Instead, the Nittany Lions will have, well, a coach with a slick new hip in '09. Joe Paterno, major college football's all-time wins leader, had hip replacement surgery in late November.
He said he emerged from the procedure feeling “great,” and even though his contact was set to expire following the 2008 campaign, he felt he could still coach “for a while.”
It is going to happen.
FightOnState.com has learned from several university sources that Paterno and Penn State have agreed in principle to a multi-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the Nittany Lion football program for at least three more seasons. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The deal is expected to be signed and announced by the end of the week.
Paterno, who turns 82 Dec. 21, guided Penn State to an 11-1 regular season in 2009. The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions, who are 40-10 overall the past four years, face No. 5 USC in the Rose Bowl New Year's Day.
Paterno enters that game with a career record of 383-126-3, dating back to the 1966 season. He has been a member of the Penn State staff since becoming an assistant coach to Rip Engle in 1950.
Florida State's Bobby Bowden has 381 career victories.
At Penn State's Rose Bowl Media Day last Friday, Paterno was asked if he hoped to have an extension in place before facing the Trojans in Pasadena.
“The university will be fair to me,” Paterno said. “… If we can work something out that they are comfortable with and that I am comfortable with before the bowl, fine.”
He added that he felt he would have time to meet with school president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley this week, as the Lions are in the middle of finals and not practicing.
Paterno spent most of the 2008 regular season coaching from the press box due to a hip injury. He had the hip surgically replaced the day after the regular-season finale against Michigan State.
"I feel great, I really do," he said at Rose Bowl Media Day Friday.
Stay tuned for more on this story as it develops.