STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno isn't going let a broken
leg keep him from coaching his team again.
The 79-year-old Penn State coach broke his left leg and damaged
a knee ligament when two players ran into him during the Nittany
Lions' loss to Wisconsin, and team officials said Sunday that
surgery was being considered.
Paterno's son and quarterbacks coach, Jay, said he spoke with
his father Sunday and there was "no thought whatsoever of not
coming back this year. ... It's not even in the discussion. There's
nothing more to read into this in terms of his career."
Paterno fractured the top of his tibia, or shin bone, on
Saturday, according to team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli. The injury
typically heals on its own with rehabilitation, though doctors and
team officials were considering whether surgery would help the leg
heal faster, said Guido D'Elia, director of communications for
"He wants to make the quickest fix," D'Elia said.
Paterno had some ligament damage to the left knee, though the
extent was unknown, assistant athletic director Jeff Nelson said.
Paterno, who turns 80 next month, was trying to maintain his
normal routine while working from home Sunday, reviewing tapes,
talking to staff by speakerphone and getting ready for the next
game at home against Temple.
"It was a matter of we should have done that, we should have
done this," Jay Paterno said. "He had suggestions for everybody
The elder Paterno is in his 41st year as Penn State head coach
and under contract through the end of 2008. Only Amos Alonzo Stagg
coached as long with one school, leading the University of Chicago
from 1892 to 1932.
No determination had been made about whether Paterno could
return to the sideline for the Temple game or monitor his team from
the coach's box above the stands.
Fans hoped for the best. A bronzed statue of Paterno outside
Beaver Stadium had a bandage wrapped around the left leg, and a
sign hanging around the neck that read, "Get well soon!! We (love)
U JoePa!!" Former players such as O.J. McDuffie, KiJana Carter and
Michael Robinson called or sent messages of concern.
Paterno's 360 career wins are second among major college coaches
to the 364 of Florida State's Bobby Bowden.
Paterno was knocked to the turf at Camp Randall Stadium in
Madison, Wis., when Nittany Lions tight end Andrew Quarless and
Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy barreled into him. Quarless had
just caught a pass along the sideline early in the second half of
the Nittany Lions' 13-3 loss to the Badgers (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten).
Penn State (6-4, 4-3) lost to a ranked opponent for the fourth time
Replays showed Levy colliding helmet-first with Paterno's left
leg as the linebacker fell while tackling Quarless.
Paterno stood for several minutes along the sideline after
getting hit before having to be helped to the bench, where he
remained seated most of the third quarter surrounded by trainers
"He's a wily old rascal," Penn State defensive coordinator Tom
Bradley, who filled in for Paterno in the second half, said after
Saturday's game. "He's not going anywhere unless he has to. He's
Paterno was then carted to the locker room with less than two
minutes remaining in the quarter, and flown back to State College
on Saturday night ahead of his team.
It has been a rough season physically for Paterno.
Paterno had to leave the sideline in Penn State's game at Ohio
State on Sept. 23 after he became ill -- the first time he left the
field during a game in more than four decades as head coach.
He returned briefly at halftime, then left again before coming
back at the start of the fourth quarter.
In practice the following week, Paterno was blindsided by two
players -- one of whom was Quarless -- going full-bore for a pass.
Paterno didn't run out with his team before the next game, a win
over Northwestern, and looked a little hobbled pacing the sideline.
Afterward, he jokingly referred to his "banged up ribs."