If you subscribe to Internet message board fodder, today is Joe Paterno's final game at Beaver Stadium, and he'll announce his retirement afterward.
I'm not buying it.
Even if it's JoePa's final home game - certainly possible but from this view doubtful - it would be absolutely shocking if he confirms it today.
Paterno will be 82 next month, and he's scheduled for hip-replacement surgery, perhaps as soon as Sunday.
That combination - whether he'll be healthy enough to recruit this winter or preside over spring practice - puts his coaching career in jeopardy.
It's also possible that depending how the next two games play out, he could feel now is as good a time as any to walk away. Moreover, he'll have a great team returning in 2009, and he always said he wanted to leave "some meat on the bone," to his successor, just as Rip Engle did for him.
Michigan State (9-2) at Penn State (10-1)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
Updated PSU injury/status report: Joe Paterno will again coach from the press box. DE Josh Gaines (ankle) is probable.
That's one scenario.
Another is that based on this season, he figures all is well, that the program is back on autopilot, and he'll ride it as long as he can, especially once he has surgery.
Either way, these are more likely December or post-bowl considerations.
For Paterno to announce that today is it would fly in the face of everything he's stood for - that nothing should take away from the team or the game.
With a share of the Big Ten title on the line and a chance to clinch a Rose Bowl bid, Paterno would not and should not orchestrate a post-game announcement on Senior Day.
Nor does it make sense relative to his staff, which Paterno raves about and is constantly trying to position into whatever succession plan he may endorse.
Announce a retirement today, albeit effective after a bowl game, and the staff is totally exposed. If Paterno waits until the spring or beyond, and finds that his hip is not responding, then he may surrender. At that point, it would be more likely an in-house successor, presumably Tom Bradley, would at least become the interim head coach and would retain those assistants who want to stay.
When the subject has been brought up over the past few weeks, Paterno has expressed every intention of returning.
He seems mentally as sharp as ever, and he says he's anxious to get back to the sidelines.
That's one thing, though, that I'm having trouble picturing.
Even after a successful hip surgery, is the sideline safe for an 82-year-old man? Paterno proved in 2006 that the answer to that question is no. And, if he accepts that it's not safe, can he take another year as an eye in the sky in the press box?
Paterno does not have a contract beyond this season, and he and PSU President Graham Spanier agreed his status would be evaluated after the season.
If it was questionable whether he was in control of his destiny before the season, it's not now. He has the cards again, as he almost always has - and it's likely he'll continue to play them.
Nonetheless, today is a hot ticket, in part because the Lions can cap a great season and in bigger part because JoePa has been in overtime for awhile now.
Beating Michigan State may lead to some sort of post-game presentation or celebration on the field, and it will be interesting to see if Paterno emerges for it and, if he does, the lovefest that will greet him.
Add the fact that you have to be close to 65 to have ever seen Rip Engle in person, and people naturally want to be able to say they were in attendance for JoePa's last home game.
Even if he's back to open the season against Akron in '09.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.