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Penn State
Football: Paterno says no apology needed

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

By Ray Fittipaldo, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno made no apologies yesterday for grabbing the shirt of an official after the 42-35 loss against Iowa, a reaction to a couple of questionable calls in overtime that could have changed the outcome of the game.

After Penn State's fourth-down pass fell incomplete, Paterno sprinted toward the tunnel leading to the locker room facilities, grabbed referee Dick Honig by the back of his shirt and voiced his opinion about the two calls that went in Iowa's favor.

"Why should I regret it?" Paterno asked. "What did I do? I did not make contact with him. I just tried to stop him because he was running ahead of me. I was running into the locker room and grabbed him by the shirt and said, 'Hey, Dick, you had two lousy calls.' I said two guys on the other side of the field had two lousy calls. I am not allowed to do that?

"I just stopped him to make sure he knew that I was behind him. I didn't want to knock him over. He is a good official. My gripe wasn't with him. My gripe was to make sure he understood that I thought there were a couple of guys who made bad calls. It's been blown way out of proportion, and I think Dick would tell you the same thing."

Honig told Big Ten officials supervisor Dave Parry that Paterno did not do anything that crossed the line, and neither the Big Ten Conference nor the university has any plans to reprimand Paterno.

The two calls in question came in the overtime period. On a first-and-15 play, Iowa receiver Maurice Brown did not appear to have control of a reception before falling out of bounds at the 19, but the line judge called it a good catch. The Hawkeyes went on to score four plays later.

On Penn State's possession, Tony Johnson was ruled out of bounds at the 2 after tip-toeing the sidelines on a second down play from the 11. The line judge ruled he did not have control of the pass.

When asked to revisit the calls yesterday, Paterno declined.

"I'm not going to get into the officiating," Paterno said. "Very rarely have I griped about officials. I've never blamed officials for losing a game or what have you, so I don't want to get into that now."

Despite what transpired against Iowa, Paterno is not in favor of using instant replay to overturn botched calls. The topic has been stoked again this season by Illinois Coach Ron Turner, long an outspoken advocate of a replay system.

Paterno said he is not inclined to support a replay resolution anytime in the future.

"I've never been a big guy for replays. I am still not for it," he said. "Officials have a tough job. In the heat of the battle, you will blow your stack once in a while. If they hustle, are in good position and it's bang, bang, they are going to make some mistakes.

"When I do watch a pro game and see the officials stick their head in whatever they call that thing, I say to myself, the games are long enough, and sometimes I'm not even sure they can make a decision when they look at the replay. I don't know what it would do for us. Unless someone can prove to me that it would change our game for the better, I would rather not do it. I would rather stick with what we have."

Coaches have an opportunity to grade officials after every game. Paterno said the only time he gives officials bad grades are when they're aren't hustling or out of shape and miss a call. He did not say whether the line judge was loafing or out of shape yesterday. There were other blown calls in the game, including a call that negated a fumble return by Iowa that would have made the score 30-0 in the second quarter.

Paterno might have been steamed about the officiating after the game, but his players felt the brunt of a verbal assault Monday at a team meeting. Paterno confronted the team about some of their comments after the game.

Senior defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and a few other players lashed out, scolding younger players for not being ready to play the game. Kennedy also confronted Paterno through reporters, telling his coach to stop questioning the leadership of the team.

"He was angry," senior center Joe Iorio said. "He said he didn't read the article, but that he received a lot of outside feedback. People were upset with what [Kennedy] had said. He wanted everyone to learn from the ordeal.

"He kind of addressed Jimmy Kennedy. Jimmy Kennedy made a few comments to someone in the media that we weren't showing a lot of emotion on the sidelines. Joe said no one is playing good enough ball that they can begin to finger-point. We all have to take the responsibility of a win and a loss."

Said Paterno: "I said I hope we can all stick together. We all got licked together. The worst thing you can do is point fingers."

The Nittany Lions will try to regroup this week at Wisconsin, which is 5-0 and leads the conference with 16 forced turnovers. The Badgers are one of 12 teams in Division I-A without a loss.

NOTES -- Paterno said OLB Deryck Toles is doubtful with an ankle injury as is MLB Sam Ruhe with a neck injury. ... Paterno said he didn't know if freshman S Calvin Lowry would be eligible for a medical redshirt. Lowry's tibia in his right leg was fractured against Iowa. ... Paterno indicated that LB Tim Johnson, who has been out with back problems, could get a chance to play this week at inside linebacker. ... Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez said it will be a game-time decision as to whether WR Lee Evans will play in the game. Evans has missed the first five games because of a knee injury in spring practice. ... The game at Michigan next week will be at 3:30 p.m. and will be an ABC regional telecast.

Ray Fittipaldo can be reached at rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1230.

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