This just in: Joe Paterno isn't going anywhere.

And the stock market fluctuates.

Three days after his third-ranked Penn State team got to 9-0 for the first time in 9 years by finally finding the means to win at then-No. 10 Ohio State, the ageless one indicated that he probably will get something done "as soon as I can, after the season's over" to fix the hip/leg problem that's forced him to coach from the press box instead of the sideline through much of this run.

Because, he explained, that would allow him to "get back on the road and recruit."

He turns 82 on Dec. 21. Doesn't seem to matter. He could be making the same claim a decade from now.

"Have I ever said I wasn't coming back?" he asked.

And as long as the Nittany Lions keep playing like this, it's pretty much a nonissue.

They're off this Saturday, before playing their last road game at Iowa next week.

This morning, the winningest coach in major-college history is going to meet with his doctors and undergo some more tests.

"They need help [from me], to see exactly where we are," Paterno said. "I really haven't given them an opportunity to take a professional look, at what my situation might be. I think I'm going to get something done, but I want to find out what they think. It's not one of those things that has to be done [immediately].

"I'm uncomfortable, that's obvious. I'm walking around with a cane. But it's fixable, as I understand it. I don't want to put words in the docs' mouth. They really need to take a good look at me. Once we get it done, I don't think it's something that's going to keep me out for a long time.

"I want to know what my [medical] alternatives may be. Give me a choice, of what to do."

In the meantime, it's remained business as usual. At least internally.

"Too many people have worked too hard for me to back away," Paterno stressed. "We're on the verge of having some success in a lot of areas. There are things I have to be involved in. I've been upstairs, because I didn't want to be a distraction. I didn't think that [created] a good environment. [Otherwise] we're doing what we've always done.

"It's just so hard physically, for me to do some things every once in a while. Some mornings I don't go into the office. So we'll have a staff meeting on the phone. And I'll argue it out with them as if I were there. I just can't point my finger at them. But I don't think we've really changed much. On game day, I'm not even sure that hasn't worked out to our advantage. We've been together so long. We're doing all right."

And at practice, motoring around on a scooter isn't necessarily a bad thing either.

"I can probably have more fun with [the players]," Paterno admitted. "I can go around and grab them, spend less time getting from here to there. So there's a trade-off.

"But I'd love to do a little more physically than I'm doing now."

The last time the Nits won their first nine, they lost their next three. Not that Joe Pa chooses to remember much about how it all came apart in November 1999.

"I know Minnesota beat us on a Hail Mary [that set up the winning field goal]," Paterno recalled. "We had a different cast of characters. A couple of guys I felt kind of let the rest of the team down. I won't get into names. They were going to be high draft picks, all that kind of stuff, and maybe they just lost sight of the team. It was a question of what might happen to them. I didn't stay on top of it.

"Hopefully we're in a different situation this year.

"This has been a very, very coachable team. I think they've come together. They just realized the only thing that could prevent them from having a good team would be themselves.

"[But] there's a long ways to go yet."

This season. And maybe even on his résumé. *