April 13, 2010

Joe Paterno's Big Ten Spring Teleconference

Sick'em, Joe!

Penn State's patriarch gave his second formal press conference of the spring football season, this time as part of the Big Ten Coaches Teleconference rounds. Every Big Ten head coach gave their own, meaning this was probably viewed even less favorably by Paterno, who has standing personal orders to despise reporters and their questions to begin with.

The full transcript is below the main part of this post. But I'll give you the quick rundown in case you don't feel like reading the whole thing.

• Joe still hates freshmen. Those little pip-squeaks think they can mosey on down to Tuscaloosa and play a football game, never mind Iowa City and Columbus. Unless the kid is the next Derrick Williams, they ain't playin'.

• Freshmen shouldn't even be allowed to enroll early, like the can, and do now. But, "I am a voice in the wilderness..."

• If the Big Ten and the rest of college football doesn't get off its collective asses and expand the conferences, there's going to be heck to pay. Heck! I tell you!

• Joe hates this team. They're scum. Crap. Lousy. Not very good. Average. Terrible. A lot of work ahead of them... all words actually used (ok, maybe not all those words) by Joe to describe this team.

• It's going to be a loooong off-season for the Nittany Lions.

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Q: Coach, I know you say that your bottom line is that the freshmen do not exist much early. With guys coming in early, does it change your perspective of what they might be able to offer you in the fall as opposed to someone who shows up in June or August?
"Not really. There may be a kid every once in a while who comes in during January and is just that good. But in this league, and with the schedule we have to play - we have some pretty tough games on the road early in the year - I think we would make a mistake to put any one of them in a position where they've got to do a job that is too tough for them. We have Alabama in the second game. We have to go to Iowa in our fifth (game). I have always believed that you bring the young guys along and you try to encourage them, take a look at what potential they have and take a look at if they are in the right spots and the whole bit. Basically, you better get the guys who have been in some tough football games ready to play."

Q: What do you think about this growing trend of players coming in early?
"I think it is a lousy trend. I think kids ought to finish up high school. You are only young once. I am not happy we are doing it, to be honest with you. You get pressure all the time because there are kids you are recruiting, and you are recruiting them early. Other people are talking to them about starting early, so you end up (getting them early) to be competitive. But, I don't like it. I really don't. I think the best thing is to finish up high school, go to the prom, have memories of what high school was all about, start in college as a freshman when the rest of the kids do, and go from there. I am a voice in the wilderness..."

Q: What are your thoughts on the expansion talks? And how big of a deal in your mind is that six-week wait between the final game of the season and the bowl game?
"I think the Big Ten has put itself in a big disadvantage. When you play people who have played games three weeks after you finished playing, I think you are at a disadvantage. Having said that, even the television exposure has been a disadvantage for us. I think expansion is coming. Now, in what form...There is a lot about the Pac-10 is going to try to get two or more teams in their conference, somebody else is doing something else, and so forth. I'm not privy to that. Unfortunately, the athletic directors and the conference commissioners forget I've been in this thing for 60 years, so I don't get a lot of input. They don't call me and say, `what do you think of this and what do you think of that?' But, I think the trend is that there is going to be bigger conferences. I think there is going to be 12 or 14-team conferences, and even maybe 16-team conferences. Do I know what I am talking about? Who knows? But, I do think, with the television situation the way it is and the great impact it has on exposure, and what that exposure does, as far as recruiting, I think that we are naive if we, when I say we, I mean the Big Ten, and anyone else involved with a BCS championship, I think we are naive if we can sit back and watch everyone move ahead. They are going to move ahead. We better start thinking about where we are going."

Q: If you did get a say in expansion, what would you advocate? Do you want to see 12 (schools)? Do you want to see 16?
"When all of this happens, I will probably be out of this thing. All I have tried to do is push. I would like to see our particular conference, the Big Ten, move East a little bit. I would like to see at least one team in the East. I think it would give us a little broader television market and a little bit more exposure. And if we had 12 teams, it would give us a chance to get into some kind of championship thing (game). Division one would play division two in a championship game. Whether that means you go 12 or you go 14, I don't know. I don't know all of the consequences. I think the thing you have to do though, is when you get married, you better marry someone you love. And that means, someone who appreciates what you want to do. We have got to get people in our conference that are AAU schools, schools that have the same kind of commitment academically. And I'm not even talking about on the football field. I'm not talking about athletics. I am talking about research and all of those other things. One of the reasons we got in the Big Ten so easily and so quickly is because we were a very comparable institution to some of the really great institutions that are in the Big Ten. And I would hope we would do that. And along with that, bring along some people who have a comprehensive athletic program. They are going to have broad-based women's sports. They are going to have broad-based men's sports. We are not just looking at football and basketball. We are looking at the other sports. We can really mesh that we are all on the same page and nobody dominates it. It isn't a question of bringing somebody in that you are going to kick around. It is a question of bringing somebody in that can handle the academics, research, AAU schools, people who are committed to women's sports, people who are committed to all sports programs, the commitment to the ideals that intercollegiate athletics should be all about. Now, can you find one, two, three, four...I don't know. That is up to people who are outside my realm."

Q: I wanted to ask you about the team. How have they looked this spring? I know there is a lot of attention on the quarterbacks, how did they do on the first Saturday?
"We are not a very good football team right now. We are just not very good. The quarterbacks are very average, but they are young. Hopefully, over a period of time they will get better. We are just very average right now. We are not tough. We are just not doing some things very well right now. The kicking game is terrible. We have six more practices. We are going to concentrate and get a little bit better in those areas, but we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Q: Is it just because you have a lot of young guys, or are some of the older guys not taking the step you need this spring?
"Well, I think it is a combination of both. We are very young in key spots. We don't have a quarterback who has played more than 20 plays. You stick them in the huddle and you give them some things you want to do. We have some very gifted skill people on both sides of the football. We have a very average offensive line. As I said, I am a little disappointed in our kicking game. We have a lot of work ahead of us. That doesn't mean we can't get it done, but I think we have to be realistic and stop dreaming that all of a sudden the good Lord is going to come down and bless us. We've got to go to work."


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