Making predictions, especially about sports, is like taking shots in the dark. A hit is usually a surprise. Here is a look back and a look ahead concerning Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

Tim Stephens of the Orlando Sentinel

recently looked back at his 2008 predictions: "A lot of people were writing off Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions after a turbulent off-season. I projected them No. 10 and placed them in a BCS bowl."

Stephens did pretty well. The Lions are ranked sixth in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches polls. And, of course, they are indeed in a BCS bowl.

As for the look ahead,

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times

chimed in recently on Paterno's future with this quip: "Penn State announced that its football-coach-in-waiting will be a lifesize JoePa cardboard cutout."

And if that wasn't (bad) enough, Perry also penned this as a year 2525 headline: "Penn State, Joe Paterno's mummified remains agree to three-year contract extension."

We told you it was hard to predict - and be funny at the same time.

Watch out, Daryll Clark

Says

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star:

"Keep an eye on Southern California linebacker Ray Maualuga, one of the nation's most dominant defenders."

If only . . .

Here is

President-elect Barack Obama

on a recent episode of

60 Minutes

, calling for a college football playoff system: "Any sensible person would say that if you've got a bunch of teams who played throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses - there's no clear, decisive winner - that we should be creating a playoff system."

Amen to that.

Great memory

Pete Alfano of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

offered these memories of 1966, the year in which Joe Paterno became head coach at Penn State:

"The Vatican rescinded the rule forbidding U.S. Catholics to eat meat on Friday.

"Gasoline cost 32 cents a gallon.

"President-elect Barack Obama was 5 years old.

"The Academy Award for Best Picture went to

A Man for All Seasons

."

Sunshine Boys

Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times

wrote recently that Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, the winningest coaches in college football history, are engaging in what he calls "Codger Roulette."

Here is how Shelton put it: "Honestly, though, aren't you getting the feeling it's awfully important to these guys to finish with more wins than the other? Aren't there times you think the only thing that is keeping Joe going is Bobby and his 381 victories, and the only thing that is keeping Bobby going is Joe and his 383?

"It's like watching the Sunshine Boys with whistles. It's like

The Bucket List

if warm milk was in the bucket."

Not even close

In case you missed it, here is this week's voting for the AP's coach of the year:

Nick Saban, Alabama, 32 votes; Mike Leach, Texas Tech, 9; Kyle Whittingham, Utah, 6; Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech, 5;

Joe Paterno, Penn State 3;

Brady Hoke, Ball State, 2; Mack Brown, Texas, 1; Turner Gill, Buffalo, 1; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, 1; Brian Kelly, Cincinnati, 1; Chris Peterson, Boise State, 1.

- Compiled by Gary Miles