As I went through my Big Ten Media Day audio and transcript of legendary Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno, I thought "wow, some of my media brethren are ghouls. There's a lot in here about death and illness."
He summed up the day's theme best at the dais:
"what did Mark Twain say, the rumor of my death has been
over-exaggerated or something, I forget. I used to know a little bit
more about those. I really ?? I didn't lose any time. I had, as I said,
the problem I had was not having control of some things, and I had to
be careful that I didn't get myself in a position where I would
JoePa was so detailed about his "ailments," because the media fixated on it.
It all started with USA Today's Marlen (pronounced
"Mare-uh-lyn") Garcia asking "I'm thinking you're going to be Penn
State's coach until the day you die. What do you think about that?
Paterno responded: "Is that wishful thinking or what? Oh, I really
don't think about that. I just ?? I'm enjoying it. I like to coach.
She followed up by asking about the problem with his intestines, but
Paterno stated that it was a little bit below the intestines. This
caused much laughter.
Garcia, who seemed to be engaged in a fierce contest with ESPN's Adam
Rittenberg to see who could ask the most questions at media day,
followed up during Paterno's individual availability session by
assessing his health.
"You seem a little more tired compared to at this time last year,"
she said sounding like a cross between a goth chick and a doctor.
Paterno was hilariously deadpan in his response:
"I've answered some dumb questions about my health," and then
reiterated that he's not tired, and that he feels fine. There were so
many questions about his health that he had to say again, in response to
another question, "I feel fine alright, I feel good, I'm not worried
about having to leave you guys."
Another reporter, whose name I don't know, told JoePa his ailment is a
delicate thing to write about. Paterno said "No Kidding! It's a heck of
a lot worse to have."
I wasn't the only person to notice this phenomenon. Clearly, Bleacher Report is having some fun with it. But JoePa's health-related quote of the day was no doubt his candid opinion on the legacy of his career win total.
"when I'm down and looking up, are they going to put 399 on top of me
or are they going to put 401? Who the hell cares? I won't know
But he also had plenty to say about football. Yes, football actually.
All the hot topics of Big Ten expansion, adding the conference title
game etc. all came up, and amidst these winds of change, Paterno said
there's one thing about the process he would certainly change.
"If I had any criticism of this, I'd say why do we do this so late?
Do it two weeks ago, The Pac 10, SEC had there's already...I don't want
to be here today, I want to be in State College, I want to be around
with the coaches."
I couldn't agree more. There was one question that was even dumber
(at least the phrasing of it was) than any of the health questions.
"When would you like to have the quarterback situation figured out?"
asked a reporter.
"A half-hour from now...The sooner the better, but I'm not going to panic or rush,' he answered.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune's blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com