Spanier Critical of Story

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Penn State president Graham Spanier and football coach Joe Paterno shared the same stage at a massive Nittany Lion pep rally at the Miami Beach Convention Center Monday afternoon. Each addressed the blue and white throng, in town for PSU's Orange Bowl showdown with Florida State Tuesday.

Afterward, Spanier took exception to a recent report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that said on Nov. 21, 2004, he and athletic director Tim Curley asked Paterno to retire. The paper reported that the info had come from multiple unnamed sources.

Asked if the story was accurate, Spanier said, “No. It's out of context. Other than that, we have no further comment.”

True to his word, Spanier declined to answer more questions on the topic. However, after stepping away from a group of reporters to answer his cell phone — a perfect opportunity to make a clean getway — he finished his call and returned to answer other questions, including one on the enthusiasm of the large chunk of the Nittany Nation which made the trip south for the bowl game.

“I think we're going to have more Penn State fans at the game than Florida State fans,” he explained. “The level of enthusiasm is incredible. … The enthusiasm around this game is as great as I've ever seen.”

After a couple of more questions, Spanier said he had to hustle out of the building. He was heading up to the Orange Bowl Beach Bash in Hollywood Beach, an event Paterno pulled out of earlier in the day.

“I'm filling in for Coach there,” Spanier said.

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