Paterno rebounding from a health scare


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Joe Paterno shrugged off his recent health scare last night, saying it was nothing serious.

"I'm doing great," Penn State's 81-year-old College Hall of Fame football coach said prior to being honored during a dinner at the Duquesne Club.

Eight days ago, Paterno was transported to a State College hospital after complaining of nausea, weakness and fatigue. He underwent a series of tests and was eventually treated for dehydration and sent home.

"I've never been to the hospital except to get a hernia fixed up and for my knee when I got it scoped," he said. "I just felt lousy. [My wife] Sue said, 'Are you OK. I said, 'Nah, I don't feel too good. I gotta sit down.'

"So she called the doctor, and the first thing you know the doctor's over there, and they take me to the hospital and give me all kinds of tests."

Paterno, who contracted the flu shortly after the Alamo Bowl and spent a few weeks shaking it off in January, is surprised there's so much interest in his health, both locally and nationally.

"There's got to be better things on people's mind than how I feel," he said. "All the problems we've got, I'm more concerned about the price of oil and I think other people should be, too, rather than worrying about my health."

Paterno is entering his 43rd season as the Nittany Lions' coach. His contract will expire after this year. President Graham Spanier said Paterno will not get another contract, even if he does coach a year or two after the 2008 season.

Paterno prefers not to look past this season.

"I've got a good football team and I'm anxious to see what we can do with it," he said. "I'm excited about it. I'd hate to walk away from it right now because I think they can be pretty darn good and I want to be part of it.

"It's hard to explain what it's like to be on the sideline of a good, tough football team. ... I don't call all the plays as I used to do. I just follow the flow of the game. I know what's going on. I can turn the tide a little every once in a while by making a call here, or saying, 'Do this, do that.' "

Paterno said he's disappointed that BCS officials last month rejected a plan that would have determined the national champion through a four-team playoff system, starting in 2010.

"I've always been for a playoff," he said.

Paterno is not hopeful it will happen in the near future.

"To be frank with you, I don't know what the reasons are for not having a playoff," he said. "They can talk about missing class and all that kind of stuff, but you see basketball go on forever, and there are a lot of bogus excuses."

Paterno hopes the Penguins and Flyers can some day stage an NHL game at Beaver Stadium.

"As an old hockey fan, I'd like it," he said. "I think it would be great."

Paterno, however, is not interested in resuming Penn State's in-state rivalry with Pitt -- a series that has been in hibernation since 2000.

"I think it would be nice to play Pitt," Paterno said. "But if we had had the Big East Conference that I tried to get -- what do you want me to do? I thought it would have been great, but Pitt didn't want to get into the Big East Conference except for basketball in those days.

"We had to look around and we got hooked up with the Big Ten. ... What happened happened, and that's where we are."


Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@post-gazette.com .


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