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Penn State Vs. Florida: Paterno Meets With Tampa Press, Anxious For Game

With debate swirling around the Internet and some print media, Joe Paterno is only concerned about one thing during the weeks before the Outback Bowl: bringing home another bowl win. Paterno, whose 24 bowl wins rank first all-time, met with the Tampa press yesterday.

"I hope Santa shows up, but not on Christmas Eve," Paterno quipped. "I hope he shows up on January 1st."

Paterno and the Nittany Lion players and staff arrived in Tampa for Outback Bowl preparations this week, though the trip got off to a rocky start. According to multiple players, their plane was involved in some sort of minor runway collision which ended up breaking the wing of the team plane. No word on the seriousness of the event, but all team members arrived safely in sunny Florida (projected high for today is 67, better than the 32 degree weather State College is expected to see).

Also this week, Paterno celebrated his 84th birthday, though the event passed without much fanfare.

"We had a birthday cake," Paterno said. "The kids sang happy birthday. I ate the cake, but I didn't need it. It was a nice day. I've had enough birthdays"

While the on-field preparations heat up for the Jan. 1 showdown with Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators, the off-the-field rumor mill is in full force this bowl season. Rumors, reports, and speculation fly as multiple members of the Penn State coaching staff have been receiving interest from other universities regarding vacant coaching positions. Further rumors are being spread about the future of Paterno and the current state of his health.

Will the Outback Bowl be Joe Paterno's last game? That remains to be seen, but every Penn State fan should be confident that the team will be prepped well and ready to play. What we do know is that this will be the last game for the eleven seniors on the team, including OL Stefen Wisniewski, RB Evan Royster, WR Graham Zug, and K Collin Wagner.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.