Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno met with reporters Friday to preview the Rose Bowl, but most of the discussion had little to do with USC or Pasadena.
In his first news conference since undergoing hip-replacement surgery Nov. 23, Paterno showed up without a cane and reiterated his plan to return to the sideline for the Rose Bowl. He has every intention of returning in 2009 and already has had some discussions with athletic director Tim Curley.
Paterno said he plans to coach "for a while."
Paterno also addressed the departure of backup quarterback Pat Devlin earlier this week. Devlin and his parents met with Paterno and informed the coach of the decision to transfer.
"It was clear he was going to leave," Paterno said. "I asked if he would consider going to the Rose Bowl. Pat was not sure and had not really thought about it. He asked what I thought and I said I thought it might be a distraction."
Devlin had been considering transferring for some time.
"The timing may have not been the best, but it was the best for him," Paterno said. "It's a loss. The timing -- that was his call, it's his life and he had to do what was best for him."
Devlin's departure leaves Penn State in a bit of a bind at quarterback for the Rose Bowl. Senior Paul Cianciolo will serve as Daryll Clark's primary backup, and Paterno said wide receiver Derrick Williams, who was used late in the season in the "Wildcat" formation, also will be in the mix.
Center A.Q. Shipley hasn't spoken to Devlin in recent days and first heard the news of the departure while he was in Orlando to receive the Rimington Trophy.
"It was as shocking to me as it was to most people," Shipley told me this morning. "He's a good quarterback, he's going to go wherever and I wish him the best.
"He seemed fine, no different than he has. You never know what he's thinking inside. I don't know what triggered it, but he made the decision and I hope for the best for him."