Paterno, Lions All Business Now

With game week at hand, Penn State has turned its focus squarely to Rose Bowl opponent USC. The time for having fun in LA is over, and the coach is making sure his players know it.

LOS ANGELES -- Saturday may have been Saturday for the rest of the world. But for the Penn State football team, Saturday was actually Monday.

The Nittany Lions are in Los Angeles preparing for their New Year's Day showdown with USC in the Rose Bowl. As is their custom, they are treating the six days leading up to their bowl appearance as a typical game week.

In the regular season, five days before a game is a Monday. And since Saturday began the five-day countdown to the Rose Bowl, Penn State viewed it as a Monday.

Senior safety Mark Rubin tackled the tricky topic during a press conference at the Los Angeles Downtown Marriott Sunday.

“Right now, I know that it is Tuesday of the game week,” Rubin said. “I honestly don't know what normal day it is. That's how we are programmed. It's a game week. It's Tuesday. We have to get ready to play Saturday.”

The subject came up when several Penn State players were asked about teammates who had been busted down to the second team in the previous day's practice. The group included All-American center A.Q. Shipley, guard Rich Ohrnberger and All-American defensive end Aaron Maybin.

The demotions are believed to be temporary.

“Yesterday would have been our Monday, and that's when Joe really starts getting down [to business],” senior cornerback Lydell Sargeant said. “His attitude at practice was totally different than weeks past.”

Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said Paterno “wasn't happy with some things that were going on in practice and wanted to make a point.” But FOS has learned that in the cases of Shipley and Ohrnberger, at least, the demotions happened because they were late for a team breakfast.

From Rubin's perspective, Paterno's actions were justified.

“Joe does what he does for a reason,” Rubin said. “He's proved that it works. He's had success doing it. So if Coach Paterno thought that's what needed to be done, then that's what needed to be done. We all support his choice. We know the guys made a mistake but they're still great leaders for us and they'll bounce right back.”

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