On the teams 1st practice in Miami:
Weve been off since the previous Thursday. We try to use the first day back to focus on stretching and getting back in the swing of things with no pads. We follow the same procedure that weve followed for the last 20 years.
On the coaching matchup:
I was thinking about it this morning, I am exhibition B, Joe is exhibition A, thats all we are. Theres a game in there somewhere, Penn State and Florida State are playing the game.
Its very meaningful. We played in 1990 (at the Blockbuster Bowl) and when I was at West Virginia we played every year and they dominated us. Its amazing that it happened and I do enjoy the fact that that hes going to be on the other sideline.
On the teams confidence:
After winning a ballgame over a team that a two touchdown favorite (Virginia Tech), you can imagine how much confidence you gain. As you lose, you begin to lose confidence. You can win 15 games in a row and then lose one, and then you start to wonder. It was a big boost for us as far as confidence is concerned.
The three losses we had at the end of the year, it wasnt because our attitude wasnt good, our attitude has been good all year. We had good practices leading up to the (ACC Championship) game, weve had good practices leading up to this game, but even with all that (Penn State) are still heavy favorites.
On Penn States offense:
The biggest change in Penn State over the last few years has been their offense. Their offense now is so explosive compared to the past and a lot of that begins with their quarterback (Michael Robinson). He can take a busted play and do more with it than anybody weve faced. We played a quarterback at Virginia Tech (Marcus Vick) who was the same way and we were able to hem him up. I dont know if we want to hem him up, he may run you over like a bull if you try that. It scares you more than anything else, but theyre a very solid offensive football team. Whats hes needed the past few years is someone who can break open a game and now he has that.
I think our (defenses) speed with match up with anybody. We have very good team speed. Penn State is more powerful and theyre quicker than (Virginia Tech), in my opinion.
On the mood in Tallahassee after three straight losses:
Once you get over the rope burns, it wasnt bad. Its been a very questionable mood outside of our staff. We had so many good years back to back that people expect it all the time. We have lacked consistency for the last few years. I think the hardest part of my job is winning enough games to keep people happy.
On what he remembers about the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl:
I remember our horse running out on the field and Joe got mad about that. I know we had to get special permission to do it and we did. I dont know if Joe knew we got it or not, but he was mad. I thought he was going to go tackle the dadgum horse. I was about to tell him go high dont go low on the horse. That was about the maddest Ive ever seen Joe. I didnt anything to him though. I was afraid hed slap me.
On age as an issue:
Ive always used Joe as a gauge. We both like working with kids and we both think that we can help them on and off the field. We both have reached the age which when the first time something goes wrong, they say hes too old. I think Penn State did the right thing staying with him and his experience and maturity.
Its one of those things Ive had to deal with for the last 15 years. It all started with those two scoundrels, Tommy and Terry Bowden. They started it. Every kid I recruit now, I feel like Im going to coach the whole time hes there and I tell them that. When I dont feel that way anymore, Ill have to let them know.
JOE PATERNO MORNING PRESS CONFERENCE
Keith Russell, ABC 6, Philadelphia
Q: Last year in the midst of a disappointing season, the critics came from everywhere, your current and past players spoke up for you, yet you never really lashed out. What gave you the strength to deal with all the criticism?
A: I think the players did. I knew we had a pretty good football team a year ago. We lost a lot of tough games, played good, solid defense and the kids stayed with us. We could have made some plays on offense and a lot of people dont realize that we lost both our quarterbacks in the first quarter against Wisconsin. We never really got quite settled, but the kids like each other, believed what we were talking about and they stayed with us. The biggest thing I had to do last year was keep my coaches. I have a great staff and Im getting a lot of honors but it wouldnt be had it not been for the staff. I felt if we can keep them together and then recruit a couple kids that could make a couple of plays, we would be fine. It worked out that way.
Q: I know you said too many people are making a big deal about the coaching match up, but at this point in your career whats it like to be matched up with Bobby Bowden on a national stage like this?
