Penn State Notes

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State quarterback

Anthony Morelli

did not show up for yesterday's Alamo Bowl media session, even though the senior captain was expected to be among the attendees.

According to team spokesman

Jeff Nelson

, Morelli said he would not be able to make it.

Morelli has not met with reporters since the Nittany Lions beat Temple, 31-0, on Nov. 10. He missed his scheduled conference call before the Nov. 17 Michigan State game for what were deemed "academic reasons." He also skipped postgame interviews after the Spartans beat Penn State, 35-31.

Morelli completed 16 of 35 passes for 188 yards in that game. But he failed to direct the Lions to a late game-winning touchdown, a serial flaw that has been a constant source of criticism. This season, he has thrown for 2,508 yards, with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

"Morelli's been kind of an unsung hero on this football team," head coach

Joe Paterno

said.

At last year's Capital One Bowl media day, Morelli sounded off at critics who had labeled the former five-star recruit slow to understand the quarterback position.

"I'm tired of people thinking I'm this idiot quarterback," he said then.

Morelli went on to have his best game of the season when Penn State beat Tennessee, 20-10.

"I don't think he's hiding from the media," wide receiver

Deon Butler

said yesterday. "I think he's more just trying to clear his head and focus" on the Alamo Bowl.

Disciplinary update

Joe Paterno said that defensive tackle

Chris Baker

, linebacker

Navorro Bowman

, and special-teams contributor

Knowledge Timmons

would make the trip to San Antonio, Texas.

The three were suspended for the Michigan State game after charges were filed against them for their alleged roles in an October on-campus fight that left a man bloodied.

"They're going to make the trip," Paterno said. "What I'm going to do, we'll see."

Baker and Bowman, who were charged with assault, have an April trial on several misdemeanor charges. A more serious felony count was dropped at a preliminary hearing.

Timmons was issued misdemeanor citations for his actions after the fight.

Coaching change

Safeties coach

Brian Norwood

left to become the defensive coordinator at Baylor last week, but Joe Paterno isn't expecting any future departures from his assistants.

"Nobody's given me any indication they're going," Paterno said.

Kermit Buggs

, coordinator of player personnel the last two seasons and a graduate assistant before that, replaces Norwood.

"You hate to lose a guy like Brian," Paterno said, "but I'm glad we had a guy like Kermit waiting in the wings."

- Jeff McLane