Penn State should have a good chance to return to the Rose Bowl this season, and if so, Joe Paterno will at least be familiar with the travel and access demands in and around Los Angeles.
Paterno has been critical of the Rose Bowl on numerous occasions for what he deems to be distractions to his team. Penn State lost to USC, 38-24, and Paterno said the team didn't play or coach well.
"A lot of it has to do with the apparatus of the Rose Bowl," Paterno said. "We had to get on a bus for 45 minutes to go to practice and 45 minutes to get back. I canceled two or three practices that I would have had because I didn't want to get the kids on the bus all the time."
Rose Bowl spokesperson Gina Chappin said the Nittany Lions were treated no differently than any other team that plays in the game. She did acknowledge "The Granddaddy of Them All" has certain inherent disadvantages to teams.
"L.A. is very, very spread out," Chappin said before later adding, "If you're from a small town and you're only driving five miles to get somewhere and you come to Los Angeles, it certainly can be a little bit overwhelming."
The description fits Paterno, who lives less than a mile from Beaver Stadium. Going to a bowl game in a huge city like Los Angeles or Miami - he also complained about long travel distances at the Orange Bowl in 2006 - can be a major adjustment.
Paterno wants to do things his way, and it's been that way for more than four decades. If he doesn't want to cooperate with something, he won't.
JoePa blew off a BCS policy that mandates teams open their locker rooms to the media after the game. Joe said no after the Rose Bowl - the first coach to ever do so in a BCS game - and Penn State was fined an undisclosed amount.
As for the long drives to practice, Chappin estimated it takes 25-30 minutes with a police escort to go from the Lions' team hotel to the Home Depot Center facility. The driving time can change depending on the often-crazy L.A. traffic.
"I don't think there is a better practice facility at any other bowl game in the country," Pac-10 spokesman Jim Muldoon said of the Home Depot Center.
Paterno said he had hoped to practice at UCLA's facility but was turned down by the Pac-10. Muldoon said the conference has no input in the matter.
The Rose Bowl committee can secure the L.A. Coliseum for practices, as well as Loyola-Marymount and other smaller colleges in the area. Every other team that has gone to the Rose Bowl in recent years - except USC, which uses its own facility - has practiced at the Home Depot Center, and Chappin said none complained.
Paterno's complaints won't fall on deaf ears, Chappin added, and the Rose Bowl frequently seeks the advice of numerous people to improve its process.
Will it ever be good enough for Paterno? Maybe not. But JoePa should be happy to go through the ordeal again if it means his team is in the Rose Bowl.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and email@example.com.