Co-hosting a radio show in New York a year ago, I told our guest, former Penn State linebacker Greg Buttle, that I thought Joe Paterno ought to be fired.
Ever spent two seconds that seemed more like two minutes?
Buttle ended the uncomfortable silence by saying through the phone, "You're lucky I'm not in the studio right now."
A brainy, debonair All-American linebacker, Buttle graduated from Penn State in 1976 and has kept in touch Joe Pa through the years.
"I didn't feel he was done," Buttle said Thursday by phone from New York. "I know there's more to football than blowing up the ball. When you set a higher standard, you're going to take your lumps. No one has higher standards than Joe Paterno. When you do that, you've got to be able to stay your ground and say I don't care, this has been successful and will be successful again. Now that's not to say we've beaten the No. 1, 2, and 3 teams in the country."
The Nittany Lions are 5-0 for Paterno, 78. They were 7-16 the past two seasons. They gained national respect by defeating ranked Minnesota, 44-14 last week. Ohio State comes to town Saturday. Win or lose, Paterno will do it with his kind of players.
"The years have come and the years have gone," Buttle said. "University presidents have come and university presidents have gone. Players have come and players have gone and that bar has always been set by Paterno. I'm happy he sets it that high."
Buttle, a former New York Jets linebacker, is among many former players to make Paterno proud. He has ownership interests in airport parking lots, night clubs, catering facilities, digital photography and other businesses. He also analyzes the Jets on television and radio.
Kansas State 21, Kansas 18: Bill Snyder's Wildcats have scored at least 20 points in 36 consecutive games, dating back to midseason of 2002, and as good as the Kansas defense is, it stands to reason K-State will be able to extend the streak to 37 games, despite an injury-thinned, inexperienced offensive line. The question then becomes can the Jayhawks score three touchdowns themselves? And the answer is no. K-State has allowed only three passing touchdowns and an average of less than 160 passing yards per game. The Wildcats will load the box to stop the run, confident they can still stop the pass. Homefield advantage swings the edge to K-State.
Texas 28, Oklahoma 24: Sooners Heisman Trophy runner-up Adrian Peterson (ankle) returned to practice Wednesday, so he should be ready for the 100th Red River Shootout. Not that he's the same back he was a year ago anyway. He's averaging just 4.6 yards per carry, an indication the blocking isn't as overpowering. Even with all the new faces on defense the Sooners remain stingy against the run, limiting K-State to 22 yards a week ago. The secondary isn't as efficient, which means if Texas is going to stay in the hunt for a national title, Vince Young is going to have to throw to the right jerseys. Young has thrown seven touchdown passes and five interceptions. ... Longhorns remain in the hunt for Dallas sensation Darrell Arthur, the 6-foot-9-inch, Danny Manning play-alike targeted by Jayhawks.
Texas Tech 28, Nebraska 23: The Cornhuskers lead the nation with 26 sacks and rank second in scoring defense, allowing nine points per game. Texas Tech leads the nation with an average of 57.3 points per game. The West Coast offense finally clicked for Nebraska QB Zac Taylor, who threw for 431 yards without a completion longer than 20 yards in last week's win over Iowa State.
Oklahoma State 17, Missouri 14:The Pokes can't possibly be as bad as they played in last week's 34-0 loss to Colorado. With no offense to speak of, their defense will have to win this one with turnovers.
Iowa State 24, Baylor 17: After his team barely survived against Baylor last week, Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione tried to put his finger on why it was such a struggle. During a postgame radio interview, Franchione talked about how Baylor looked fresher because it was coming off a bye week. The truth: The Bears are much faster than a typical Baylor team and that's going to take some getting used to for coaches throughout the league. Still, the Cyclones won't blow this home game.
Texas A&M 24, Colorado 21: The Buffs have two shutouts, but haven't faced the likes of A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal in getting them. Colorado QB Joe Klatt hasn't hit a groove yet and won't this week.
(The contest is currently closed. Good luck to all who entered.)