Florida's Meyer leaves, Penn State's Paterno stays
TAMPA, Fla. -- One coach is leaving, the other is staying.
But not many people could have predicted it would be Florida's Urban Meyer working his final game on the sideline Saturday in the Outback Bowl rather than Penn State's Joe Paterno.
Meyer is 46, Paterno 84.
Meyer has won 64 games and two national championships in six years at Florida. Paterno has captured 401 wins and two national titles in 45 seasons with the Nittany Lions.
Health has been a major topic of conversation for both coaches.
Meyer resigned earlier this month due to health concerns and family reasons and will be replaced by former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
"Not many people have that opportunity to step away and give back to the people that have given so much to us," Meyer said Tuesday during a joint news conference for both coaches. "The people are [my] kids. They deserve to have their dad go watch the games and be around."
Meanwhile, Paterno said rumors that the game Saturday between the two 7-5 teams at Raymond James Stadium would be the final one of his Hall of Fame career are "ridiculous."
He said he feels "great," reiterating what his wife, Sue, said Monday, and he said he plans to return for the final year of his contract in 2011.
"I'm different than Urban," Paterno said. "I've got people calling up saying, 'When the hell are you getting out?' " Paterno said, chuckling. "I've got a whole different slant on it. People think I'm going to quit this year or next year.
"I, honest to goodness, have not thought of it. ... I don't see any reason for getting out of it yet."
Paterno said he is "very sad" to see Meyer leave the coaching profession.
"I think Urban's been one of the great innovators with some of the things they've done on the field," Paterno said. "My son, Jay, worships the guy. I keep telling him, `Hey, your old man's a head coach, too, you know.' "
Much like his immediate family, Paterno has grown weary of the nasty Internet rumors that have been following him around for quite some time.
"We had a big problem in State College last week," he said. "Somebody said that I was down at Hershey Hospital when I was chewing out somebody for being late for a meeting. It's ridiculous."
Meyer, who likely will move onto a job at ESPN, jokingly said Tuesday that he has "put in my application for graduate assistant at Penn State." He said he has a great amount of respect for Paterno and his program.
"I've known coach Paterno longer than he's known me," Meyer said. "I was one of those guys that knew I wanted to be a football coach. I was going to play football as long as I could and coach as long as I could. I had pictures of [Tom] Osborne and those great coaches of that era. I just had great admiration for the way they ran programs. I was very blessed.
"Obviously, coach Paterno is at the top of the list."
Meyer's Gators will be without four starters who are recovering from injuries -- cornerback Janoris Jenkins (shoulder), right tackle Maurice Hurt (knee) and defensive tackles Terron Sanders (shoulder) and Lawrence Marsh (hip).
"I think we're going to have a good football game," Paterno said. "We're a little better right now than we've been at anytime this year. We seem to know a little bit more of what we're doing."
NOTES -- Paterno said he has not yet discussed a transfer with third-string quarterback Kevin Newsome, who did not make the trip. ... Paterno offered to help defensive coordinator Tom Bradley pursue the head coaching job at Temple, but Bradley declined his offer despite interviewing with the Owls. "It's easier for me if he stays," Paterno said of Bradley. "But I don't want to get to the point where I'm interfering with someone who might want to get in on another program." Linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden also interviewed for the Temple job that went to Steve Addazio, Florida's offensive coordinator and associate head coach. ... Quarterback John Brantley is uncertain whether he will stay at Florida.
First Published December 29, 2010 12:39 am