STATE COLLEGE - To much of the nation, Penn State's football image is as old school as old school can be.

From their basic, blue-and-white uniforms to their 82-year-old coach's well-known disdain for electronic gadgets, the Nittany Lions sometime give the impression, mistaken though it might be, that they are one step removed from the days of leather helmets, dropkicks and the single wing.

Coach Joe Paterno seems to relish his image as one of his profession's last curmudgeonly throwbacks. No, he tells the media every year, he doesn't even have a cell phone or send and receive e-mail. His most recent rant was directed at Twitter, which he dismisses as "tweedle doo or tweedle dee, tweet and twit."

Jay Paterno is the Nits' quarterbacks coach and JoePa's son. He is a fan of Twitter, the 140-character way of keeping in touch.

"I started Twittering a while ago. We all did, except Joe," Jay admitted.

Jay Paterno sent this recent Tweet: "Finished speaking to all the PSU Freshmen . . . they are locked in, loud & ready to go. The #1 Student section in America has a bright future."

Of course, that is not to say JoePa's mostly veteran coaching staff stays in contact with potential recruits via Pony Express and carrier pigeons. It's just that the head man designates responsibility for keeping up with any technological advances to staff members, whose job description requires them to provide periodic updates on what's happening in cyberworld.

"He's in a position where he doesn't have to look at technology the way the rest of us do," Jay Paterno, 40, said of his father's resistance to the Internet age. "He doesn't have to come down off the mountain to communicate with anybody. Everybody kind of goes to him."

But they do go up the mountain, bearing information gleaned from resources that the young JoePa - remember, this is his 44th season as head coach and 60th season in Happy Valley - once would have considered as far out as a Buck Rogers comic strip.

"Really, he looks at technology the same way I do," Jay said. "He's just not going to use it himself. He can play dumb like a fox. He says, 'I don't know what Twitter is, I don't know what social-networking is,' but he's very aware of what it does, how it connects and how it can be used to promote our program. He's pushed us all in that direction."

All of Penn State's assistant coaches, even the grizzled veterans who have been around nearly as long as Joe, know how to use Twitter.

Not that the younger Paterno advocates the usage of every new gizmo that comes onto the market.

"I'm interested in what's coming out, but not so much so that I tell Joe, 'We need to jump into this.' The big mistake some guys make is that every time something new comes along, they feel they have to immediately jump on board. You spend all that money on new technology and sometimes find out it really doesn't do what you thought it would.

"Our approach is to see how something works. We demo it, get a feel for what it can do. If it's valuable, we'll take a longer look at it. But there's always so much stuff out there. You can get all this information, but how much can you actually process during game week? We're at a point now where we're almost at an information overload."

And if that's true for coaches, it's also true for teenaged recruits.

"Once you get into Facebook and Twitter, people have access to you," Jay said. "All of a sudden, a kid in high school finds out he has all these alumni 'friends' from this and that college. It can be too much for a high-profile recruit. There's a fine line there." *