A: I dont even think about that. You guys are going to have to figure that out for a little hype. I dont think about that, I just look at the people. If Bobby can run as fast as his wideouts, Ill be shocked. They just have one heck of a football team. Early on they struggled, but when you look at them against Virginia Tech you see what they are capable of doing, thats the only thing Im looking at. This is a big game for both teams and they are going to go out there and hopefully play as well as they can play and whoever plays the better game wins the game. Its not about Bowden and Paterno.
Q: Coach Bowden was saying earlier how he was impressed with the speed on your team but what about the speed on Florida State?
A: Well, I dont think theres anybody that we have played that has as much overall speed as Florida State. I think we have some good speed in some spots and have had for a couple of years. Sometimes you talk about all the wideouts or you talk about the defensive backs, skill people and those kinds of things. But their down guys are so quick. Im just as concerned with whether we can handle their down people as I am about anything else. And the linebackers; they have a lot of kids in there that dont get a lot of ink. Number seven (7) is one heck of a football player, as is No. 34 and No. 54. I just think they have great overall speed.
I didnt look at some of their earlier games because I didnt want to look at them when they were struggling and while their quarterback developed but I have looked at some of their older games, even the Florida game, and they have great speed.
Bob Viscount, Johnstown, PA
Q: Florida States defense presented big problems for Marcus Vick in the ACC Championship game. Are you nervous about the problems they can present to Michael Robinson?
A: Sure Im concerned about the problems their defense can present. They have great depth and hopefully it wont be a hot night because we havent necessarily played eight guys, but they play eight guys. They have great speed on defense and I am concerned about that. If I were to go through the pecking order of what Im concerned about, I would have to mention, and I forgot to mention this when I was talking about speed, but their kick returner and punt returner are great. So, yes, Im concerned and I think they are a heck of a football team. Its hard to believe theyve lost some games, but you have to remember how young they are. A lot of the guys that made mistakes early, didnt make those mistakes against Virginia Tech. If they dont make them against us, its going to be a long, long night.
Q: How possible was it to keep you coaching staff together after last season?
A: I dont think that I made one single gesture to keep them all together. I think a couple of themactually, three of them had chances to leaveand all three of them were good opportunities. But I think they felt, as I did, that we had a good bunch of kids and that we had worked hard in recruiting and probably were close to some kids and if we could all stay together we could make this a pretty good team. And I think that was a challenge that they wanted.
I dont think I made any deliberate effort to keep them other than to let them know that I was going to be around. We joined hands and everybody said lets go to work.
Bob Thomas, Florida Times Union
Q: How much has the perception changed of southern football versus eastern/Big Ten football? Or how much has it remained?
A: I think whats happened is that in the old days before some of the teams up north built indoor facilities you couldnt throw the ball year round, kids could go inside and throw the football. That was not really a viable option when youre talking about being competitive with the southern teams because they could be outside all day, all year. But once we started to build indoor facilities up north and people like Joe Tillick got in the league and the spread and that kind of stuff. When he came in from Wyoming they told him you cant do that in the Big Ten, you cant spread it out and throw the football in the Big Ten. And he said, what, do you figure its 80 degrees in Wyoming? I think that changed the whole attitude of some of the things up north and I dont think theres a lot of difference between the southern t! eams and the northern teams anymore. There may be between a couple of teams in Florida and maybe LSU but most of the teams are fairly even and the quality of speed is close. If you look at the Ohio State kids and some of the other kids in the Big Ten, they can run. Whether theres as much overall team speed at all the positions, thats debatable. Florida State just has speed all over the place.
Ron Cook, Pittsburgh
Q: Coach Bowden spoke about finding a purpose in life and finding that next big event after retirement, how often do you think about that?
