Texas A&M red-faced over 'casket' comment at pep rally

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Texas A&M officials have apologized to Penn
State administrators for a student leader's references to needing a
"casket" for coach Joe Paterno.

One A&M yell leader, during a pep rally Thursday night, told the
crowd that Paterno was "on his death bed" and "someone needs to
find him a casket." The remarks drew boos from the crowd.

Paterno turned 81 last week. Penn State faces A&M on Saturday
night in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

A&M team spokesman Alan Cannon said Friday he did not know the
name of the yell leader, though the student has been sent home.

The yell leaders -- similar to cheerleaders -- are A&M's official
spirit organization and lead fans' cheers during games and
other school events. They are elected by the student body.

Some A&M and Penn State fans said the student's remarks were
offensive and inappropriate.

Paterno, at a news conference Friday at the Alamodome, said he
was backstage with Aggies interim coach Gary Darnell when the
comments were made, but did not hear them.

"I think everybody has to take things with a grain of salt,"
Paterno said. "Some young guy went up there, trying to be funny.
Maybe he's accurate, I don't know."

Texas A&M's interim president, Eddie Davis, and athletic
director Bill Byrne later apologized to their Penn State

"I honestly didn't hear it, and I don't particularly care about
it," Paterno said Friday. "Sticks and stones will break your
bones but names will never hurt you."

Paterno, a 42-year head-coaching veteran, is about to enter the
last year of a four-year contract that expires following the 2008