Big Ten Media Days Notes 2

Get the latest on Paterno and Twitter, Koroma and Wallace, Lee and his position, and more as we report in from the second day of the action in Chicago.

CHICAGO -- During his press conference at Big Ten Media Days here Monday, Penn State coach Joe Paterno broke up the room when he replied to a question about the Nittany Lions' strength of schedule.

Implying fans always have some reason to complain, he said they “have got to put something on those things -- what do you guys call those things, Twittle-do, Twittle-dee?”

PSU quarterback Daryll Clark was not in the room for the comment, but caught it later on ESPN.

“It was hilarious, man,” Clark said. “That's Joe for you. I don't think he even owns a computer.”

The 82-year-old coach seems to take a certain measure of pride in the fact that he has not been consumed by technology, and has repeatedly stated he does not have a cell phone and does not use e-mail.

But to suggest he has turned a blind eye to those tools and more -- including the online social messaging utility Twitter -- would be wrong.

Speaking with a small group of reporters at the roundtable portion of Big Ten Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Tuesday morning, Paterno admitted he does know what Twitter is about.

“My coaches are all involved with it,” he said. “… We're in the process of trying to develop new ways of communicating, particularly in the recruiting area, and doing it legally, because a lot of the things they've outlawed -- [like] telephone calls at certain times of the year -- I imagine this could replace it.”

Paterno said the NCAA's decision to include text messaging in recruiting contact restrictions is also forcing programs to try to find new (and legal) ways to get word to prospects.

“You know you can't stop progress,” he said. “What are you gonna do? I'd love to stand up here and say let's go back to writing letters.”

Clark is a frequent “Tweeter,” as users of Twitter are called. He'd enjoy seeing Paterno Tweet a bit.

“I would love it,” Clark said. “I'd want to know what he'd put. … 'I don't know why I'm on this thing. This is crazy.' ”

Koroma Update

Also Monday, Paterno said he doubted redshirt junior Abe Koroma would be back for the 2009 season. He gave a bit more information Tuesday.

“We're gonna lose Koroma,” Paterno said. “He's gonna drop out [of school] for a year. … It's a personal decision.”

Paterno took the occasion of discussing Koroma to praise returning starter Ollie Ogbu, saying Ogbu “is first string and a pretty good football player.” He also said veteran tackle Tom McEowen is now healthy and will probably see more time in Koroma's absence.

Asked if redshirt freshman Brandon Ware might help at the position, Paterno said, “A little bit, if he'd lose some weight.”

Wallace Update

In yet more follow-up news from Monday, after saying there was “some question” whether senior cornerback A.J. Wallace would be back in '09, Paterno gave more details Tuesday. He also painted a more positive picture for Wallace.

“He still has not completed a course from the first semester of summer school,” Paterno said. “I told him until he gets that thing done, I won't have him out.

“I think he'll get that done,” Paterno added. “He has to get that done this week and I think he'll be alright.”

Arms Race

Paterno continued to beat himself up over Clark's late development. In his first year as a starter in 2008, Clark led the team to an 11-2 record and league title, and was named first-team All-Big Ten. He spent the previous two seasons behind Anthony Morelli.

“Morelli did not quite have the confidence in himself that I felt he needed and I thought he would develop,” Paterno said. “I was nervous [about] all of a sudden if you stick [Clark] in there, even for a couple of series.”

The implication was that pulling Morelli in favor of Clark would have destroyed the former's confidence.

“Looking back, I probably just should have told Anthony, 'Look, you have to compete, we've got to give Clark a shot at it, too,' ” Paterno said.

Inside or Out?

With the start of preseason practice closing fast, the staff has yet to decide whether to play senior captain Sean Lee at inside our outside linebacker. Lee was poised to make a move inside for the 2008 season but sustained an ACL injury in the spring of last year and was forced to redshirt.

Now he's back. But where will he play?

“When we came out of spring practice, it was in the back of my head that we were going to play Lee inside,” Paterno said. “Then I started to look at some people we're going to play and I started second-guessing myself. We have to make some decisions this week as to where we are going to play some people.”

Current senior Josh Hull played inside in place of Lee last year. Paterno said Hull is a natural inside linebacker, meaning he'll likely be moved to a reserve role if Lee plays inside. Navorro Bowman is a lock to start at one outside spot.

So the decision the staff must make appears to be: put Lee inside, with Hull moving to second-team and sophomore Mike Mauti taking over an OLB spot; or keep Hull as the starting MLB, and have Lee take over an outside position.

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