A: I probably would think about that if my grandkids would leave me alone. Every time I start to sit on my sofa and start to think when Im going to die, some nine-year-old kid comes in and starts to ask me when are you going to do this? They grow up very quickly. In fact, the other night we were watching a game and one of my six-year-old grandkids came over, watched the game with me and he critiqued the game with me. Its amazing what television has done to these kids. I have never really given thought to it, to be honest. Im healthy, I feel good. Im not looking to retire, I like coaching, Im having a lot of fun and hopefully I can do it for a while.
Keith Russell, ABC 6, Philadelphia
Q: In your 40 years as the head coach at Penn State, whats the single greatest difference between you now and when you first started?
A: You see the thing about Penn State. When Rip Engle got the job, he coached me in college, I havent even coached. I started to coach spring practice before I had even graduated. So, I went back up to Brown and finished up my final exams, the senior paper and the whole bit. I was the only guy Rip brought. That was the whole agreement he had with the university. And when I took over, I only hired one guy to replace me, a coach by the name of Bob Phillips. He was a great high school coach who was a great friend of mine and has since passed away. So, I had a bunch of guys that put up with me for a bunch of years. I had all the answers. I didnt do a very good job my first year even though we had a football team. I had my hands on everything. I dont do that anymore, I cant do it physically. You give up some of the hands-on aspect and you! give out a little more responsibility to the people on your staff. I think thats the biggest difference.
You have to learn to pace yourself and learn what you do well. What I do well is I can critique a practice, I can say, I dont like what were doing, I can sit there and go through an offensive game plan, or a defensive game plan. I still coach a little bit on the field, but in the old days, I had to coach every position.
Tom DAngelo, Palm Beach Post
Q: What do you remember most about the 1967 Gator Bowl? Was that a springboard for Penn State becoming what they have become?
A: We had a good team in 67, lost to a couple of good football teams. Then we beat North Carolina State up at our place with a goal line stand and that got us in the Gator Bowl. Best thing I remember about the Gator Bowl is that we were up 14-0 then I went for it on fourth-and-one and didnt make it in our own territory. And they came and in and I remember Bill Peterson, who had a heck of a staff. They went for the field goal to tie us instead of going for the win. I remember those things and then I also remember getting back on the bus, coming back and telling those kids: Okay, next year is going to be our year because I knew we had a good team and I had not done as good a job as I should have.
I remember more of the Blockbuster Bowl when Florida State beat us and Terrell Buckley ran the kickoff back, or punt back from the five-yard line. We had him trapped and he gave up 15 yards just to get around kid, I could and to this day, every time I see him I tell him, you let him get around you.
Bob Flounders, The Patriot in Harrisburg
Q: What is Derrick Williams status for the bowl game?
A: Derrick Williams is worth a touchdown but I doubt really if hell play. He wants to play, hes out there running around but the doctors are concerned because he had a very severe broken arm and they are very concerned that if we did something with him there could be nerve damage. So, I dont think its worth the kids future, he has a great future so I doubt he will play.
Greg Stoda, Palm Beach Post
A: Well, Bob and I have been good friends for a long time and Ann (Bowden) and Sue (Paterno) are good friends. We go on a trip with the Nike people every year, spend four or five days together and we sit around and talk a little bit. I have picked his brains about some of the things hes done and hes picked mineI dont know if theyre worth pickingbut he and I have talked. I think Bobby and I are pretty much on the same page, I shouldnt speak for him, but if you get that concerned with criticism you cant do the job.
I have a son who has a very prominent spot on our staff, he works with the quarterbacks. Jeff Bowden is in a very prominent spot. I now my kid is a good coach, and Bob knows that his kid is a very good coach. I tell him, let them talk. They have to write something. We cant control talk, we cant control talk shows, email.
Bobby and I have the same feelings about that, and I again I shouldnt speak for him, but our talks are in generality: family, loyalty and those sort of things.
Q: Coach Bowden spoke of the 90 Blockbuster Bowl and about you getting upset about Chief Osceola and his horse coming out on the field, why were you so upset?
