TAMPA, Fla. -- Penn State athletic director Tim Curley had a simple answer Wednesday when asked if he expects Joe Paterno to return as coach in 2011.
"Yes," Curley said.
Curley and president Graham Spanier plan to meet with the 84-year-old Paterno in January. Paterno's three-year contract expires at the end of next season.
"Sometime after we get back, we'll meet," Curley said. "We don't have any planned time."
Paterno, who reiterated Tuesday that he plans to coach in 2011, is the all-time leader in bowl victories (24) and appearances (37).
Saturday his Nittany Lions will square off against Florida in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Urban Meyer's final game as the Gators' coach.
"We're going to focus on Florida, get back home, get a chance to visit, and then look forward to a great season next year," Curley said. "We got a great schedule, we got the new division setup in the conference. I think everybody is excited about that opportunity."
Penn State has just nine verbal commitments for its 2011 recruiting class. Curley says he doesn't believe the uncertainty surrounding Paterno's future is affecting the program.
"I think recruiting, as far as I can tell, is going well and continues to go well," Curley said. "At this point right now, I don't think it has any effect."
Freshman quarterback Paul Jones from Sto-Rox enrolled in school early in January, but he quickly encountered academic problems and is redshirting.
Jones was buried on the depth chart at No. 4, but now that sophomore Kevin Newsome has decided to transfer, Jones has moved up.
He remains behind starter Matt McGloin and freshman backup Rob Bolden, who started eight games, but Jones said he has no plans to transfer.
"It has been fun," he said of his first year. "It's been a good learning experience."
Jones also said he has made strides in improving his grades.
"I'm doing better," he said. "When I first got here, I was just 17, and I wasn't ready for it."
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall has been impressed, "It looks like he has all the tools and everything to be a very good quarterback for us."
Standout defensive end Anthony Zettel has made a verbal commitment for next season. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Zettel, from Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Mich., is rated the No. 65 prospect in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 3 prospect in the state. Zettel had 113 tackles as a senior, including seven sacks, and he forced four fumbles en route to earning Associated Press All-State honors. He chose Penn State over Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa.
Ron Musselman: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published December 30, 2010 5:00 AM