STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The 46-year-old coach of one team in the Outback Bowl is resigning after the game. The almost-84-year-old coach of the other team is coming back for his 46th season.
Naturally, with a scenario like that, the matter of when Penn State's Joe Paterno will retire came up Friday for what seems like the bazillionth time.
Actually, no specific question like that was asked during the Nittany Lions' bowl media day at the Lasch Football Complex. But when a reporter asked Paterno if it bothered him to be asked about retirement so much, the coach pounced.
"Get off that thing, will you, for God's sakes?" he said. "How many times can I answer the same question? I must have answered that question 50 times [Thursday in Tampa]. I've told you, I have not given it any thought. It does not bother me. It bothers you guys.
"I want to go down there and have a good football game, period. Can't you get that through your head? Right now, that's the only thing I'm thinking about."
Paterno has a cold, and his voice was extremely raspy after Thursday's media day in Tampa for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl where, a team spokesman said, he did almost two straight hours of interviews. But he got his point across.
Paterno, who will celebrate his 84th birthday Dec. 21, said he was "up in the middle of the night" watching tapes of Florida and called Gators coach Urban Meyer "one of the great coaches of the last 25 years."
"He is so innovative," he said, "that almost every football game I've seen them play, they have started the game in a way that they are going to try to control the tempo, the way the game is going to be played. . . . I haven't got time for that other [retirement] nonsense."
Paterno, who announced Nov. 23 that he would return in 2011, said he has not talked to athletic director Tim Curley or university president Graham Spanier since then.
"I talked to my football team about getting ready to play a good football game," he said. "I haven't even thought about that. You guys are the ones who are talking about that and thinking about that. You're ready to bury me. We've got to play a tough football team."
Meyer announced Wednesday he would step down as head coach after the Outback Bowl because of the stress of the job, and because he wants to spend more time with his family. The irony of the news that the younger guy wants out and the older guy wants to keep going wasn't lost on the Nittany Lions.
"It is ironic," offensive tackle Quinn Barham said. "He has his personal reasons for stepping down, but I commend Coach Joe for staying in it. He reached 400, 401 this year, so I respect him for that. I hope Coach Meyer is OK. I hope he can still coach. I have nothing but respect for what he did."
"It's unfortunate to feel a need to step down," quarterback Matt McGloin said. "Coach Meyer has obviously done a great job down there, he's won a couple of national titles. It's his decision, but I'm just glad that Coach Paterno is still around."
However, tailback Evan Royster, who will be playing his final game for Penn State, said some players were not completely convinced that Paterno will be back.
"Even though Joe said he's going to come back for another year, we don't know for sure," Royster said. "It's exciting for us to play like it's his last game. I think that's the mind-set of a lot of us."
Paterno said he felt Meyer was entitled to resign if that's what he wants to do.
"When I was Urban's age, I had a couple of opportunities to leave and do some other things," he said. "But when I was his age, I was just a short, little Italian with a long nose and I didn't have a lot of opportunities.
"He's a big, good-looking guy. He's really a good family man. He's got a lot of things he can do. He's making some decisions which I'm sure are not easy for him. But he's making them, and I admire him and I respect him for what he's doing."