UNIVERSITY PARK — There were smiling faces all around last week when Penn State announced the $88 million donation by alumnus Terry Pegula would finance the creation of a new ice hockey arena as well as varsity men’s and women’s hockey programs.
That included the university’s most well-known face.
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said he was thrilled with the addition of the new facility, which will be adjacent to the football complex and is scheduled to be completed by as early as 2014.
Hockey was only one reason. “I think hockey would be a great addition to our intercollegiate program,” Paterno said Tuesday during his weekly news conference in Beaver Stadium. “But more than that it’s a place where young people can come up here and skate.”
Paterno said he had long hoped that an “ice-skating rink” would have been erected on that side of campus and was disappointed when a baseball park — the home of both the Penn State baseball team and the Class-A State College Spikes — was built there instead.
Paterno had made it publicly known in the past that he wasn’t thrilled about the construction of Medlar Field at Lubrano Park or that he was not consulted. He didn’t do much to alter that stance Tuesday.
“I don’t care about the Spikes,” Paterno said. “I care about Penn State baseball. It’s a great facility, but I don’t know how much it’s done for our baseball. And you’d have to ask the baseball coach (Robbie Wine) about that.”
Paterno said he “dropped a note” to Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio, who suffered a heart attack shortly after the Spartans defeated Notre Dame this past Saturday. Penn State’s coach then was asked his thoughts on the pressures of coaching college football.
“There’s stress in everything in this day and age,” Paterno said. “You look at the politicians, the kind of pressure they’re under. Everything they do and did 15 years ago people are bringing up. It’s just the world we live in.
“Media has to compete, the TV cable stations have gotten so active in things ... You can’t turn the television on without someone telling you what’s happened. It’s a world of stress.”
Paterno, who has had a number of physical problems (broken leg, hip replacement surgery, gastrointestinal maladies) over the last few years but no heart troubles, said he hadn’t changed his style of coaching to alleviate stress on himself or his assistants.
“I don’t think the job itself is any more stressful than it was but there’s more demands,” he said. “The other coaches might tell you they wish I’d shut up more.”
The back injury that has kept junior tight end Andrew Szczerba off the field hasn’t let up.
“I don’t think he’s gonna play this year,” Paterno said. “He hasn’t even put on a uniform.”
Wide receiver Curtis Drake, who broke his leg in early August, has yet to return to practice, though he’s walking around without the aid of crutches.
Strong safety Drew Astorino, who played in nickel situations but was replaced in base defense packages by Andrew Dailey in Saturday’s win over Kent State, is still feeling the effects of the left shoulder injury that limited him in 2009.
“The shoulder still bothers him,” Paterno said. “He doesn’t practice as intensely as he normally would. I think he’s done some things very well and some other things he’d tried to be careful with the shoulder.
“I’d say he’s done a better than a good job when you consider all the physical circumstances.”
Defensive end Pete Massaro, who made his first career start last week, said Tuesday that the starters at defensive end would be determined by this week’s practices. Massaro and Sean Stanley started in place of Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore last week. ... Wide receiver Graham Zug said quarterback Rob Bolden has improved his presence in the huddle. “When he came in he was a real quiet, shy kid. Now he’s one of the top leaders on our offense,” Zug said.
Temple at No. 23 Penn State
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium
TV: Big Ten Network (Comcast Ch. 55)
Radio: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7