STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Joe Paterno's record 43rd season on the sideline will begin with a new starting quarterback, and, most likely, another milestone.
The Hall of Fame coach picked Daryll Clark to start No. 22 Penn State's season opener Saturday against Coastal Carolina, a contest in which Paterno could tie Florida State's Bobby Bowden atop the career wins list for major college coaches.
The Seminoles don't open their season until Sept. 6 against Western Carolina. Paterno, a win behind Bowden's 373, could draw even with his good friend if Penn State beats the heavily overmatched Chanticleers, a Championship Subdivision school.
Not that Paterno keeps track of that kind of stuff.
``Bobby is a good friend of mine. Who cares?'' the 81-year-old Paterno said Tuesday when asked about the milestone. ``When they bury me are they going to put on my gravestone, 'You're one win ahead of Bobby Bowden?'''
Bowden surged ahead of Paterno in 2003, when Penn State was in the midst of a string of four losing seasons in five years.
Now, it's Bowden who has been struggling of late - at least by the lofty standards Bowden set for himself at Florida State. The Seminoles are coming off back-to-back 7-6 seasons following an 8-5 season in 2005. Penn State has been 11-1, 9-4 and 9-4 the last three years, allowing Paterno to catch up again.
The 78-year-old Bowden has said he doesn't care whether he finishes first, though he wouldn't mind finishing his career with 400 wins.
``It's attainable if I stay healthy and whole and win like I should,'' Bowden said earlier this summer. ``It could happen to Joe, too.''
Paterno has often said the wins record doesn't matter to him, either. He had more pressing concerns Tuesday, like picking Clark as his starting quarterback.
``I wondered whether that question would come up,'' a frisky Paterno said after his weekly news conference started with a question about the quarterback race.
Clark, a senior, was the backup the last two years behind Anthony Morelli, who's now in the NFL. Paterno said Clark beat out sophomore Pat Devlin, in part, because of his experience. Clark played sparingly behind Morelli, while Devlin has played even less.
M, when he ran for 50 yards and a touchdown in six carries. He has shown he can run the ball, though Paterno hasn't had to rely on his arm in big spots yet.
``It's working out. You don't have to be a genius to figure out that Clark was the guy who should be the guy who developed to be number one,'' Paterno said.
Paterno broke the news to his QBs on Monday night. He noted that Clark, Devlin and little-used third-stringer Paul Cianciolo each had good preseasons.
Devlin, Pennsylvania's career prep passing leader with 8,162 yards at Downingtown East, is known more for his arm, though teammates have said he can carry the ball, too. Paterno wants to get Devlin some playing time Saturday, though he doesn't know if Devlin will get behind center in future games.
``We have a fluid situation, we have a nice situation,'' Paterno said.
At the same time, Paterno did away with the idea he would rotate two quarterbacks, as he had said he would consider during the preseason. He said he doesn't want Clark to be ``looking over his shoulder.''
``I still don't want to go into the season where you have a two-quarterback or three-quarterback system,'' he said. ``I think Clark ought to go in there and have a little fun playing.''
Clark will be aided by a seasoned offensive line, which returns four starters, and a solid senior wideout trio in Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.
Chanticleers coach David Bennett acknowledged that Coastal Carolina will be heavy underdogs, and that the school could turn into another footnote in Paterno's record book.
``It'll be nice at halftime not to be obliterated,'' Bennett said Tuesday on a conference call.
---
AP Writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

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