Rose Bowl Notes

ANAHEIM, Calif. -

Joe Paterno

took his time climbing the steps to the podium at Disneyland.

If this is a man who plans on being on the Rose Bowl sideline just a month after hip replacement surgery, he sure didn't look it.

For his part, the 82-year-old Penn State coach said he hadn't made a decision yet on his whereabouts for the game on Thursday. Paterno spent the last seven games of the regular season coaching from the press box.

"The thing I want to be careful of is, I want to make sure I can do some things - because I don't want to be on the sideline and be a distraction," Paterno said. "You know, everybody's worried about, 'Where's Joe?' "

Paterno said he has been trying to take his recovery slowly. He said he's been taking a lot of blood thinner - a normal precaution following surgery of this type. Still, he said he feels no pain.

"I want to make sure that I can be on my feet for 31/2 to 4 hours," he said.

Yesterday, Paterno said that the three-year contract extension that he was granted last week has been signed, sealed and delivered. He did not, however, confirm a report that his assistants also received a three-year deal.

"I have an obligation to the staff and, hopefully, they're comfortable with what we're getting done," Paterno said. "I'm not saying anything. The coaches know what's going on."

Merry Christmas

The Nittany Lions held their Christmas party on Wednesday evening after practice, and there was a team Santa Claus.

To almost no surprise,

Brandon Ware

was chosen to play St. Nick. The 6-foot-3, 361-pound freshman defensive tackle donned the red and white and handed out gifts to his teammates.

According to senior defensive end

Josh Gaines,

Ware handled the job with great aplomb. There was one dissenting opinion, though. Senior center

A.Q. Shipley

- and Santa 2005-06 - claimed Ware wasn't the best jolly fellow in team history.

"No, no he wasn't," Shipley said. "I like to try and take credit for the two years that I was Santa. But he did a great job."

The team shared a meal and then sang Christmas carols, senior safety

Anthony Scirrotto

said. Many of the players used Christmas Day as a chance to relax.

"I slept a lot," Scirrotto said. "I went out and ate and then picked my girlfriend up at the airport and exchanged a few gifts with her."

Califun

Gaines visited the famous Chinese Theater and the movie star handprints in front. Most of the team hit the beach in Santa Monica, although the weather wasn't cooperative.

Yesterday, it was sunny with highs in the upper 60s, and the forecast calls for the same through the weekend.

- Jeff McLane