PSU's Paterno believes contract situation won't affect recruiting

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno doesn't think Penn State's recruiting will be negatively affected by his uncertain contract status.

When the subject comes up with a high school prospect, the 81-year-old Paterno said Saturday, he "tells them exactly what I think. I hope I'm going to coach here, while you're here, I may not ... who knows what's going to happen?

"I think we had a heck of a year recruiting," Paterno said before the Blue-White spring scrimmage.

It was his first meeting with reporters since university president Graham Spanier said the school and Paterno agreed that a new contract beyond this year isn't necessary for a man entering his 43rd season on the sideline with the Nittany Lions. They plan to meet at the end of the season, as usual, to discuss the future.

One notable blue chipper who got away this year was quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who signed with Big Ten rival Ohio State. But Paterno said he remains optimistic about the future.

"I'm excited about the team I got, I'm excited about our prospects for recruiting," he said he told recruits.

Paterno reiterated that when he does leave, he wouldn't mind someone from his staff taking over.

"I'm worried about having a good football team next year, that's all I'm worried about," he said.

Paterno also said he hadn't followed the rape case against his former running back, Austin Scott. Prosecutors on Friday dropped all charges against Scott, more than six months after he was arrested.

Paterno suspended Scott on Oct. 5 for a violation of team rules, and the tailback was charged a week later. Scott's lawyer, John Karoly, said in a statement Friday night that Paterno "had never bothered to even ask [Scott] for his side of the story" before the player was kicked off the team.

The coach said he had no regrets on how he handled Scott's situation.

"Regardless of the other incident, I probably would have suspended him anyway. He was out until 3 or 4 in the morning," Paterno said.

Scott hopes to play in the NFL, and Paterno said he told Scott last week on the phone to talk to him "as soon as you get through this thing" about his professional aspirations.