Bradley Staying the Course

The man with the interim tag focuses on the here and now while waiting to see if he is named Joe Paterno's replacement at Penn State.

When Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley sat before reporters for his pre-TicketCity Bowl news conference Monday morning, it was in the same corner of Holuba Hall where Joe Paterno met with the media before this season.

There is still no word as to whether Bradley will be replacing his former boss in other places, and in much more significant ways. He interviewed for the job last Friday, but has no idea when Paterno's permanent successor might be named.

Bradley, part of the staff for 33 years (most recently as the defensive coordinator), said the painstaking pace of the search has not affected his approach to the job, or that of his assistants. He did admit that it had impacted recruiting “a little bit.”

But in the main, he said, the entire staff has done “a great job.”

“They're here for the players,” he said. “It's all about the team. … They'll continue to do a great job until the day when they tell us we're no longer wanted -- if that's the case.”

So, business as usual. At least to a point.

Then there is the matter of Saturday's locker-room fight between wide receiver Curtis Drake and starting quarterback Matt McGloin, an incident that resulted in McGloin being hospitalized briefly after suffering a seizure and a concussion. Bradley, who first called it “an activity in the locker room” and later “an unfortunate incident,” said internal discipline would be meted out, though the school's office of student affairs will also be involved.

“We'll let the process take its course,” he said, “like it would with any other student.”

McGloin, who also met with reporters Monday, said he takes “full responsibility” for the altercation, which according to the QB occurred when he and Drake disagreed over the execution of a play in practice. McGloin later apologized to the staff and his teammates, according to Bradley.

Bradley has also spoken with Drake, who was not available to the media Monday. Nor did he practice, as he underwent X-rays on a hand injury that occurred during the season.

“They're both disappointed in themselves,” Bradley said. “It carried over into the locker room, and it shouldn't have.”

Bradley, like most of the players who were on hand Monday, said fights are not uncommon between teammates. What made this one different was that someone -- significantly, the starting QB -- was knocked out. McGloin and Bradley both said that occurred when McGloin hit his head as he was wrestled to the floor.

Bradley said he was “very alarmed” when he first learned of the incident, and concerned most about McGloin's health. The QB did not practice Monday, and must pass a concussion test before he is allowed to resume drills. It is not yet clear whether he will be available for the bowl game between PSU (9-3) and Houston (12-1), a noon start on Jan. 2.

Nor can Bradley name his starting quarterback for that game at this point. His other option is Rob Bolden, who was cited Friday for retail theft at Pollock Dining Commons.

Bradley called that “a prank that went awry,” and said Bolden would also be subject to internal discipline.

It is possible that another QB, Paul Jones, will be available for the bowl game. While Jones has been academically ineligible all season, Bradley said he has made progress in the classroom, and could be reinstated now that the end of the fall semester has arrived. But could Jones actually play in the game if the need arose?

“I don't think you can say that,” Bradley said. Jones practiced only with the scout team in Monday's open session.

While the coach has yet to receive a complete academic report, he indicated that other players are likely to miss the game against the Cougars.

Prior to Monday's drills, the Lions had had three “great practices” for the bowl, Bradley said. They will continue their bowl preparations through Wednesday at noon, then break for Christmas. All the players must be in Dallas by next Monday at 7 p.m.

By then, there might be more clarity about the coaching situation. Bradley said he was “excited” about the opportunity to sit down for an interview last Friday, and added that when he goes on the road to recruit, he talks up all the positive aspects of the program and university -- things that will never change, in his estimation, no matter who the head coach is.

Several potential recruits, Bradley said, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude about Penn State, until a coach is named. He understands that, and said he even encourages them to visit other places, to “keep their options open until they see what happens here.”

While things are on hold on that front, the current team keeps plowing ahead.

“Even if they had no coaches, they'd go out and do the best they could to win the game,” Bradley said. “They may do better without us, who knows?”

Bradley also said he has not spoken to Paterno since Nov. 10, the day after he was fired. He does ask Jay Paterno, the team's quarterbacks coach, how his did is faring in his battle with cancer, but other than that, he respectfully keeps his distance.

As Bradley said, “I know what he's going to say: 'Tom, you're wasting your time. You've got things to do.' … All he wants me to do is (say,) 'Hey, let's do the best we can for the players.' ”


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