A: Oh that darn horse. Is he going to be on the field? I ought to make Bobby ride him. Well, when I first started to coach we played Army, and Army used to have a mule and that thing would go up and down the sideline. You know, they are not housetrained and neither are horses. And I stepped in something that the mule dropped. Well, I told the president, were not going to let that mule on the field anymore.
Q: What does the record number of wins mean to you?
A: No, all the wins have never meant anything to me. Thats for other people. If Bobby Bowden wins 50 more games than I do, I wouldnt care. Hes a great guy, a great coach. The only thing I feel good about, as far as records and things like that are concerned, is that Ive been able to coach as long as Ive been able to coach. How many guys can coach as long as Ive been coaching? Be healthy enough to be able to get it done and still enjoy it? Still feeling good about getting up in the morning with the challenge of playing a Florida State team, which is a great football team.
Q: Other than yourself, who do you consider the greatest coach in college football?
A: Please dont do that to me, I have too many buddies. I respect a whole mess of them. Years and years ago, I made a statement, I said something about someone and Jim pulled me aside and said, hey Joe, what you give to one, you take away from somebody else. I try, and people are always asking me, whos the greatest runningback you ever coached? I just bite my lip and remember what Joe told me.
Q: How are you and Bobby Bowden alike?
A: Well, I think commitment and loyalty. Bobby had made a great commitment to Florida State, made Florida State what it is. You go back to when we played them back in 1967 Florida State was just starting to be something.
Q: Coach Bowden talked about his fathers influence on him becoming a football coach. What was your fathers influence?
A: My father played a little bit of football but he was more of a boxer. My dad was a little different, obviously I dont know Bobbys dad, but my dad was a guy that dropped out of high school to join the Army. He was in Europe with Persia, he was in Mexico chasing Pancho Villa. He came back finished up high school, finished up college at night and eventually finished up law school. He passed the bar when he was about 37 or 38 and I was 10 or 11 years old. He had two jobs the whole bit, and everything with him was education. Football was something that he never discouraged. I grew up with a lot of kids that were good athletes. I grew up with Joey Lombardi, who was Vince Lombardis kid brother. The Torres lived in the next Parrish from me. So I got involved because a lot o! f other kids were involved.
That got me started. When I did decide to coach, he said to me, whatever you do, have an impact on something. I have tried to have a little impact on Penn State.
He died in 55, so I dont know what he might say. He might say I wasted my time, I dont know.
Marcus Nelson, Palm Beach Post
Q: How did the recruiting of Dan Marino go?
A: We had recruited a kid by the name of Frank Rocco the year before. Frank Rocco, and his kid brother Danny, just got be the head coach at Liberty. We had recruited Frank, who was the most sought-after kid in the east the year before. And when Dan Marino came out, we never even got Danny a visit. I went to go see him and he said, coach you have Rocco, and I am not going to beat out Rocco. Thats the recruiting goes, so I never got a shot at him. And hes a great player, great family, the whole bit.
Q: Coach Bowden said when he retires he is probably going to have to get a job somewhere, maybe on a golf course. Whats your dream job after football?
A: My wife and I have talked a little bit about that and I think, like Bobby and Ann, were not very flashy. Somehow, and Im not sure how I would do it, I would really like to take over a group of kids in an inner city school, kind of mentor them and create a different atmosphere than what I see in inner city schools. I would use some resources that we have and Sue is a natural teacher, she tutors kids for me all the time, tutors guys on the squad. I think that is what I would like to do because I would hate to get out of the peoples business.
But, unlike coach Bowden, I dont want to cut grass.
Q: How have you paced your practices since being down here?
