STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno plans to return as Penn State coach next season, ending the latest round of retirement speculation.
The Nittany Lions meet No. 11 Michigan State in the regular-season finale Saturday, and some fans and members of the media were wondering if this would be the 83-year-old Hall of Famer's final appearance at Beaver Stadium. Illness slowed him in the offseason, and the Nittany Lions' midseason stumbles had some fans griping for change.
The rumor mill churned anew in recent weeks, but major college football's winningest coach said Tuesday at Beaver Stadium that he hadn't even given thought to leaving a job he's held a record 45 seasons.
"I had no intentions — and I've never indicated to anybody, including myself — that I was not coming back," he said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "No, it's always been in my mind that now is not the time to go. I think we've got a good young team. They may not be there yet, but they will be soon."
Paterno turns 84 on Dec. 21.
"Joe Paterno publicly confirms what we suspected all along — he will be back coaching Penn State in 2011," son and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno posted on his Twitter account.
Speculating about Paterno's future is an end-of-season ritual in Happy Valley. The 2011 season would be the last year of a three-year contract extension signed in late 2008.
When asked, Paterno said returning was "entirely my call. … But I would hope that what I want to do would be taken into consideration and go from there."
More trouble for Irish
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — St. Joseph County prosecuting attorney Michael A. Dvorak said Monday that his office is reviewing a report from the Notre Dame campus police about an alleged case of sexual battery Aug. 31.
The accuser, a St. Mary's College student, said her assailant was an Irish football player, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday. The woman subsequently died Sept. 10. The Tribune, citing the sheriff's office, said the cause was a suspected drug overdose.
Notre Dame, citing privacy laws, has not commented specifically on the allegation, and St. Mary's has not provided details of the woman's death.
Auburn: Left tackle Lee Ziemba will make his 50th start in a row for the second-ranked Tigers on Friday at No. 9 Alabama. That will break Will Herring's school career starts mark.
Ball State: The Cardinals fired coach Stan Parrish a few days after finishing the season 4-8. Parrish stepped in for Brady Hoke in the GMAC Bowl after the 2008 season, then went 2-10 the next season before this year ended with a 59-21 loss to Northern Illinois.
Clemson: Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said he will worry about the head coaching job at Furman after the Tigers finish the season against South Carolina. Napier said he hasn't talked with any Furman officials, who are looking for a replacement for Bobby Lamb, who resigned last week. Napier was a quarterback at Furman from 1999 to 2002.
Georgia: Quarterback Aaron Murray, a former Plant High standout, said he has been "pretty much pain-free" and will start against Georgia Tech. Murray had a bruised left knee and bruised sternum in a Nov. 13 loss to Auburn.
Rutgers: Paralyzed defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, 20, was taken off a ventilator and is able to breathe on his own, the school said in a statement. LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down Oct. 16, making a tackle on a kickoff return. LeGrand's injury was recently reclassified from a complete spinal cord injury to an incomplete spinal cord injury.
USC: Quarterback Matt Barkley watched practice on crutches with his sprained left ankle in a walking boot, but he still hopes to play Saturday against Notre Dame. Coach Lane Kiffin said he wouldn't hesitate to play Barkley if he's healthy, even if the quarterback misses the entire week of practice. Mitch Mustain is the backup.
Swimming: Florida State upset fourth-ranked Florida, the women scoring a 187-113 win, and the 20th-ranked men topped the Gators 184-116 in Tallahassee. "Ever since I've been here we've wanted to beat them, and this is a perfect way to top off my senior year," said C.J. Hendry, who won the women's 200 fly and was part of the winning 200 medley relay.