Media Day Recap

Last Saturday was media day for the football team and Joe Paterno held a press conference. It was classic Joe Paterno. He entered the room in a grumpy mood, looked at David Jones and said, "How have you been? I haven't felt anything in my back lately." to a chorus of laughter from the writers in the room. The transcript doesn't do the audio justice. I wish they wouldn't edit the transcripts and just let Paterno be Paterno with his stutters and mind slips. Anyway, let's go over some of the highlights of the presser. This may be a bit long so I apologize in advance.

Please talk about the loss of Tony Hunt and Austin Scott being the probable starter.

Why do you say probable starting running back? That's a lousy question. We have Austin Scott, Rodney Kinlaw, Evan Royster, and a couple of freshman kids that are all in the running. Sure we are going to miss a good guy like Hunt, but Scott's worked hard, and some people forget about how well he played two years ago against Florida St., in a tough situation. We're not their yet, but that's why we're going to play. I think we have the chance to replace Tony. Tony was a really good back, but we've got to do that with other good backs. I just didn't like the tone of your question.

This question set Paterno in a foul mood right from the beginning for whatever reason. His answer was kind of bizarre. At first he's suggesting Scott doesn't have the position locked down and then he goes into talking up his performance in the Orange Bowl. Then he turns it into a nobody-can-replace-Tony-Hunt answer followed by a rebuke of the reporter.

Relax, Joe. He probably called Scott the probable starter because he has the most experience of all the running backs on the team. His last game he ran for over 100 yards against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Who else on the team can compare to that? He didn't call Scott the starter. He called him the "probable" starter meaning it is in question. He agrees with you essentially.

But I suspect there is more at work here. Remember I speak fluent Paternese. Joe was using the question to motivate someone. Maybe he doesn't want Austin getting too comfortable. Maybe he's trying to encourage the younger guys. Only Joe knows. But I suspect we'll see number 33 carrying the ball on the first series against FIU.

Any decision regarding suspensions? The status of (Anthony) Scirrotto and (Chris) Baker?

Do you know what is going to happen to Scirrotto and Baker? You know just as much as I do. Until that whole thing settles down, I can sit back and take a look at what has and what hasn't and so forth, I'm just going to play it by ear right now. And I realize there might come a time tomorrow, next week, two weeks from now that I'm going to have to sit down and say, `Hey, something has to be done.' But as of now, everybody is in limbo.

This was the question directly following the Austin Scott question so you can sense Paterno is already wishing this press conference was over. He already has all the information he needs on the fight situation. He's already decided the stadium cleaning punishment was necessary. But here he says he's playing it by ear? What we're seeing here is Joe stonewalling. He doesn't want to talk about Scirrotto and Baker or the fight. So he's spinning it around to tell the writer he doesn't know what he's talking about. I still think Scirrotto and Baker don't play against FIU, they sit out the first quarters against Notre Dame and Buffalo, and then they are back to being starters (provided Baker can claim a spot).

Detail how the Coastal Carolina series came about.

I don't like the tone of that question either (laughter). Are we playing Coastal Carolina? I haven't got the slightest idea. Somebody said to me `What are you playing Syracuse for?' Five, six, eight years ago people said, `When are you going to put Syracuse back on the schedule, they were 10-2?' Paul Pasqualoni was coaching up there. Somebody said to me, `Where's Arkansas State?' I said, `All I know is that Arkansas State is on four or five teams' schedules.' Alabama and other people. When we went to 12 games, all of a sudden you have to look around for a 12th game. We have to have seven home games, not for football, we have to have seven home games to make enough money to support the sports that football supports.

This is the David Jones question, so you knew Joe was going to give him a hard time. Nobody should believe Paterno has no idea who they are playing. He is involved in every aspect of the program. Jones smells bullshit and asks a followup.

You had nothing to do with the Coastal Carolina game?

They may say something to me, and say, `Hey, we're having trouble getting a game here, or a game there, we're supposed to get this club here, this club backed out, this guy did that.' I say, `Hey look, you guys do what you've got to do that is best, based on we have to have seven home games, and who will play us.' If I didn't like it, they would reconsider. We're fine. Let's get on with something, we're playing in 2007, and that's all I'm worried about.

More stonewalling. Joe doesn't know how the scheduling gets done. Yeah right.