A: Well, I think we came to early. Im a little nervous because this is the longest weve ever been at a bowl site, especially trying to work around the Christmas holiday. I am a little concerned about that and we have not had good practices the last two days. We had good practices at Delray Beach. Were still a little bit tired and Im trying to get our practice schedule shifting a little bit since weve been practicing in the middle of the day. Im a little concerned, today is Monday of a game week, and hopefully well have a little bit more balance than weve had. We wont be far off, but we are not right where I would like to be. Bowl games are like that. One day you think youre doing pretty well, another day youre not sure doing so well.
Q: Whats been the attitude of the squad, being a lot of them are in a prominent position for the first time?
A: I dont think that is a problem. There is real good leadership on this team and I havent had a curfew for the last five days. I told them, you guys go out, but you better show up the next morning and I dont want anybody getting in trouble. Theyve been great but we are going to start to tie it down a little bit by practicing earlier. I feel good about the team, Ive asked them to do, they have done.
Mike Berardino, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Q: How much has Tamba Halis background shaped who he is today and how do you sympathize with that situation where he hasnt seen his mother in so long?
A: I think anyone would want to see their mother and Tamba is a very warm, wonderful kid and his father is a teacher. When we recruited Tamba, he had very long hair, and I never said a word to him when we were recruiting him. We started getting a bunch of guys on the squad that started to look a little (sloppy). I held a meeting and I said, I want everybody to get their hair cut except Tamba. When we recruited Tamba we never said a word to him, so I wasnt going to have him play by different rules. The next meeting I had, the first guy that got his hair cut was Tamba, even though I told him not to get it cut. And that made everything easier for me. And that doesnt mean that cutting your hair makes you better. Its just an example that Tamba wanted to be a member of the team and hes just a great kid.
Now, what his background had to do with him being a great person? I dont know. I think hes a kid, like the kid from Boston College, Mathias Kiwanuka, and they were talking about him. And sometimes we dont realize that the kids who dont have everything that other kids have, have a little more empathy for the needs of other people because they have lacked some things in their lives and have had someone help them at the right time or someone stroked them at the right time. And from that, has grown feelings from other people.
FLORIDA STATE PRE-PRACTICE QUOTES
Willie Reid – WR
On the Penn State defense:
Theyre a real talented group, real strong and physical upfront and very quick on the edges. It should be a tough challenge for our offense.
On playing any defenses similar to Penn States:
They are ranked so high in every category and we havent really seen a defense that good.
On how much confidence the Virginia Tech win gave them:
We lost a couple of games and I think our confidence level dropped a little bit, but we came back on the field and played a great game and our confidence is sky high right now.
On playing in a game featuring the two winningest coaches in college football:
We want to get coach Bowden a win because its probably the only time they will be coaching against each other again. He wants to go out with a win and we want to give it to him.
Lorenzo Booker – RB
On their team speed matching up against Penn State:
They played Ohio State, who has very good team speed and they did pretty well against them. Weve been looking at that game a lot. Ohio State turned the ball over; I think thats going to be the key factor because Penn State doesnt make a lot of mistakes.
On how much confidence the Virginia Tech win gave them:
It just proved to us that we are as good as we always thought we were. We learned all we have to do is worry about our job and our assignments.
On questioning themselves during their losing streak:
Anyone that goes on a losing streak questions whats going on because they are not winning, so obviously there is something youre not doing right. We went through that and you learn more from a loss than a victory.
On winning the game for coach Bowden:
This is a game that could possibly never happen again. You have to coach a long time to get as many victories as these two guys have. At coach Bowdens age you never know what hes going to do on any given day and you never know which game is going to be his last so I want to be a part of the team that sends him packing as a happy man.
Brodrick Bunkley – DT
Comparing Michael Robinson to Marcus Vick:
Hes fast and he can run you over and we have to work on containing him.
On winning the game for coach Bowden:
Its JoePa verse Bobby Bowden. It doesnt get much bigger than that.
Bobby Bowden – Head coach
On A.J. Nicholsons suspension:
He will not play in this game and has been sent home for violating team rules.
Kevin Steele – Executive Head Coach/Linebackers Coach
On adjusting the line up without Nicholson: