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ROSE BOWL DAILY REPORT : Will Lions Be the First Team?

December 30, 1994|RANDY HARVEY

Twenty-five years later, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno said Thursday he is still annoyed that then-President Richard Nixon bestowed a national championship plaque upon Texas at the end of the 1969 regular season, even though the Nittany Lions also were undefeated.

But if the national championship race becomes a political issue after Monday's bowl games, Paterno said he expects support from the White House. First Lady Hillary Clinton's father, Hugh Rodham, played football for Penn State in 1934, and her brother, Hugh Rodham Jr., was a walk-on for the Nittany Lions, although he did not play enough to earn a letter.

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Oregon Coach Rich Brooks was not very optimistic about the status of starting wide receiver Cristin McLemore, a junior from Huntington Beach, who sat out practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. McLemore practiced Thursday at Glendora's Citrus College and made one outstanding catch, but Brooks said he expected the ankle to swell overnight.

"He's not going to be 100%," Brooks said.

But McLemore refused to be counted out of Monday's game.

"He's saying that stuff to get me going," McLemore said of Brooks. "I ain't that old that I can't come back."

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The only Penn State player considered questionable is defensive tackle Eric Clair, who had 11 tackles and a sack in the 63-14 victory over Ohio State but has been sidelined since Nov. 1 because of a broken bone in his right foot.

Clair said his condition has improved each day this week and he should be ready to play.

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Brooks will close the team's practice to media and fans today for the first time since arriving in Southern California on Monday.

"We want to work on a couple of special things I plan to do in the game that I don't want the world to see yet," Brooks said.

Paterno, on the other hand, has closed his practices all week at UC Irvine. He almost never opens them, even at home.

"The practice field is a classroom," he said. "I don't want a lot of people around."

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As for Brooks' statement this week that Penn State has the best offense he has ever seen, Paterno said: "Richie's a good guy and a great friend of mine, but he can blow smoke like everyone else."

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