Sunday, February 2, 2003

Paterno: 2006 might be final year at Penn State



By The Associated Press

Joe Paterno might step down as coach of Penn State after the 2006 season.

Paterno told WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., that he has not decided on a firm retirement date, but that he might make that decision following the 2006 season.

Paterno, who has spent more than 50 years as coach at Penn State, turned 76 in December. His current contract runs through the 2004 season.

"Right now, I'm planning to go to 2006, through the 2006 season," Paterno said. "But if I feel as good as I do now three years from now, then I'm going to look at it again."

Paterno became an assistant at Penn State in 1950 and became head coach in 1966. He has long denied rumors of his impending retirement.

"Physically, I feel great," Paterno said on Jan. 2, after the Capital One Bowl. "I have some arthritis in the neck once in a while, my arms ache a little bit once in a while, but other than that. ... Once in a while you say, 'Hey, I'm 76.' And no matter how you twist it, I'm 76 and I'm not naive about it. But, honest to God, I don't feel 76."

In the WTKR interview, which aired Wednesday night while Paterno was in Virginia on a recruiting visit, the coach said that within a couple years he probably would start telling recruits that he might retire during their playing careers. If he does that, he said, he probably also would name a successor.

"I think at that time, I should start to designate who's going to succeed me, so when we're out recruiting a kid can identify with the people that he would be with maybe his sophomore and junior year," Paterno said. "I want to be fair."

In 37 seasons at Penn State, Paterno has record of 336-100-3, more wins than any major college coach in history.




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