Joe Paterno either knows something no one at Penn State will confirm, or he does not know the old adage that one shouldn't make promises he can't keep.
Players recruited by the Nittany Lions are being assured that when Paterno retires, his replacement will come from the current coaching staff rather than an outside hire.
''Mr. Paterno told me himself that his replacement is already within the staff, so he'll just bring one new guy in and bump everybody up in the ranks,'' linebacker Mike Yancich from Washington, Pa., said.
Mirror file photo
The person who eventually replaces Joe Paterno is expected to be a member of the Penn State coaching staff.
Those words apparently can make quite an impact on a youngster.
''Coaching stability is not going to be any big deal at Penn State,'' Yancich said.
That's news to some, as Paterno's contract expires at the end of this season. He wants to coach a few more years, but the university has made no public statements guaranteeing the legendary figure will be back in 2009.
With no succession plan in place - or at least announced - many people have started to believe PSU President Graham Spanier would like to conduct a national search. Spanier has done his best to avoid questions about potential succession plans.
''I wouldn't want to speculate about it,'' he said earlier this year.
Fightonstate.com recruiting reporter Cory James speaks frequently with every Penn State recruit and confirmed Yancich's comments about coaching promises.
''They tell the recruits that the next coach will come from within and the program won't change while they're there,'' James said. ''Every kid I've talked to, that's 100 percent the answer that Penn State has said.
''I've even heard a few of them say [the university] doesn't want to put anything in formal writing with any of the assistant coaches, but it could be because they want Joe to go out on his own terms. And if he decided to retire tomorrow or he decided to retire in five years, at least the coaches are telling recruits the administration doesn't want to put a timeline on Joe.''
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.