For the first time in his 41 years as a head coach, Joe Paterno will not be in Beaver Stadium for a Penn State home game.
Paterno remains hospitalized at Mount Nittany Medical Center following surgery Sunday to repair a broken left shinbone and knee ligament tears. A statement from the university revealed Paterno summoned his coaching staff to his hospital room Thursday to discuss Saturday's game plan, then relayed his decision not to coach.
As much as I would like to see coach Paterno getting better and on the sidelines, he's making the right decision. The doctors are saying he has to keep the leg elevated to avoid blood clots, so that's what he should focus on. Football can be a glorious game, but no football game is worth risking your health.
Part of this can certainly be blamed on the doctor's orders, but part of it can also be attributed to Joe's modesty. Deep down I think he knows that being at the game, even in the press box, would have been a distraction to the team. He would be the focus of attention by the players, coaches, and television cameras. Joe would never have that. He has always deflected the spotlight when it shines on him. Here is what Paterno had to say to his coaches.
"If a game decision needs to be made beyond that, talk it out," Paterno told his assistants. "And if you can't agree, Tom [Bradley] will be the tiebreaker because he has been around the longest."
So for the first time Penn State fans will get a glimpse of what it's like to not have the thick-haired Italian with the Coke bottle glasses and the black Nike sneakers running out of the tunnel and stalking the sidelines. But once they kick the ball, I don't think we'll see much change. For though the legend is not present, the legacy will live on forever in the empire he built and we have come to know as Penn State football.