STATE COLLEGE, PA. — A month ago, Penn State coaches and players said seeing Joe Paterno break another record was definitely not on their minds.
Now, with Paterno still one game behind Bear Bryant on the major college wins list, some players are talking about winning one for their coach.
Paterno has been stuck on 322 wins for three games. Coming into the season, fans pointed to September games at Virginia and at Iowa as the best chances to tie the record. The Virginia game was postponed because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At Iowa, the Lions struggled early and couldn't recover.
"Some of the players said the other day it's about time we win one for Joe," lineman Chris McKelvy said. "He's one win away from tying one of the greatest records in college football, and we're pretty much just messing around right now."
With the Nittany Lions off to an 0-3 start their worst since 1983 the record for the most major college football wins has eluded Paterno. There's speculation that Florida State's Bobby Bowden, who has 318 career wins, might reach Bryant's record first.
Neither team has an easy road. Penn State finishes this month against No. 15 Michigan, at No. 14 Northwestern and against Ohio State with Indiana, Michigan State and Virginia also on the schedule.
Florida State, ranked No. 16, has this week off before playing No. 1 Miami, at Virginia, No. 25 Maryland at No. 19 Clemson, with the annual grudge match against No. 2 Florida waiting in November.
While some players admit feeling some sense of urgency to get Paterno the record, the 74-year-old coach still says it isn't as important as one might think. "All I want to do is to go out there and do the best I can for this football team," Paterno said.