A month after hip replacement surgery, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno wasn't sure if he would be coaching from the sideline when the Nittany Lions play USC in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
"We'll see how it goes this week," he told reporters Tuesday before practice at the Home Depot Center. "I haven't done enough on it yet. That jet lag got me the first day and then I did better yesterday. I think I'm OK, I'm trying."
Reliant on a golf cart to move around the field, Paterno, who arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday, said he looked forward to the matchup with the Trojans.
"I feel really good about the fact that we're out here," he said. ". . . I know [USC Coach Pete Carroll], but not real well. He's a very likable guy and obviously an outstanding coach. I just think he's done a terrific job."
Now in his 43rd season with the Nittany Lions, Paterno, who turned 82 on Sunday, was flattered to hear that members of the USC team looked forward to meeting one of the winningest coaches in history.
"I keep telling people, 'Hang around long enough, people start to wonder what makes you tick,' " he said.
"So they probably want to take a look at me to see if I'm still working. But I'm anxious to meet some of them. I'm not anxious to play against some of them, but I'm anxious to meet some of them. Their quarterback [Mark Sanchez] seems to be a super kid."
Penn State's starting quarterback, junior Daryll Clark, will be backed up by wide receiver Derrick Williams and senior Paul Cianciolo, because Pat Devlin left the team earlier this month with plans to transfer to a lower division program. Cianciolo did not play last season and has played in three games this season.
"We'll use [Williams] some," Paterno said. "I've said all along we have three quarterbacks. Obviously I'm disappointed Devlin left."
As for the three-year contract extension he was just offered, Paterno said it was no big deal.
"I just felt that I owed it to some of the kids who we were recruiting and so forth," he said. "To be frank with you, I got tired of people asking me how long I was going to coach. Let's pick three years all right? And then we'll go from there."
Family members of Penn State coaches and staff are scheduled to arrive today in Los Angeles on a chartered plane and plan to join the players for a holiday feast at their Santa Monica hotel. As is tradition, one of the players will dress up as Santa Claus and pass out presents to the children.