Joe Paterno says he plans to return as Penn State coach next season, putting an end to any speculation about retirement.
The Nittany Lions meet No. 11 Michigan State in the regular-season finale on Saturday, leading some fans and writers to wonder if this would be the 83-year-old coach's last appearance at Beaver Stadium.
JoePa said his team has struggled at times this year because of youth and injuries, but that the Nittany Lions have a chance to be good next year.
"I'm looking forward to it. … We've struggled a little bit this year, the youth and the injuries and the whole bit," Paterno said Tuesday at his weekly news conference at Beaver Stadium. "But I think with a good spring and preseason practice … We're going to be a good football team, and I'd like to [be] part of it."
Paterno appears healthier now after offseason illnesses slowed him down. The 2011 season would be the last year of a three-year extension signed in 2008.
Quarterback Matt McGloin said he thought Paterno could go even a couple more years. Linebacker Chris Colasanti said he he wasn't surprised JoePa was returning.
"He's still vocal and energetic on the field," Colasanti said. "He still loves to come out and coach, be vocal. … He has fun with it, we see that and we feed off of that."
Speculation about Paterno's future has been a constant end-of-the-season topic for years. It ramped up this season with Paterno's summer illness and struggles at midseason that kept the team out of the Big Ten title hunt.
In Happy Valley, a 7-4 record is considered a disappointment. The first question asked of Paterno on Tuesday was whether he planned to return.
"Yeah, why you know something I don't know," he quipped.