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Paterno still obviously enjoying college football

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — As his press conference ended at the Universal Orlando City Walk, coach Joe Paterno regarded the assembled media with a mischievous smile.
“If there’s anything I can do, call,” Paterno said, “and I’ll probably tell you no.”
Two weeks ago, Paterno said bowl games were fun for the players, but all work for him and his staff. Don’t let him fool you.
Paterno, who has coached 37 seasons at Penn State, has been asked numerous times why he hasn’t retired. His answer: What else would he do?
Wednesday’s Capital One Bowl, pitting Paterno’s 10th-ranked Nittany Lions (9-3) against No. 19 Auburn (8-4), is just one more chance for Paterno to do what he loves — coach.
“He’s obviously Mr. College Football, a guy who’s still got more energy that any of us, and enjoys it — he enjoys it more and more every year,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said.
For Paterno, a bowl game is a chance to spend more time teaching his players the fundamentals he likes to emphasize, a chance to reinforce the message that hard work and dedication inevitably will pay off.
“I think we’re all in coaching to stay young, because you deal with young people,” Tuberville said. “And I think for him coaching, dealing with young people, keeps him feeling young, and I hope I can have that same attitude and energy that he has when I’ve coached a few more years.”
It’s a wonder Paterno is still at it. Paterno, who arrived at Penn State in 1950 as an assistant to coach Rip Engle, turned 76 last week. And even though his 336 career wins and 20 bowl wins are more than any other major college coach, rival recruiters have been predicting Paterno’s departure for decades.
“I definitely remember when I was a senior in high school, going around the country to Nebraska, Florida State, Miami, and people were like, ’There’s no way … Joe’s going to last,”’ Penn State defensive end Michael Haynes said. “Here it is five years later, Miami has a new coach, Nebraska has a new coach. Bobby Bowden’s still there, but all the other schools I was looking at, Michigan State, all of them have new coaches now.”
Perhaps that’s because Paterno — while continuing to emphasize the basics — has been willing to reinvent himself as a coach. Two years ago, with Rashard Casey at quarterback, Paterno embraced the shotgun in order to take advantage of Casey’s mobility.
Last year and during the early part of this season, Paterno spread out the offense and quarterback Zack Mills set numerous Penn State passing records. When defenses responded, Paterno went back to the run and tailback Larry Johnson set three single-game rushing records, becoming the first Penn State back to rush for 2,000 yards.
Even here, even with a career record in bowl games of 20-9-1, Paterno is looking to learn from Tuberville, his (relatively young) opponent.
“To be frank with you, I said to him, ’I want to talk to you about how you handle your bowl preparations,’ because he got his staff together for a couple days without the kids being there, and they got a lot of work done,” Paterno said. “I want to talk to him about that.”
It’s that attitude — and the energy to chase officials halfway across the field to protest a call — that continues to surprise those outside the program.
But to his players, nothing has changed.
“He’s still the same old Joe,” defensive tackle Anthony Adams said.