Don't be surprised if Joe Pa breaks out the poms poms for Penn State's next football game.
Many in the college football world have assumed that Penn State's legendary octogenarian football coach has become less involved in the coaching of the Nittany Lions in recent years but it was still a surprise to hear exactly how hands-off Paterno has become.
When asked during a press conference how involved he is with the offensive play-calling this year compared to previous seasons, Paterno's response was surprisingly frank and candid.
Galen [Hall] and Jay [Paterno] call most of the offensive plays. Once in a while I'll grab [Offensive Receivers Coach] Mike McQueary and just say 'Hey Mike, tell them I want this.'...But I don't do a lot of play calling. I'm a cheerleader.
Paterno, by all indications, may be the highest paid cheerleader in history, earning more than $1 million in total compensation in 2010, according to the Associated Press.
Even in his capacity as a cheerleader, it seems that Paterno has had trouble motivating his underachieving squad in recent years. Although Penn State is 4-1 to start this season, their lone loss coming against Alabama, the team has struggled to close out opponents that in past seasons they likely would have blown out. Penn State who began the season ranked in the AP Top 25, had to hold off lowly Indiana for a 16-10 victory last weekend. Two weeks before, they needed a late fourth quarter touchdown to overcome traditional Pennsylvania football whipping boy Temple.
In recent years, many have called for the retirement of the all-time winningest coach in division I-A football history citing his age and several injuries he has suffered while patrolling the sidelines during practices and games -- forcing him to often watch the proceedings from the press box in recent years.
In early September Sports Illustrated's Paul Finebaum appealed for Paterno to step down, writing "It's not too late [for Joe Paterno] to salvage some dignity."
Describing himself as a cheerleader is probably not what Finebaum had in mind for Paterno.
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