Joe Paterno Hopes to Add “Somebody from the East” to the Big Ten and Thinks the “Future is 16 Teams”May 27, 2010 – 12:00 pm by Paul Bessire
It’s going to happen. The only question is who. The Big Ten (actually 11) is going to become the Big Ten (actually 12) – and it may eventually be the Big Ten (actually 16). Which team or teams has been in hot debate recently. Texas? Missouri? Nebraska? Iowa State? Pitt? Cincinnati? Rutgers? Those are just some of the names kicked around, but few people know which schools are actually being discussed.
I’ve already done my take on Step 1 of this process, but that’s probably of far less value to the decision makers the voice of the conference’s newest member, who also happens to be the game’s oldest and greatest living legend. At 83 years old, Joe Paterno is not sitting around reminiscing on the good old days. He’s thinking forward to playing Alabama and to what is best for the Big Ten. To him, the future will include just a few 16-team super conferences and that should start with the Big Ten adding member(s) from his neck of the woods.
Joe Paterno joined 93.7 the Fan in Pittsburgh with Paul Alexander, Jon Burton and Jim Colony to talk about Big Ten expansion, the future of college football, playing Pitt, his health, and what motivates him.
On Big Ten expansion:
“I think the Big Ten is right on the verge of making a key decision whether we will expand. I think we should expand, but that’s up to other people. Take for instance, we played Southern Cal two years ago in the Rose Bowl, one of the BCS bowls. We’re sitting around at home and Southern Cal played two games after we were through… With the kind of programs we have, the kind of universities, there’s got to be a couple schools out there that would have to be an asset to us and, obviously, it would be an advantage to them if we decide to go to it. I don’t think it’s fair for me to say which ones, but I hope we get somebody from the East to get the New York and New Jersey television markets… The Big Ten is not a coaches’ conference as far as setting rules and goals for the conference and so forth. We’ve talked around as coaches and we’ve discussed it. Different coaches want different people. I couldn’t really tell you that I’m going to bat for anybody.”
On if a 12 team or 16 team conference is best:
“I think the future is probably going to be 16-team conferences. I think that probably will be the future because of the television markets and the chances to have meaningful conference championship games.”
On whether he would consider playing Pitt every year:
“We don’t make any money on anything but football, so we have to have that seventh home game. If you do that, it makes it tougher to do a home and home… There’s a lot that goes into it. I miss the Pitt game.”
On what motivates him:
“One thing about coaching football is that literally every season is a different one. It’s a challenge. I wake up in the morning trying to figure out who is going to play where, what we are are going to do and how we are going to do it. It’s exciting because, when I go in, we meet with the staff who have disagreements. I’d better be prepared because I have ideas about what we are going to do with different people. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to keep this staff together for a long time so we can banter back and forth and have a little fun and still keep in mind the fact that we have be a good football team pretty quick. We have to go down to Alabama to play the national champions in the second week… I like the excitement of it. I like the challenge of it. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. I’m not a golfer. I don’t fish.”
And on how he is feeling:
“I’m good, good. I had a little setback when I had to pass up the Nittany Lion Club thing in Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago, but, in a couple days I was good. I’ve been feeling good and trying to make a living. You just do what you got to do.”