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MORNING BRIEFING

Paterno isn't trying to race Bowden

August 30, 2008|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Joe Paterno is 81, and after 59 years as an assistant coach or the head coach at Penn State, he's as much a part of the football scene at Beaver Stadium as the cement.

Paterno starts the last season of his contract today when Penn State plays host to Coastal Carolina, which ended 2007 as the 53rd-ranked team in Division I-AA.

"I think it's a good opener for us," Paterno said.

He's probably right about that, but it's a long season and Paterno has something to shoot for besides a contract extension. He has 372 wins, one fewer than another hoary coach, Florida State's Bobby Bowden, who is 78.

Not that Paterno is thinking about that.

"Who cares? When they bury me, they're going to put it on my gravestone, you're one win ahead of Bobby Bowden? No. That's good for you guys, you need something to write about obviously."

Trivia time

What is Penn State's record in season openers under Paterno?

Hey, swingers

Holy splinters, batman. A New Jersey inventor says he's devised an unbreakable wooden bat, or at least one that has a one-year guarantee. Ward Dill, an MIT grad, calls his product the Radial Bat, and it takes the aluminum 'ping' out of youth baseball bats.

Bus next time

You think it's an easy commute from Honolulu to Gainesville, Fla.? Not the way the University of Hawaii did it to get there for today's game against Florida. The team flew commercially to Los Angeles and to Atlanta, where it practiced two days, then flew a charter to Gainesville.

The return is a charter to Atlanta and then a 10-hour commercial flight to Honolulu. The idea is to save money. Hope it was worth it -- the trip will wind up lasting a week.

Yeah, problem

Michigan State expects as many as 15,000 fans at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley for its opener today against Cal, and Spartans Coach Mark Dantonio said it's a big game, but still just one game: "We still have to come back and play Eastern Michigan next week." Of course he's worried. Eastern Michigan was 4-8 last year.

Flaking out

Sorting out the cereal box wars, Wheaties (General Mills) announced it will have gymnast Nastia Liukin and decathlete Bryan Clay depicted on box covers. Corn Flakes (Kellogg's) previously announced that Michael Phelps would be on its box covers.

Perfect sense

Now that its sponsorship deal has been extended three years, the Budweiser Shootout could be interesting next year when it kicks off the NASCAR season at Daytona. New rules allow Joey Logano to race -- and he's only 18, not old enough to drink. He's just old enough to speed.

Trivia answer

After a 59-0 victory over Florida International last year, it's 35-7.

And finally

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones told USA Today that he's cool with the NFL's decision to allow radio headsets in the helmets of certain defensive players: "I hear voices in my head all the time. I'm used to it."

--

thomas.bonk@latimes.com

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