TAMPA - Backup quarterback Kevin Newsome apparently is going.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley apparently is staying.
And Bradley's boss? He insists he isn't going anywhere, either.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who turned 84 on Dec. 21, last month revealed his intention to return for a 46th season, fulfilling the third year of a 3-year contract extension he signed in 2008.
That should have been the end of any speculation about his immediate future. But it wasn't. Rumors have continued to swirl that Paterno's insistence that he will return is merely a smokescreen, that the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against Florida will be his farewell, either by his choice or not, to a program he has been associated with since 1950, and since 1966 as head coach.
At yesterday's joint news conference with Florida coach Urban Meyer, who will be coaching his last game with the Gators, Paterno firmly reiterated that he'll be back at Penn State for the 2011 season.
"I'm different than Urban," Paterno joked. "I've got people calling me saying, 'When the hell are you getting out?' ''
Media members, particularly those from Florida unfamiliar with Paterno's self-deprecating humor, chuckled. But some skeptics insist that Paterno, who seemed reasonably robust, is more ill than he or Penn State officials are letting on, and that a possible successor could come from a high-profile type, ranging from Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, a Drexel Hill native and former Florida offensive coordinator.
"People think I'm going to quit this year or next year. I haven't even thought of it," Paterno said. "The situation around me is very stable. The athletic director [Tim Curley] was a kid I recruited as a walk-on. The school president [Dr. Graham Spanier] has been with us maybe 14, 15 years. We have a lot of fun together. I don't see any reason to get out."
Paterno's disinclination to step aside might explain why the ultra-loyal Bradley, a former Lion who has been on JoePa's staff since 1980, was interested in the Temple head coaching position that last week went to Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio.
"I said, 'Can I help you with the Temple job?' '' Paterno said of Bradley's desire to replace Al Golden, another former Penn State player and assistant who took the top spot at Miami. "Tommy does a good job for us, obviously. It's easier for me if he stays. But I don't want to get to a point where I'm interfering with someone who might want to run his own program. If he really wanted the job and didn't get it, I'd feel maybe I could have done a little bit more for him."
Newsome, the projected 2010 starter, did not make the trip here, an almost certain indication he will transfer. A sophomore, he would have been third on the depth chart for the bowl game behind redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin and true freshman Rob Bolden.
"He's not with us," Paterno said. He added that the two had not spoken about Newsome seeking a release from his grant-in-aid.
Florida assistant ailing
Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was treated for abdominal pains at a Tampa hospital and his status for Saturday's Outback Bowl against Penn State is uncertain. *