LOS ANGELES - Tom Bradley has waited and waited for his chance to be Penn State's next head coach, and he's perfectly content waiting even longer.
''I never worry about that,'' the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator said. ''I've said that lots of times.''
The way Bradley sees things, he wouldn't be disappointed even if he's a career assistant coach.
''Yeah, I'll be OK with that because I'm in a great place,'' he said.
Would he really be content?
''Seriously,'' Bradley said.
Joe Paterno recently received a three-year extension, which will take the legendary coach to age 85. Bradley is 52 and would be 55 by the time Paterno's new deal runs out.
Bradley laughed and said Paterno will ''complete the three years and get another one.''
That's how it's always been, with JoePa outlasting every assistant coach once thought to be his successor. Fran Ganter and Jerry Sandusky are exhibits 1 and 1A.
Much has been written and said about a potential succession plan for Paterno and possibly naming Bradley the associate head coach or coach-in-waiting. Were there any discussions about that with the school during the latest contract talks with Paterno?
''No, not at all,'' Bradley said.
Bradley is in his 30th season at PSU and likes it so much because of how Paterno operates with his staff.
''We have a lot of things that he allows us to do,'' Bradley said. ''He lets us be ourselves and do what we have to do.''
Linebacker Tyrell Sales summed it up even better.
''The dynamic of our coaching staff is Coach Paterno is the head coach, everybody else is an assistant coach,'' Sales said. ''But at the same time, they're the head coach of what they do. Joe respects that, and he gives the freedom to do the things they have to do. He respects them equally, and all the coaches respect him.''
Bradley confirmed he has been contacted by other schools about jobs but gave no specifics. He wouldn't say if he has interviewed elsewhere this year.
''I've always been reluctant ... to talk about it because I don't think it's fair,'' he said.
Sales didn't hesitate when asked how Bradley would do as a head coach.
''I think he'd be a great head coach,'' he said.
''The way he handles himself, he's all about business. But at the same time, he'll joke around with you and he'll have a good time. ... He's learned from the best, and he's been around some of the best coaches that have come through college football.''
All-American defensive end Aaron Maybin has spent time with the second team in practice this week after breaking an undisclosed team rule.
''I think Coach [Paterno] wanted to make a point with some things that happened,'' said Bradley, who didn't disclose what Maybin did to be punished.
Defensive tackle Jared Odrick hinted at it, saying it stemmed from Penn State's visit to Disneyland on Friday. Odrick was asked jokingly if Maybin punched Mickey Mouse.
''There was a little confusion whether it was everybody had to go to Disneyland or not,'' Odrick said.
Maybin had been scheduled to attend Sunday's media gathering but was scratched. It's unclear if he will start in the Rose Bowl or if the demotion was a temporary thing to motivate him.
''[The coaches] do some things to really get you motivated to play and stuff like that, just to realize the position you're in,'' Odrick said.
The USC camp praised Penn State's secondary, with quarterback Mark Sanchez and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian talking up the group.
The praise seemed a little odd given that the Lions have not faced a strong passing attack all season and were beaten when it mattered most late against Iowa.
''It's going to be tough to take advantage of them,'' Sanchez said. ''It's a solid group, they're all veteran players, they've played together for a while.
''We need to be smart with our passing game. ... It's on me to be accurate and the receivers to play smart and take care of the football in the secondary.''
Bradley said Sanchez is ''absolutely'' the best quarterback Penn State has faced this season.
''We haven't faced anybody like Mark or the USC offense,'' said cornerback Lydell Sargeant, a California native who attended Trojan football camps while in high school.
Odrick and the NFL
Odrick already is on the record saying he's returning next year and, despite having submitted his paperwork to the NFL draft advisory committee, said he still thinks that will be the case.
''With what I'm looking at right now, I really don't think I'm going to go anywhere,'' he said.
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.