Mrs. Paterno says Joe's health is 'fine'

Updated: December 28, 2010, 4:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Penn State coach Joe Paterno's wife dismissed as "lies" speculation that her husband's health would serve as a reason for him to resign from the job he has held for 45 years.

"Who started the crazy rumors?" Sue Paterno said, as quoted by website PennState.Scout.com. "He's fine. No one has to identify who starts it. We don't even know where it starts."

She was referring to Internet reports asserting that her 84-year-old husband's health is failing and that the Nittany Lions coach would step down after Saturday's Outback Bowl game against Florida.

She emphatically squelched speculation that his resignation is imminent, saying: "It's just lies."

"I mean, he's [supposedly] in the hospital when he's sitting at the table for dinner. He wasn't even near the hospital," she told PennState.Scout.com on Monday at the Outback Bowl's Ladies Luncheon in Tampa, Fla.

Daughter Mary Kay Hort, for her part, also denied the rumors, firmly ruling out suggestions that her father might resign for health reasons.

Asked whether he planned to call it quits after the Outback Bowl, she said: "It is not his planned last game."

Paterno is wrapping up his record 45th season on the sideline and is under contract through the 2011 season, but this hasn't stopped rumors from flying -- yet again -- that his resignation is imminent.

"Everybody's been saying he's going to retire," Hort told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Someday, somebody might get it right."

Paterno, major college football's winningest coach, said last week he is looking at the Outback Bowl as a combination of this season's final game and the opener of the 2011 campaign.

"We've got a very young team," a spry-looking Paterno said. "We've got about 60 kids here that are freshmen and sophomores. Some of them are pretty good athletes that need some work. So I think in that sense, you're hoping that you can get some things developed that are going to carry over to next year. But no matter what, you've got to play a team like Florida, you ought to try and win."

Paterno last week was named the 2011 recipient of the NCAA's Gerald R. Ford Award, which lauds leading advocates of intercollegiate athletics.

"For me, coach Paterno is the definitive role model of what it means to be a college coach," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. Paterno is scheduled to receive the award at the NCAA convention Jan. 13 in San Antonio.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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