Then it was up and at 'em to tackle another day, which included doodling a preliminary depth chart for 2006 and later a season-ending, 10 a.m. press conference at the hotel.
I didn't know we were going to have TV or I would have shaved, Paterno said between sips of tomato juice.
Anyone expecting the 79-year-old coach to make a surprise retirement announcement did not get it. After winning his 354th career game, Paterno is clearly looking forward to the challenge of reloading a program that stunned the college football world by going 11-1 in 2005 but loses 14 senior starters.
I'm anxious to stay with it, he said. I'm enjoying it. I don't see any reason to get out of it. I would if I stopped enjoying it.
The coach believes PSU can be a decent team in 2006 if I can keep the whole staff together, which is not going to be easy.
State could also lose two other junior starters -- All-American linebacker Paul Posluszny and offensive tackle Levi Brown -- to early entry into the NFL draft. Posluszny injured his knee late in Tuesday's game and will head to Pittsburgh to have an MRI conducted within the next couple of days. Paterno said the medical staff believes there is ligament damage but is not sure of the extent. The outcome of the MRI will obviously factor heavily into whatever decision Posluszny makes.
As for Brown, Paterno said, I haven't even talked to Levi.
One former starter who will return in 2006 is defensive tackle Ed Johnson, who was suspended from the university for the fall semester of 2005 for disciplinary reasons. Johnson will be back in school for the spring semester and will participate in spring practice.
Paterno has confidence in current sophomore quarterback Anthony Morelli, saying he will be fine. But he also stressed how great a loss the graduation of the 2005 Big Ten Offensive MVP Michael Robinson will be at the position.
Michael is one of the strongest leaders I've ever had, Paterno said, adding that the QB kept the team together through last spring's Arrowgate mess. The coach jokingly referred to the players involved as the archers.
From his standpoint, Paterno admitted he felt pressure to succeed in 2005 for many reasons. A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article said school president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley approached Paterno in November of 2004 and asked him to consider retirement.
While not mentioning Spanier or Curley, Paterno said he respected the fact that people at the university have jobs to do, but that he really felt the team was close to a turnaround at the time.
But I know how much pressure was on the entire program, Paterno said. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure we weren't missing a detail here or a detail there.
Speaking of details, Paterno said in the next few days he will take the NCAA-mandated college coaches recruiting test, then attend the American Football Coaches Association Convention in Dallas Jan. 8-10, then hit the road recruiting.
It'll probably be easier than last year, Paterno said of recruiting, and he again said the Lions have more verbal commitments than those from the 14 prospects who have made their decisions public.
He wrapped up his press conference by offering an olive branch to the media, with which his relationship has become strained the past several years, thanking those in attendance for showing such strong interest in the program.
And what did he do immediately after the press conference?
Once I get rid of you guys and all of the grandkids, I'm going to go get some sleep, Paterno said with a smile.
• Paterno said he is considering moving a player or two from offense to defense to help bolster a secondary that will be hit hard by graduation. Later, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said Lydell Sargeant may jump from wideout to DB.
• Bradley declined comment when asked if any school had been in touch with him about head coaching jobs. "I don't want to get into that one," he said. He took himself out of the running for the then-open Temple job in November.
• Paterno said he has not even thought about the prospect of redshirting junior tailback Austin Scott, who played well in place of injured starter Tony Hunt Tuesday. Hunt and Scott are both on the same eligibility timeline now.
• Bradley said Posluszny was begging the doctors to shoot him with painkillers so he could get back into the Orange Bowl. They declined. The linebacker also vowed to the doctors, "I'll be the fastest rehab you guys have ever seen." "He's going to drive them nut," Bradley said.
• Bradley also said that with the depth the team has at linebacker, he may consider using a 3-4 more often next season.