CHICAGO - Joe's finally, and definitely, retiring after this season.
That's Tiller, not Paterno.
Tiller, a Toledo native who's been Purdue's head coach since 1997 and coaching football in one way or another since 1965, is hanging it up after this year. Paterno, Penn State's legendary boss, said yesterday he still doesn't know when his last season will be.
And he's tired of answering such questions.
"I can only say 'I don't know' so many times," Paterno said. "I'd like to retire when I feel I cannot make a contribution to Penn State. I want to get out of it when I think it's appropriate."
When pressed later during his session in front of Big Ten media members yesterday about possible circumstances under which he might retire, Paterno raised his voice to drive home his point.
"I don't know. I DON'T KNOW. Do you want me to spell it? I, D-O-N-T I don't know," he said, drawing laughter from reporters.
Paterno, a recent College Football Hall of Fame inductee, is 81-years old, has 372 wins, and is entering his 43rd season as the Nittany Lions' head coach. He's also in the final year of his contract.
Tiller, 65, who is close to Paterno, said if he were Penn State athletic director Tim Curley he would "try to sign him to another long-term contract, maybe another 40 years or so."
"Penn State will miss him when he decides he's not going to coach anymore," Tiller said. "I think college football will miss him probably even more so, and that's a pretty strong statement."
Tiller, who has 122 wins himself, is looking forward to spending his retirement fishing in Wyoming - where he was vacationing until arriving in Chicago for the Big Ten media conference.
Paterno chided his friend for choosing fishing over football, and said Tiller's decision to step down was no motivation for him to follow suit.
"Joe's got to do it his way, I've got to do it my way," Paterno said.
ROSTER LIMBO: Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said that junior defensive tackle Marques Slocum was no longer playing for the Wolverines.
"Several issues, academically and football-wise, he didn't meet the requirements to play football at the University of Michigan," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also said that junior running back Kevin Grady, who was arrested for drunk driving this month, is suspended from the team. He said Grady is on a week-by-week basis as to when he may return, and will then face playing time penalties when he gets back.
Ohio State is dealing with similar personnel issues.
Defensive back Eugene Clifford is reportedly seeking a release from his scholarship in order to continue his career at another school, this after his arrest earlier this month for allegedly punching two bar employees while they tried to break up a fight at an establishment in Clifford's hometown of Cincinnati.
Clifford played in four games last year, but was suspended for the national championship game against LSU for reasons Ohio State did not disclose.
He is to go on trial Tuesday on a pair of misdemeanor assault charges as a result of his recent arrest.
Junior receiver Ray Small, who was disciplined this past spring by having his number changed from No. 4 to No. 82, might be deeper in the doghouse.
Small is relegated to a tiny listing with a group of walk-on players in the Ohio State media guide, which was released yesterday.
All the other scholarship players have a bio included with their information, except for Small and Clifford.
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