Top 25 Football: Penn State 49, Michigan State 18
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. ó Penn State coach Joe Paterno has no plans to go out on top of the Big Ten.
After the Nittany Lions routed No. 17 Michigan State 49-18 on Saturday to earn a conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl, Paterno said he doesn’t intend for his 43rd season as head coach to be his last ó at least not yet.
“I’m planning on coming back, yeah,” Paterno said. “I never planned otherwise. Evryone’s making a big deal that I don’t have a contract signed. I’ve never even asked to do that.
“I’ll sit down some time in the next couple weeks with (athletic director) Tim Curley, President Spanier, and say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this, what do you think of that, what are we going to do’ and that kind of thing.
“So when I talk to a high school kid, I can be honest with them. Right now, I have no plans to leave. We’ll see what happens.”
Daryll Clark threw for career-highs of 341 yards and four touchdowns and a stingy Penn State defense held Javon Ringer to a season-low 42 yards.
With Paterno coaching again from the press box because of a sore hip, Penn State (11-1, 7-1) secured a share of the conference title and the school’s first trip to Pasadena since 1995.
Rumors have swirled for weeks as to whether it would be JoePa’s last game at Beaver Stadium. The Hall of Famer doesn’t have a contract after this season, but both he and Spanier said Paterno doesn’t need one to stay on a job.
“Joe Paterno! Joe Paterno!” yelled fans in the stands midway through the fourth quarter as they turned and waved at the coach in the press box.
It was a memorable day nonetheless in snowy and cold Happy Valley.
Penn State’s seniors celebrated their final home game in style, some holding roses in their mouths after the game.
Cane in hand, Paterno beamed in the locker room after getting presented the Big Ten trophy.
“I’ve been proud of them for four years,” Paterno said. “It’s just been so satisfying to see those guys stick together.”
The Nittany Lions claimed a share of the Big Ten title with Ohio State, which beat Michigan earlier Saturday.
But Penn State owns the conference’s automatic BCS bid by virtue of its 13-6 win over the Buckeyes earlier this year. Some players tried to get defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who’s taken the lead role on the sideline with Paterno in the press box, to hold a rose in his mouth in the closing seconds.
Bradley tried to stay serious, fighting back a smile, as the players celebrated.
The final home game for Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and 15 other Penn State seniors ended with the school joining Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Nebraska and Ohio State as programs with 800 victories.
Butler caught three TDs in his last home game, and, fittingly, Williams and fellow senior captain Anthony Scirrotto played integral roles in helping Penn State build a 28-0 lead late in the first half.