COLUMBUS, Ohio - Penn State's players and coaches went through a lot of different emotions after finding out Friday evening that former coach Joe Paterno has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
"It was tough for us to accept," offensive lineman Quinn Barham said. "But we know Coach Joe, he's a fighter."
The news broke while the players were flying to Columbus, and many of them saw it on Twitter or text messages once they landed. Interim head coach Tom Bradley then addressed it at a team meeting.
The Associated Press
Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman celebrates with PSU fans.
"It's been a really emotional week, and once Coach Bradley announced it at dinner, it was really upsetting to hear," linebacker Glenn Carson said. "It's been an emotional week for us, and it's kind of like when it rains it pours kind of thing for us. We fought through so much adversity, and this was just another thing to add onto the list."
Jay Paterno said the family wanted to keep the cancer diagnosis secret until after the season.
"But when you leave the house and people follow you," he said, "it's tough to kind of keep those things quiet. ... It was kind of a family thing, and we hoped to keep it that way."
Jay Paterno said he didn't know exactly what day the diagnosis was revealed - "The whole week was a complete blur," he said - while his brother Scott said it was last weekend. Jay told the other assistant coaches Friday on the team plane.
Many of the assistant coaches have been on the staff with Paterno for a long time, but none has known him longer than offensive coordinator Galen Hall, who played at PSU in the 1950s when Paterno was an assistant coach.
When he first heard the news, Hall said his reaction was, "Shocked as I was when we heard about the other situation [the Jerry Sandusky scandal]. The good thing is they say it's treatable. Joe's a fighter, and I'm sure that it will be treatable and he will come back."
Co-defensive coordinator Larry Johnson said, "You can't help but have emotions" dealing with everything that's happened and now the cancer news. He mentioned he visited Paterno on Monday.
"I went over to the house and visited with him, talked to him then, and he was great," Johnson said. "He said, 'Hey, continue to coach, you guys will do well, I'll be watching you.'"
Several players said after the game that they were planning to take a game ball to Paterno's house at some point, perhaps today.
"Our hearts are out to Joe for a speedy recovery," Carson said. "We've been praying for him, and that's really all we can do right now."
Fera has big day with long FGs
Tom Bradley joked with Anthony Fera that if the kicker missed a field goal Saturday, "You're going to need a vote to get on the plane."
Maybe it relaxed Fera, who missed a 47-yard field goal in a 19-16 loss to Nebraska last week and didn't punt well.
"It motivated me," Fera said. "All week long, if I was taking a knee [on the sidelines], he'd tell me to go make some friends."
Fera was especially sharp against the Buckeyes, nailing field goals from 43 and 46 yards - both career longs - and downing three punts inside the OSU 20.
"It was big," he said. "Last week, I missed a field goal in the first quarter and we lost."
Fera was pleased to make a vital contribution, especially the 46-yarder to close the first half that gave the Lions a 20-14 lead.
"I spent some time with Anthony this week and teased him," Bradley said. "Wow. He had a heck of a game. He was a big-time weapon today."
Bradley also credited holder Ryan Keiser, who "doesn't get a lot of credit. He put some great holds down."
Bradley mum about Boeheim comment
The Syracuse basketball program is also dealing with a scandal concerning molestation accusations against assistant coach Bernie Fine. Orange head coach Jim Boeheim took a shot at Paterno on Friday when he said, "I'm not Joe Paterno. Somebody didn't come and tell me Bernie Fine did something and I'm hiding it."
That comment has not gone over well with many PSU faithful, but Bradley chose not to address it when asked about it after the game.
"No, I have no comment," he said. "Really, I just heard real briefly about it. This isn't about that. This is about this football team. This is about these players. Let's talk about them."
Meyer linked to Buckeyes
ESPN reported Saturday that Ohio State officials have been in contact with Urban Meyer about taking over as head coach.
"I don't talk about it," Buckeyes interim coach Luke Fickell said when asked about the report. "I don't think this is the time nor the place. We're talking about the game, and we're going to move on and talk about Michigan."
Fickell, who took over for Jim Tressel, would seem to have little chance of landing the full-time job as his team is 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes have struggled offensively for much of the season, especially in the passing game. Braxton Miller was just 7-of-17 for 83 yards and one TD Saturday, although he did rush for a team-high 105 yards on 18 carries. Boom Herron gained 76 yards on 18 carries.
"I'm disappointed to lose at home on senior day," said Herron, who was suspended for part of the season for his role in the Ohio State tattoo-gate scandal. "We came into the game wanting to go out with a bang. Obviously that just didn't happen."
Bradley praises Buckeye fans
The Penn State camp appreciated being treated with a lot of respect from the crowd at the Horseshoe, in the wake of the ongoing scandal.
"You've got to take your hat off to them, and I did walking off the field after warm-ups when they stood up and cheered us," Bradley said. "That's first class. First-class group, it's a first-class university here."
There was a pregame ceremony with all players from both teams lining up near midfield for the coin toss. The players all shook hands after the coin toss.
News and notes
PSU used three different tailbacks on the game's first three plays - Brandon Beachum, then Stephfon Green and then Silas Redd. ... Redd is still battling a collarbone injury and carried only eight times, although he had 63 yards, including a 42-yard burst. ... Eric Latimore started at defensive end in place of Sean Stanley, who came in and made a superb defensive play when he broke up a pass deep downfield in coverage. ... Carson led PSU with 11 tackles, while Jack Crawford, who was wearing a knee brace, had two sacks.
(Compiled by Cory Giger and Neil Rudel)