TAMPA - Penn State athletic director Tim Curley said that he plans to meet with coach Joe Paterno sometime in January, but that the subject matter will be standard end-of-the-season stuff. Curley indicated that he fully expects the 84-year-old Paterno to return in 2011 for his 46th season, and that all the rumors of JoePa's stepping aside by his or someone else's choice are nothing more than groundless speculation.
"We're focused this week on getting another bowl win, and the prospects of a good, young team coming back next year for Joe and his staff," Curley said yesterday at an Outback Bowl luncheon at the Tampa Convention Center attended by players and coaches for the Nittany Lions and Florida Gators.
Yeah, but all those tales of secret meetings and backroom planning . . . surely Curley hears much of what everyone else is hearing, whether any of it has a basis in fact or not.
"Our people keep me up to date, and I try somewhat to stay on top of things," Curley said. "But I don't want to spend all my time tracking that stuff down. It is what it is. I've got a lot of other things to spend my attention and energies on."
Someday, though, Paterno won't be there, and Curley will have to spend a considerable amount of his attention and energies to whatever comes after. Has he formulated a preliminary plan for when that day arrives? Or, when it happens, will he start from scratch?
"I'm not going to get into hypotheticals," Curley said. "Whenever the time comes, we'll address it. Until then, we're going to enjoy what we're here to do."
Penn State and Florida players were presented with gift bags from the Outback Bowl committee that included gift certificates to a chain electronic store and chain restaurant, caps and, best of all, a keepsake watch.
Derek Moye, the Nittany Lions' junior wide receiver, said that he already has a perfectly good watch and that he would give the keepsake to a family member. But he knows, if he tried, he could fetch a good price for selling it to an alumnus or booster. He also knows he could be suspended for such a transaction, as five Ohio State players - including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor - were for the first five games of the 2011 season for trading Buckeyes memorabilia for free tattoos.
"I definitely think some action should be taken against [the Ohio State players], but maybe not five games," Moye said. "That seems kind of extreme."
Moye, who filed paperwork with the NFL to determine what his draft status might be if he came out early, hasn't heard back from the league. Moye, who leads Penn State with 48 receptions this season and now has 99 for his career in Happy Valley, expects to return for his senior campaign.
"Without a doubt, I'm coming back," he said. "I might not if they said I was going in the first round, but I don't anticipate that."
Not that Moye wouldn't mind cashing an NFL paycheck, or any paycheck for that matter.
"At times some [players] don't have very much money," he said. "We're definitely grateful to be on scholarship, but at the same time any extra money would be helpful. I'm fortunate now, because my brother has a job, and he can help me out a little bit more, but last year there were times when I had $25 or $50 in my bank account and I had to make it last for a month."
Senior middle linebacker Chris Colasanti made the most of his one and only season as a starter, leading Penn State with 102 total tackles, including 18 against Illinois, tied for most by a Big Ten Conference player this season.
But Colasanti is widely viewed as a marginal NFL prospect, although he will train with an eye to being drafted or sticking with a team as an undrafted free agent. Fortunately for Colasanti, one of three Nittany Lions to be named an academic All-America, he has a backup plan: medical school and a career as a surgeon in the sports-medicine field.