VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (AP) -Joe Paterno wants football recruits to consider Penn State on its merits, not on whether the Hall of Fame coach will be around for the length of their stay.
Speaking before an Alumni Club function in suburban Philadelphia on Saturday, the 81-year-old Paterno cited Penn State's strong academics and football history as reasons recruits should think about going to school in Happy Valley. He says his own uncertain future as coach after this, his 43rd season, shouldn't figure in the decision.
``My coaches go in, tell kids what life is all about at Penn State, and whether we have a good opportunity for them,'' Paterno said. ``If one kid asks if coach Paterno is going to be there, they tell them to call me up.
``I tell them exactly what I feel: 'Look, I don't know whether I'm going to be here the three, four, five years you're going to be here.' I say 'I feel great and I'm intending to coach as long as I feel good.'''
Paterno has 372 wins, one behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden for most career victories among major college coaches. That makes his coaching future a hot topic.
Paterno's current contract is up at the end of the 2008 season. But his record-setting tenure isn't necessarily over. The university and Paterno have agreed to meet after the season to discuss the future - just as they have in past years.
Paterno said his advice to the recruits is simple: Take a look at the whole school.
``Look at Penn State,'' he said. ``Look at its history. ... Look at the enthusiasm of the program. Look at the academic support. And, you're going to play on a good football team. and you're going to be coached well.
``Don't put me in the equation beyond what it should be.''
Paterno said he doesn't think he has lost a recruit with that approach.
``Take a look around at the people who are here and take a look around at the things that have made Penn State special. Because we think we are something special.''
Paterno said he isn't in a hurry to name his starting quarterback for the coming season. Seniors Daryll Clark and Paul Cianciolo, and sophomore Pat Devlin are battling for the spot vacated by Anthony Morelli.
``I think we have a nice little situation here with some kids who can play,'' Paterno said. ``I think that is one of the strongest positions we have right now.
``I don't like to make a decision until I have to.''
Signing off, Paterno playfully implored the media to move beyond the team's past off-field troubles.
``Hey, I got a good football team, all right'' he said. ``I'm tired of talking about this, that and the other thing. To be very frank with you, we have a tough schedule. We have a good football team and we'll have a lot of fun.''

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