UNIVERSITY PARK -- Joe Paterno loves to proclaim he's not up on technology, cell phones or what he called "tweedle-doo" or "tweedle-dee" (actually Twitter), but the 84-year-old is showing he's willing to learn new tricks.
Paterno has entered the technological age by recently visiting with three recruits via Skype, an Internet service that allows people to have face-to-face interactions online using webcams.
"He was on Skype the other day and told a couple recruits he could go four more years," Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said of his father.
JoePa, of course, hasn't made recruiting trips himself in more than three years, in part because he's had health problems and in part because, well, he simply doesn't want to.
Skype may not be as good as a personal visit to a recruit's living room, but to that high school kid, the added visual element of the legendary coach is better than simply talking on the phone.
Jay Paterno called it "a major plus for us" in recruiting.
"The only question Joe had about it was, 'How do you spell Skype?'" JayPa said. "I actually knew. Then he said, 'What exactly does it mean?'"
Maybe it won't mean much at all to Penn State's recruiting efforts, but at least the coach is trying to branch out and find different ways to stay involved in all aspects of the program.
If he's not going anywhere for several more years, which very well may be the case, it's up to Paterno to either try these kinds of different things on his own or be forced to try them by others in the program.
Since everyone knows Paterno generally isn't forced into doing anything, it's a good sign that he's willing to try something new with the Skype video conferencing.
"He embraced it," JayPa said.
Now the question is whether the recruits will embrace JoePa in that forum. The three he's interfaced with so far are five-star defensive end Noah Spence from Bishop McDevitt in Harrisburg, four-star cornerback Armani Reeves from Catholic Memorial in Massachusetts and his high school teammate, four-star linebacker Camren Williams, who already has committed to PSU.
"One of the questions one of the guys had was [about his] health and how long [he would coach]," Jay Paterno said. "Joe was on the screen and they were, 'Wow, you look tan and rested.'"
That's clearly one benefit for the kids -- being able to see Paterno and judge for themselves how his health looks.
As for that, Paterno is said to be in excellent health, a significant change from a year ago at this time when he was battling an illness.
"He's as good as he's been probably in 10 years at least, if not more," JayPa said.
The coach has been seen out and about walking around campus numerous times in recent weeks, and his son said he's going about six miles a day "pretty fast." Passersby have been taking photos of him on occasion and posting them on the Internet.
"The only question he had for me, he said, 'Jay, does every cell phone have a camera on it?'" the younger Paterno said. "I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I can't walk through campus without getting stopped.'"
The coach also has been hard at work preparing for the season, JayPa said, and already has the staff focused on a key showdown in week two against Alabama at Beaver Stadium.
"He came in last week and said, 'I'm gonna put Alabama on the whole staff," Jay Paterno said. "He started going down everything, and he wasn't asking a lot of questions. He was telling us, which means he's been doing a lot of work on them."
So, entering the final year of his contract, he's doing well physically, he still has football on his mind at all times and he's even embracing technology.
Doesn't sound like a guy who's planning to retire any time soon.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.