Despite Media Day Reports, Joe Paterno Still not Dead

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As I went through my Big Ten Media Day audio and transcript of legendary Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno, I thought “wow, some of my media brethren are ghouls. There’s a lot in here about death and illness.”

And this is very important because the 83-year-old Paterno is THE “get” of Big Ten Media Days. He’s like a college football version of Yoda, Jackie Mason and Rodney Dangerfield combined.

He summed up the day’s theme best at the dais:

“what did Mark Twain say, the rumor of my death has been over-exaggerated or something, I forget.  I used to know a little bit more about those. I really ?? I didn’t lose any time.  I had, as I said, the problem I had was not having control of some things, and I had to be careful that I didn’t get myself in a position where I would embarrass myself.”

JoePa was so detailed about his “ailments,” because the media fixated on it.

By Paul M. Banks

It all started with USA Today‘s Marlen (pronounced “Mare-uh-lyn”) Garcia asking “I’m thinking you’re going to be Penn State’s coach until the day you die.  What do you think about that?

Paterno responded: “Is that wishful thinking or what?  Oh, I really don’t think about that.  I just ?? I’m enjoying it.  I like to coach.

She followed up by asking about the problem with his intestines, but Paterno stated that it was a little bit below the intestines. This caused much laughter.

Garcia, who seemed to be engaged in a fierce contest with ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg to see who could ask the most questions at media day, followed up during Paterno’s individual availability session by assessing his health.

“You seem a little more tired compared to at this time last year,” she said sounding like a cross between a goth chick and a doctor. Paterno was hilariously deadpan in his response:

“I’ve answered some dumb questions about my health,” and then reiterated that he’s not tired, and that he feels fine. There were so many questions about his health that he had to say again, in response to another question, “I feel fine alright, I feel good, I’m not worried about having to leave you guys.”

Another reporter, whose name I don’t know, told JoePa his ailment is a delicate thing to write about. Paterno said “No Kidding! It’s a heck of a lot worse to have.”

I wasn’t the only person to notice this phenomenon. Clearly, Bleacher Report is having some fun with it. But JoePa’s health-related quote of the day was no doubt his candid opinion on the legacy of his career win total.

“when I’m down and looking up, are they going to put 399 on top of me or are they going to put 401?  Who the hell cares?  I won’t know (laughter).”

But he also had plenty to say about football. Yes, football actually. All the hot topics of Big Ten expansion, adding the conference title game etc. all came up, and amidst these winds of change, Paterno said there’s one thing about the process he would certainly change.

“If I had any criticism of this, I’d say why do we do this so late? Do it two weeks ago, The Pac 10, SEC had there’s already…I don’t want to be here today, I want to be in State College, I want to be around with the coaches.”

I couldn’t agree more. There was one question that was even dumber (at least the phrasing of it was) than any of the health questions. “When would you like to have the quarterback situation figured out?” asked a reporter.

“A half-hour from now…The sooner the better, but I’m not going to panic or rush,’ he answered.

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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Comments

  1. Joe Paterno is more of a low talker than the chick from Seinfeld… literally was standing 8 feet away from him at media day and couldn’t hear a word he was saying… sort of like when my niece or nephew talks and I don’t understand what they are saying… I just nod my head…

  2. paulmbanks says

    Yeah no shit, my audio on this was brutal. Even though I was right there next to him. I always laugh when I hear that one loud, redneck reporter who covers Penn State, I remember him distinctly because he was the guy JoePa lit up when asked about their cupcake scheduling. That was a funny incident. And I laugh everytime that guy speaks now

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