Penn State coach Joe Paterno's arthritic right leg has slowed him down considerably, but it hasn't accelerated his plans beyond this season.
"It really hasn't," he said yesterday during his weekly conference-call news conference. "I don't know ... It hasn't. Let me just leave it at that."
Paterno, two months shy of his 82nd birthday, said it will be another game-time decision as to whether he will be on the sideline or in the coaches' box Saturday when No. 6 Penn State plays at Wisconsin.
"We'll see by the end of the week whether I feel like I can get on the sideline or coach upstairs," he said.
Paterno participated in the pregame drills for about 20 minutes before the game Saturday at Purdue, then headed for the elevator and the coaches' box.
He was moving slowly and in discomfort after the game. He used a lectern for support during his postgame news conference, where he first revealed his arthritic condition, and had to be helped to a waiting van afterward.
He was taken to the airport, where he boarded the university's private plane and was back home in State College before his team left West Lafayette, Ind.
Paterno also left ahead of his team after the Sept. 13 game at Syracuse, and he has been doing his past few Thursday radio call-in shows from home.
He injured his leg while trying an onside kick in practice three days before the Aug. 30 opener and has been taking it easy the past few weeks in practice, monitoring the Nittany Lions from a golf cart.
"He was there [Monday], doing the same thing he always does," quarterback Daryll Clark said. "The only thing he doesn't do is walk. If there's a problem at practice, he will address it."
Paterno said his leg feels good some days and not so good others.
"It's up and down," he said. "It's one of those things that I'm going to have for a while, so I just got to live with it."
Paterno, who also worked the second half of the Sept. 20 Temple game from the coaches' box with some of his assistants, said being upstairs has its pluses and minuses.
"Actually, as far as making a significant contribution on the strategy side and on the technical side, you're better off upstairs. You can see more," he said. "... But the disadvantage is you like to be on the field. You like being down there and get a feel for what's going on."
Paterno also misses running out of the tunnel with his team.
"I would be dishonest if I told you I didn't used to love to get out there and the crowd fired me up and the whole bit," he said. "But there's a lot worse things that can happen to you."
Two years ago, Paterno's left leg was shattered and two ligaments torn in a sideline collision at Wisconsin.
"I don't think it's changed my life in a dramatic way," Paterno said. "It's obviously made it a little more difficult for me to do some things I used to enjoy doing. But that wasn't a result of the broken leg. My knee is fine.
"Dr. [Wayne] Sebastianelli did a great job with that. I never have any problems with my left leg. It's my right leg. And that's because I tried to overdo some things. It was poor judgment on my side without consulting with some people about just how much I could put on that right leg.
"That part's changed me a little because I can't walk like I used to ... . I used to walk five, six miles, but I can't do that and still go out and go to practice a couple hours. It just wears down on me.
"But what I have can be fixed, so we'll work on it."
NOTES -- Wide receiver Jordan Norwood has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but is listed as probable for Saturday. "He should be OK unless something happens this week," Paterno said. ... Tight ends Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler are probable with ankle injuries. ... Penn State is one of just four teams in the country that has a 6-0 record and already is bowl-eligible.
Ron Musselman can be reached at email@example.com . First Published October 8, 2008 4:00 AM