Joe Paterno is digging in his cleats and appears ready to engage in a power struggle with Penn State president Graham Spanier, believing his status and clout will eventually result in a contract extension.
Paterno, 81, who has not talked with the media since Dec. 30, the day after Penn State's 24-17 victory against Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, is scheduled to hold a press conference next week before the start of spring practice. He'll face questions about his contract, which expires at the end of the 2008 season.
Two trustees told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that negotiations regarding a possible contract extension or succession plan for Paterno have not gone smoothly. And Spanier, like Paterno, appears ready for a fight.
"There's nothing new to report," Spanier said before the trustees' meeting in the nation's capital. "And there are no talks set up for the foreseeable future."
The sides have played this game before. In 2004, Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and two other high-ranking Penn State officials showed up on Paterno's doorstep and urged him to stop coaching, only months after Paterno was given a four-year extension with less than a year left on his old deal.
While Paterno eventually won that battle, the result could be different this time, creating the possibility of an ugly end to his 58 years at Penn State, the last 42 as head coach.
Of note in all of this: Penn State is 32-32 against Big Ten competition since the 2000 season and has finished higher than fourth in the conference only once in the past decade.