Paterno says record unimportant

Joe Paterno says he is not focused on catching Florida State's Bobby Bowden for most all-time wins in Division 1-A. In fact, the 79-year-old Penn State coach says he doesn't even know how many wins he has, and he isn't sure how many Bowden has.

So much for the theory that Paterno won't retire until after Bowden steps down. At least, that's what Paterno is saying.

Paterno has 362 wins. Bowden has 366. How could Paterno not care?

``What does it prove?'' Paterno said. ``I feel comfortable with whatever success I have had. I don't have to be the guy that wins the most games.''

Paterno called Bowden a ``quality person'' and a ``guy that stands for so many things that I hope I stand for – loyalty to an institution and his impact on Florida State.''

Regarding the record, Paterno said: ``I don't even think about it. I couldn't even tell you how many wins he has or I have. I know you are going to say, `Hey, he's a big phony.' Honest to goodness, I don't and I don't care. I hope the good Lord keeps me healthy enough that I get a couple of more years under my belt and then I'll play with my grandkids.''

What keeps Paterno going?

``I don't know. I wish I could answer that,'' said Paterno, a Brown graduate who took over as Penn State's head coach in 1966.

``I thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing. I am excited about playing against a really good Tennessee team. I am excited about seeing whether we can take our kids there (Tampa) and play a really good game.''

Paterno said he doesn't have many hobbies. He doesn't fish. He doesn't play golf. He said he enjoys being around the players and putting a competitive team on the field.

``I am sure it is part ego, but it is fun and I am enjoying it,'' Paterno said.

POSLUSZNY FITS IN AT LINEBACKER U

Penn State's Paul Posluszny became the first Nittany Lions linebacker to became a two-time first-team All-American when he was honored by the AP earlier this week.

Posluszny injured his knee in the Orange Bowl against Florida State and wasn't as mobile as the year before. He moved from outside linebacker to the inside as Penn State changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4. It took time for Posluszny to adjust, but once he did, he became a terror on the field.

``He's a heck of a football player,'' Paterno said. ``He is a really good athlete, loves to play football and works at it. He hasn't been quite as spectacular this year, but he is a better football player this year than he was last year. … He is just a smart, tough, good football player who is a good athlete and knows the game. He knows how to play it and he is a delight to have on your team.''

For the second year in a row, Posluszny had over 100 tackles.

PATERNO SAYS HIS TEAM CAN RUN

The stereotype is that the SEC is faster than the Big Ten, the SEC is faster than most teams in the North.

But Paterno wasn't necessarily buying that.

``I have not felt that when we played the SEC teams that they were necessarily faster than we were,'' Paterno said. ``I think we have a team that can run.

``Good defensive teams line up properly. With all of the formations you have to play against these days, they anticipate certain things. They play a step faster than maybe they are because they recognize things, recognize formations, recognize tendencies.''

Penn State's defense ranks 11th in the nation against scoring (14.8), 16th in total defense (279.0 yards per game), 10th in run defense (87.8 yards) and 45 in pass defense (191.2 yards).

THOMPSON PREFERRED HOOPS TO FOOBALL

Former Austin-East star Leroy Thompson certainly enjoyed his days as a Penn State football player and his six-year stint in the NFL.

But his love wasn't football. It was basketball.

``I don't talk about the NFL or my football accolades, but I will talk about my hoop game,'' Thompson said. ``My hoop game was solid.''

It was so solid, Thompson, as a sophomore, was named the MVP of the state tournament as he led the Roadrunners to a state championship.

Asked if he would have preferred college basketball to football, the 5-foot-9 Thompson said: ``Absolutely, goodness gracious a live. … Everybody wants to do the opposite of the profession that made them famous. I wanted to play hoops. But I thought I was too short and football would give me a better opportunity to play at a big-time college program and to play in the pros. If I'd been 6-2, probably NBA.''

Thompson, who still holds the state high school record for most interceptions in a season (13), said one of the toughest days of his NFL career is when he beat out former Penn State teammate Blair Thomas while in New England, forcing Thomas to be cut.

``That was one of the most hurtful things to me because this guy was untouchable when I was at Penn State,'' Thompson said.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories