After dramatic arrival, press box-bound Paterno plays bit part
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Joe Paterno takes in the game from the coaches' box yesterday at Beaver Stadium.
Click photo for larger image.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Joe Paterno's arrival at Beaver Stadium was more dramatic than the game he came to watch.
Paterno received a police escort to the stadium and arrived about 10 minutes before kickoff. Penn State had set up a tent to shield Paterno from fans and media, and he was hustled from his wheelchair to an elevator that ushered him up to the press box.
Scott Paterno, one of Paterno's sons, chastised reporters for watching Paterno's arrival at the stadium.
For many of the fans who gathered to watch, that was the most exciting part of the day. Penn State's 17-13 victory against Michigan State in the regular-season finale certainly did not provide many high points.
Once he was in the coaches' box, Paterno watched the game without headsets. ESPN television cameras zeroed in on Paterno throughout the game. He was mostly calm, peering through the glass window with his chin resting on his hand. On a few occasions, he showed some emotion.
When Anthony Morelli misfired on a pass midway through the second quarter, he put his head in his hands. After the final play of the first half, a pass to running back Tony Hunt that lost 6 yards, Paterno was wagging his finger at someone in the box.
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno and offensive line coach Dick Anderson coach the game from the press box. Linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden also is in the box. The coaches said Paterno occasionally offered some suggestions.
"Joe had some observations, saw some things," Hall said. "He passed them on to us, and they worked. It was good to have him up there."
"That's what they were saying on the sidelines, too," quipped defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who was sitting next to Hall at the postgame news conference. "It was good to have him up there."
All joking aside, Hall said Paterno's observations helped.
"He was very much involved in the game after he got started," Hall said. "He suggested a couple of plays to us that we used late in the game. We got some valuable yardage. We just couldn't put them away. We needed to take some time off the clock. He was very much involved."
After the game ended, Paterno left for home. He did not see the players before or after the game. He left it to the coaches to address the team afterward. He did not speak with reporters, either.
"We talked to him upstairs," Hall said. "We congratulated him, and he said the same thing back. He said to tell the players very good win and way to hang in there. He was very much in the game and was very happy with the outcome."
Paterno, 79, is recovering from Nov. 5 surgery for a fractured shin bone and torn knee ligaments. He was injured on the sidelines in the Nov. 4 loss at Wisconsin when two players barreled into him.
His doctors made him watch the game against Temple from his home last week after a five-day stay in the hospital. He attended practices last week and did his radio show. It is not known at this time if he will be able to attend Penn State's bowl game. With the victory against the Spartans, the Lions will play in a New Year's Day bowl game, likely the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli said airplane travel for the coach during his recovery could be risky because of the possibility of blood clots. Paterno will miss his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in early December for that reason.
His recovery, however, could be going well enough by late December that Sebastianelli would allow him to make the trip.
First Published November 19, 2006 12:00 am