STATE COLLEGE, PA. Joe Paterno declared himself "out" for Penn State's next game Saturday, designating longtime assistant Tom Bradley to make any tough calls in the school's first contest without the coaching icon since 1977.
Heeding his doctor's advice, Paterno told his staff Thursday that he would not be at Beaver Stadium for Saturday's game against Temple. The 79-year-old coach had surgery Sunday to repair a fractured shinbone and two torn knee ligaments in his left leg, injuries sustained in a sideline collision in a loss last week to Wisconsin.
His left leg fitted with a temporary brace, Paterno spoke with his assistants Thursday morning during a meeting at his Mount Nittany Medical Center room.
"You guys know what you're doing and what I want enough that I don't need to be there creating a huge distraction Saturday," he told them, according to a team statement. "Enough on me; let's get back to football."
Paterno remained in good condition Thursday and was described by a team spokesman, Guido D'Elia, to be in good spirits, his recovery from surgery proceeding well.
Paterno is eager to check out, though he won't be released until team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli is satisfied with the progress of his recovery. So it's unclear whether Paterno will watch his squad Saturday from home or from his room at the hospital, just down the street from the stadium.
The coach "just realized he's got to be proactive," D'Elia said, "that in this condition it wasn't safe to be out and about."
So JoePa and his rolled-up khakis will be missing from the Penn State sideline for the first time since 1977, when he missed a game after his son, David, was involved in an accident. Paterno also missed a game as an assistant in 1955 after his father died.