With the news element of Joe Paterno's injury during preseason practice on Sunday quickly fading, analysts are beginning to question what impact the situation might have on the legendary coach moving forward.â†µ
The Altoona Mirror's Neil Rudel says the injury puts a cloud over Paterno and wonders how close he should be to the sideline at his age.â†µ
There's a reason no one else coaches into their 80s, and it's fair to ask whether it's safe for an 84-year-old, even one as extraordinarily determined as Joe Paterno, to be in the middle of a football practice or game.â†µ
Sunday's injury reinforces that answer.â†µ
BWI's Nate Bauer wonders how effectively Paterno can lead the Nittany Lions if his health dogs him in 2011.â†µ
Still, a season ago, Paterno was admittedly more disengaged than usual because of his illness, and the consequences were evident in the team's obvious lack of leadership and disappointing 7-6 finish.â†µ
This preseason, Paterno had seemingly righted those wrongs, taking command of the squad and more or less running roughshod over the squad in its first weekend back in action. All indications were that this was vintage Paterno, maybe not as good as ever, but certainly with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose.
Whether he can maintain or regain that spirit is just another unknown at this point, and whether these Nittany Lions can overcome any adversity that Paterno's latest setback brings must also be called into question.
Paterno has said he's "fine," and that people shouldn't worry about him in a statement, but until the press gets a good long look at him, expect more questions like these from the media. It's hard to call Penn State's upcoming media day "big" for the coach, given how bland and generally cliche-laden the event is, but if he comes off to those in attendance as rattled and disengaged, these whispers about his future will quickly turn into shouts. If Paterno is going to take the focus off of himself and put it back on the football team, he's going to have to turn up the charm and win the room.â†µ