Nittany Notes: Cleared for Takeoff?

Joe Paterno will be at the Outback Bowl for Penn State's showdown with an SEC opponent. But how is the injured coach going to get to Tampa? Get the lowdown and some notes on Paterno's recovery in the latest edition of Nittany Notes.

There is still no specific date for when injured Penn State football coach Joe Paterno might walk again. But we have a pretty good idea of when he'll be able to fly.

Paterno, who was knocked down in a sideline collision during a Nov. 4 game at Wisconsin and had surgery to repair left knee and leg injuries the next day, will fly to Tampa with the rest of the coaching staff shortly before Christmas to continue preparations for the Outback Bowl. This according to a source close to the program.

Expect an announcement to that effect from the athletic department sometime next week.

Three days after Paterno's surgery, Penn State director of athletic medicine Wayne Sebastianelli said the coach would not be allowed to fly for an indefinite period because “plane travel in particular in a post-op patient is risky” due to potential blood clotting issues. But he did not say when the coach might be cleared for takeoff.

It appears as if the trip to Tampa will be it.

In the meantime, Paterno continues to rehabilitate his leg and manage the team from his home in State College, according to people close to the program. Assistant coaches drop by on occasion and the office staff sends material over twice a day.

Penn State's two official visitors this week, Devon Still and Richard Muldrow, will more than likely meet with the head coach at his home, as well.

Paterno is scheduled to be at all team practices conducted on campus. The Lions will have a series of sessions on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays over the next few weeks so they can spend most of their time during the week focusing on schoolwork and finals, and so the assistant coaches can hit the road recruiting.

Paterno is also scheduled to participate in a joint bowl press conference with the coach of the Nittany Lions' Outback opponent (which has yet to be determined) Dec. 7. The conference will be conducted via satellite, with Paterno doing his part from the Beaver Stadium media room.

The first player availability to talk about the bowl will likely be Dec. 12 or 13.

Just after Paterno's surgery, Sebastianelli said the coach was looking at at least six weeks of not bearing weight on his left leg. Observers say Paterno appears to be ahead of schedule and that once in a while the people caring for him have to hit him with “an official slow your [rear end] down.”


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