Will Joe Paterno Coach Saturday?

Penn State team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli says a final decision has yet to be made on whether the coach can attend the Nittany Lions' home game with Temple. If Paterno is cleared, however, he will not be allowed on the sideline.

Injured Penn State football coach Joe Paterno may not be able to attend Saturday's home game with Temple, according to the university's director of athletic medicine. The 79-year-old coach remained hospitalized Wednesday while recovering from surgery to repair a broken left leg and there is no set date for him to leave the facility.

“It could be tomorrow, it could be the next day, it could be three days from now,” Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli said. “I can't tell you. It is a matter of getting him anti-coagulated properly and getting the swelling out of his extremity.

“In order to keep him from doing things that he wants to do that he shouldn't be doing, the best place for him is the hospital,” the doctor added.

Paterno was injured in the third quarter of Saturday's road loss to Wisconsin when two players crashed into him following a short completion. He was taken from the field on a cart and then flown back to State College ahead of the team.

He was diagnosed with a fractured left tibia (shin) and two torn ligaments in his left knee. Sebastianelli repaired the injuries surgically Sunday. The break was just below the knee, and required the insertion of a metal plate and several screws. Paterno will not be allowed to bear weight on his leg for six weeks.

Sebastianelli said Paterno remains hospitalized to prevent against deep-vein thrombosis, which is commonly referred to as a blood clot, but added that the extended stay is not out of the norm.

“Most people who have this type of injury would stay in a hospital or a rehab facility for several weeks,” he explained.

If he is cleared to leave the hospital in time for Saturday's game, it still won't be a given that Paterno will attend the contest. He will not be allowed on the sideline for the rest of the regular season. Whether he is permitted to coach from the press box remains to be seen.

“It is in his best interest to keep his leg elevated all the time,” Sebastianelli said. “If we can make arrangements to get that done up in the press box, then I'll reconsider it. But I haven't made up my mind on that yet.”

Sebastianelli said that Paterno is in “excellent health” overall and has a very high threshold for pain. Earlier this season, a player ran over the coach in practice, breaking three of Paterno's ribs. “He never missed 10 seconds of practice,” Sebastianelli reported.

But that quality, along with a serious a stubborn streak, means Paterno may have to be protected from himself during his current recovery.

“I'm learning the art of negotiation,” Sebastianelli said with a smile. “He is a handful. He is someone who does not know anything except 1,000 percent effort.”

Barring complications, Paterno should be able to begin range-of-motion exercises eight to 10 days from now. Active muscle use can happen in roughly three weeks. But all of it will be done under close scrutiny.

“He is someone who I know needs to be watched very carefully, because it is the old adage, give him an inch and he'll take a yard,” Sebastianelli said. “It's gonna be interesting.”


Fight On State Top Stories