There was a funny moment in there where the transcript doesn't do it justice. Paterno's last sentence actually went, "Let's get on with something, we're playing in nineteen...is it nineteen? We're playing in 2007 and that's all I'm worried about."

What's the team captain situation?

I go around the block on that, you can point a finger at me on that on that one, because I've vacillated back and forth. I'm just not sure what's quite best for this football team.

This bothers me. The fact there are no clear candidates for captain tell me this team lacks leadership. If so they may just end up going through the motions.

Are you 100 percent physically? Are you looking forward to getting back on the sideline?

I think I'm 100 percent. I'm not as fast as I used to be. But when I was 18, there was not a girl that was quick enough for me. But no, I'm fine, I've enjoyed practice. Today is the first day we are doing two a days. We went this morning for an hour and 45 minutes, and we'll go for another couple hours. We will see how I'll hold up after that. I thought from day one that if I can get through two a days, I will be fine. Because one a days have been a snap for me.

Good news. Nothing here to add.

Is anyone injured or not practicing? Have you gotten a read on the true freshmen or junior college transfers?

Well, we had an injury yesterday that really bothered me. We had a good, young kid by the name of (Devon) Still. He hurt his ACL yesterday, and I'm pretty sure he's out for the year. That was a real setback, but other than that, that was the only one we've had so far. (Tom) McEowen, who we had lost, has worked hard, he's still not ready to go yet, but it looks like he's got shot, but other than that we seem to be okay. Phillip Taylor got bumped up a little bit and had to lose some time, but the one that's really hurt is Still. Still is a really big-league prospect.

It's a shame about Still. He was one of the true freshmen with a chance to see the field. The injury to Taylor is a bit scary. I'm hearing something about his knee or calf is injured but it isn't serious. He's going to rest it a few days and should be ok. If it's a nagging injury like Jim Shaw had last year we could be in trouble given Baker's situation.

When you hear about criticism of Jay Paterno, does that bother you?

You guys think that you write something and all of the sudden I'm bothered. I don't read it. I hate to tell you that, I don't have e-mail, I don't have a cell phone, I went through all this business about text message and I thought it was t-e-c-h. My wife had to tell me, `Joe, it's not tech, it's text.' I don't know what you guys are talking about. I go do my job my business. I'm assuming that Jay and all my coaches understand that you're in a business where you're going to get criticized.

Nobody works a room like Joe Paterno. Laugh off the criticism, tell a funny joke, tell the writer you don't read his drivel.

How hard is it for coaches to hang around for a long time with all of the changes in the media with criticism of coaches?

You guys think I'm that smart, and I'm going to tell you what will happen ten years from now. Seriously, I can't tell you what I'm going to do tomorrow. I don't know. I don't mean to be a smart alec. I don't know. I would doubt if anybody would coach as long as Bobby or I have coached, particually at one institution. So, there might be some other people can do it. But, it's not something I think about. If I told you `Yeah, the way I figure it out is so and so can do this, and so and so can do that.' I don't have time for it. I go to bed at night with a pad, trying to figure out how I can get a guy to stay low coming out of a stance. So I don't know. I would hope eventually the whole thing that we are going through will settle down a little bit. Where it won't be, people want to make five million dollars, three million dollars coaching, I mean it would kind of settle down eventually, because that is the way most things have gone in life. It goes like this (motions up) and comes down a little bit, and you go along. And I would hope this would happen in my profession. I would hope that my profession would get some people in it, who are committed to their institutions, and want to, and the institutions all of a sudden wake up and realize that their athletic programs are a very important part of it. But it's got to be in sync with the rest of the philosophy and goals of the university and go from there. I think that there will be some reaction. We've got boosters, and everyone else telling, `He didn't recruit this kid. You've got to get rid of him. So and so got this kid and we didn't get that kid, even though somebody didn't recruit that kid.' There are two or three kids that we didn't even recruit, but we've got, I've got, and again I don't have email, but at least that guy had to spend 35 cents to write the letter and send it to him. I mean if he spends 35 cents it's important to him. But, `Tell me why didn't you get this kid for us?' I try to be decent about it. I write letters. `We just didn't think he was quite quick' enough, or I give him some gobblety goop, to make him feel good.

Great look at Joe's philosophy there. Can someone tell Joe a stamp costs 39 cents now?

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