Paterno Talks Recruiting

Fresh off landing a top-10 class, the Nittany Lion coach explains why he is no longer hitting the road to lure prospects.

There was a reason Joe Paterno was the only conference coach not to appear on the Big Ten Network's Signing Day Special last week. Namely, he doesn't have much to say about the Nittany Lions' Class of 2010.

While most services rated Penn State's 20-man recruiting class as the best in the Big Ten and ranked it ninth nationally, Paterno declined to analyze the group when asked about it Wednesday.

“You guys get all wrapped up in that,” he said, referring to the media. “But I haven't got the slightest idea if we've got a good, bad or lousy class. I'll know when we see them.”

Though seven members of that class are already on campus as January enrollees, the coaching staff won't be able to work with them on a significant basis until spring practice starts late next month.

While he talked up his assistants for the job they did recruiting -- “I think we have a great staff … I don't think they get enough credit,” he said -- he took umbrage at the notion PSU has recruited successfully in spite of his lack of travel in recent years.

The 83-year-old has not made any recruiting trips the past two years and only traveled on a limited basis the two years before that.

“That getting out on the road [talk] is a little bit misrepresentative,” Paterno said. “I think if you can get out on the road and see every kid, that's fine. But there are very few people who do that.”

The Hall of Famer explained that when he goes to visit a recruit, it is nearly impossible to concentrate on the prospect, his family and his coach.

“I can't walk into a high school, I can't go into a town, where there aren't newspaper guys [covering the visit], which makes it illegal for me to be there,” he said. “I have to get it organized. We have alumni everywhere. I very rarely go into a high school where there isn't someone with a Pennsylvania background.

“It becomes an event, and that's not fair to some kids because I can't see them all,” he added. “We're looking at 40 or 50 kids.”

Since he does not travel to recruit any more, Paterno said he instead focuses on getting to know prospects when they visit campus.

“We've had kids we've gotten from a lot of different places,” he said. “When they come up, we have them at the house. We entertain them and they get to know me.”

Paterno realizes he could be used as a so-called “closer” with certain high-level prospects. But he does not want to do that.

“I'm not gonna get into that business where the last guy who talks to him gets him,” he said. “I don't want to do that. If that's the reason he comes to Penn State, that's not fair.”

In Paterno's view, that is not really an issue, anyway.

“I don't think we've ever lost a kid because I didn't get there,” he said.

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