AUSTIN, Texas - Penn State coach Joe Paterno shrugged off a medical scare and said Friday that he feels fine after going to the hospital this week to be treated for dehydration.
He even suggested he’d like to keep coaching longer.
“Realistically, at my age, if I go three, four, five (more) years, that would be great,” Paterno said.
The 81-year-old Hall of Fame coach went to the hospital for several hours Thursday, then flew to Austin on Friday to attend a dinner at the University of Texas to support an endowed chair in global affairs named after Longhorns coach Mack Brown.
Before the dinner, Paterno cracked jokes with reporters about how his age makes people worry every time he feels the slightest bit ill.
“Yesterday I didn’t think this event was getting enough press. I decided to go to the hospital and see if I could spruce it up a bit,” Paterno said. “I feel good.”
Paterno had been working at home late in the morning Thursday when he began feeling nauseated. He said his family doctor told him to go to the hospital as a precaution and he was taken by ambulance to Mount Nittany Medical Center. Paterno had tests at the hospital but was not admitted and was back home by Thursday evening.
“I’m not a kid anymore. The minute you don’t feel good, people get nervous. They took me over to the hospital. I said ’What in God’s name am I going to do over there? I feel good,”’ Paterno said.
Paterno said the hospital conducted myriad tests to be sure.
“I got CAT scans, I had sonics, I had a stress test. They gave me all the things,” Paterno said.
Brown said he called Paterno on Thursday and told him to “drink more water.”
Paterno is about to embark on his record 43rd season as head coach. With 372 career wins, he’s second to Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (373) among major college coaches.
Questions about Paterno’s health and age have dogged him for years, but he has repeatedly downplayed the issues.
His contract is up after this season, though school president Graham Spanier has said that a contract isn’t necessary in order for Paterno to continue working. They have agreed to revisit the issue at the end of the season during their annual offseason meetings.
“I feel good. I think I’ve got a pretty good football team that, if I don’t screw it up, could win a couple of games. I’m enjoying it,” Paterno said.
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