division I schools. The Lions are tied for second place with North Carolina, trailing first-place Texas Tech by one point. Penn State finished second to Northwestern among Big Ten teams in all three football graduation categories.


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