Penn State Notes

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A new

Joe Paterno

sauntered into Penn State's pre-Rose Bowl news conference yesterday.

Paterno, without a cane, made his first public appearance since he underwent hip-replacement surgery Nov. 23. The coach looked significantly better than he had for much of the season as his right leg deteriorated.

Paterno, as the season progressed, was less able to partake in his usual coaching habits. During practice he was driven around in a golf cart, and in the last seven games of the season he coached from the coaches' box.

"It wasn't pleasant. . . . It was a pain in the rear end, to be honest," said Paterno, who downplayed the injury throughout the season. "But right now, I don't have any pain."

Paterno, who turns 82 on Dec. 21, said he feels so good that he conceivably could coach much longer. He did have his doubts, though.

"Sometimes you get to the point where you wonder whether it's worth it," Paterno said. "But now I feel good. . . . There's no reason for me not to think I can't go for a while."

Paterno's contract expires after the Rose Bowl. He said last month that he plans to return. He will meet with university president

Graham Spanier

and athletic director

Tim Curley

after the season to discuss his future.

He said he has had some preliminary discussions with Curley and could talk more next week, but he isn't concerned about a deal getting done before he departs for the West Coast on Dec. 20.

"You guys are more concerned about things than I am," Paterno said. "The university will be fair to me. If we can work out something that they're comfortable with and I'm comfortable with before the bowl, then fine. I just get tired of recruits asking me, 'How long are you going to be here?' "

Paterno said he used a walker for the first two days of his rehab and occasionally has relied on a cane. He's still not sure, however, if his new hip will allow him to coach from the Rose Bowl sideline.

Early birds?

Defensive end

Aaron Maybin

and defensive tackle

Jared Odrick

confirmed they have filed papers with the NFL draft advisory committee, though both underclassmen have not committed to leaving school early.

"After the bowl game, I'll talk it over with my coaches and see what they have to say," Maybin said. "But right now, all indications are that I'll be back next year."

Some draft experts have projected Maybin, who led the Big Ten with 12 sacks, as a first-round selection, even though the redshirt sophomore is slight (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) for an end. Odrick, also a first-team all-Big Ten member as a junior, has been pegged as a second- to third-round pick.

Honest Josh

Asked if he thought one-loss Penn State had a right to play in the national-championship game, defensive end

Josh Gaines

responded: "To be honest, our schedule is not as tough as some other people. That's my personal opinion. Joe [Paterno] might smack me for saying that."

Shipley's believe it or not

Center A.Q. Shipley won the Rimington Trophy on Thursday night and was named a first-team Walter Camp all-American.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.