"I never sleep after a game, win or lose," he said Sunday morning, as he rehashed the year with a handful of reporters. "I sleep before the game. I figure there's nothing I can do then. But after a game you second-guess yourself. You play the game over: Why this? Why that? So I didn't get much sleep."
He appeared to be asleep at the switch as his quarterback, Matt McGloin, threw five interceptions against the Gators. There was never any action in the bullpen, never any hint that freshman Rob Bolden, the starter the first half of the year, would be inserted in place of McGloin, a redshirt sophomore. There was some discussion among the coaches to that effect, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said after the game, but no move in that direction.
Very early in Sunday's news conference, the elder Paterno said the following: "If I had to do it over again, I'd probably try to get Bolden in there a little bit, because I think Bolden's a good prospect. And I think he's probably a little discouraged. Other than that, I wouldn't second-guess us too much."
Asked if he meant in the bowl game specifically or the latter stages of the season, Paterno said, "I mean just the whole year."
Had he used the younger guy a little more, Paterno said, "At least Bolden would have been in a couple tough football games. That part of it bothers me, and that was my decision."
So that is obviously the first priority heading into spring practice -- finding the right QB for 2011. Bolden and McGloin are the two front-runners, but freshman Paul Jones, who redshirted this season, is also in the mix. And Paterno said Jones "has got some ability" and has "done the job academically" to date, a concern at the beginning of the fall.
But Bolden and McGloin have a head start on him.
First, Paterno said, "Everybody (on the coaching staff) has to spit out the fact that we got licked. Then we'll sit down and we'll talk a little bit."
Paterno said he was "very reluctant" to blame McGloin for all that went wrong Saturday. At the same time, he said the one-time walk-on "obviously loses his concentration every once in a while."
"Things start going real well for him," Paterno added, "(and) he gets a little careless. He's got to kind of tie that together a little bit. And I think we've got to give the other kid a little chance to compete against him. We'll see what happens."
Here are some other topics that arose Sunday:
- Paterno said there has been no push from the administration for him to form a line of succession -- no suggestion, for instance, that he name an associate head coach (and thus his heir apparent). There is, however, precedent for doing so at Penn State. Paterno himself was named to that position in 1965, Rip Engle's last year as head coach.
"Was I?" Paterno asked, when apprised of that. "Honest to God, I don't remember that."
In 2000, Paterno named offensive coordinator Fran Ganter his associate coach, and recalled telling Ganter, "If I get out of this pretty quick, I think you have as good a shot at the job as anybody."
"It didn't work out," Paterno said, "because I kept going."
And, he added, "I don't want to name a head coach. … I'm more interested in protecting the assistant coaches than anything else. I want to make sure there isn't somebody hanging out there that doesn't have a job, so we've made some arrangements for the staff in case something would happen to me."
- Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley "should be a very, very strong candidate" for Pitt's head-coaching job, Paterno said, which was left vacant when the recently hired Mike Haywood was fired in the wake of domestic-violence charges.
"Tommy's done a good job," Paterno said. "He's a good recruiter, a good coach. He's organized. He certainly deserves consideration."
Bradley was a finalist for the Temple job, which went to Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio. He also had interest in the Pitt opening, but never so much as received a call.
- Running back Stephfon Green (ankle) and safety Drew Astorino (shin) were both injured in Saturday's game.
Paterno called Green "injury-prone," and said he had planned to use him and Silas Redd more against the Gators. He also said Green is "a kid that likes to play, and gets angry if he's not playing."
Astorino, by contrast, "needs to just take a break for a while," Paterno said, "because he's been playing hurt."
Safety Nick Sukay is another player with "a history of injuries," in the head coach's words. He missed a sizable chunk of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, though Paterno said he is hoping he will be available for spring practice.
Then there's cornerback Chaz Powell, who played sparingly (and only on special teams) against Florida.
"He had a problem," Paterno said. "I'd like to just leave it at that."
- Paterno said that in general, the Lions had "a very rewarding season," despite their 7-6 finish.
"We had our moments where I was disappointed we didn't play a little better," he said, "but other times kids came back, snapped back. They stayed with us. … It was a young club. A couple kids had to play who weren't quite ready to play. But they hung in there, practiced hard. Sometimes we had to do things twice as hard in practice as we've done. … I'd like to have a few more wins, but that's the way it goes."