Jay Paterno says finality of season hit him

DALLAS -- Walking off the field at the Cotton Bowl after a 30-14 defeat at the hands of Houston in the TicketCity Bowl, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno thought about the fact that a tumultuous 2011 season was over.

"The last two and a half months, we've been to hell and back in a lot of ways," Paterno said shortly following the game. "But more so for our kids. They did nothing."

Paterno said he thought about the victims and the various folks at the university that he's known for a long time that are dealing with the allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

"The one good thing that's come out of it is the character of the players that we have on our team and that's been shown to everyone," Paterno said. "I hope and pray that justice is done in the end. Sometimes you have to endure some things that are very, very difficult for the right things to happen."

Paterno said he talked to his father this week and that he was doing OK. But he admits that he's missed coaching games with his dad.

"It wasn't easy going to the practice field without him and coming to game day without him," Paterno said. "He's had a big impact in my life and will continue to in a different role. I always walked in the stadium knowing we had an ace up our sleeve in Joe."

Jay Paterno said that his dad has told him to not worry about him and "do your job."

Paterno plans on hitting the recruiting trail this week as he awaits word on a new head coach at Penn State and whether he'll be retained.

"You have kids in this program that will give every ounce of everything they have, no matter what happens to them internally or externally," Paterno said. "I'd like to be here next year at Penn State. I'd like to spend the next 25 years of my life coaching here as an assistant coach or the head coach. Penn State is a great institution."

Interim coach Tom Bradley spoke to the team shortly after the game.

"I wanted to thank them for all the things that they did for all of us, for what they had been through," Bradley said. "I told them we still had a lot to be thankful for. Things didn't go our way today. I told them in life it doesn't always work out that way. It's not what happens to you, it's how you react to it.

"I thought they had a tough go for four weeks, 50 some days, whatever it was, unique situation, obviously different. But I told them to stick together as a team. They're always going to be teammates for the rest of their life -- be proud of what they did accomplish."