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Ganter in Line To Replace Paterno

February 7, 2000

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ Rip Engle cleared the path for Joe Paterno in 1964. Paterno insists he is not doing the same for longtime assistant Fran Ganter.

Ganter, Penn State’s offensive coordinator since 1984 and a Paterno assistant for nearly 30 years, became assistant head coach Monday, a new title that seals his status as the favorite to replace the 73-year-old Paterno when he retires.

``People should not read too much into this thing, as far as Fran being my successor,″ Paterno said. ``I don’t think it’s fair to Frannie or anybody else on the staff. Fran’s done a heck of a job for this program, a great job. I think it’s only appropriate that he get that title.″

In 1964, Engle, then the Nittany Lions’ coach, made Paterno associate head coach. When Engle retired the next year, he designated Paterno his choice as successor.

Paterno said he is not making any decisions for the university for ``five years from now.″ But he said, ``certainly Fran would be a great candidate if I were to retire tomorrow.″

With Sandusky’s retirement after 34 years, Ganter became Paterno’s most senior assistant.

The expected changes come two weeks after Penn State said Paterno signed a five-year contract extension _ the first such announcement in Paterno’s 50 years at the university. He said he plans to continue coaching at least through 2004.

Also Monday, defensive backs coach Tom Bradley was promoted to head the defense, replacing the retired Jerry Sandusky. Bradley has been a Penn State assistant since 1979.

Ganter played fullback on one of Penn State’s first Paterno-led teams in the late 1960s, then joined the staff as graduate assistant in 1972. He has coached the running backs and kickers since 1978, and he took over the entire offense in 1984. He will continue to oversee the offense.

But don’t call Ganter or Bradley ``coordinators.″ Paterno has pitched those titles, saying they foster the kind of ``me-first″ attitude he has so steadfastly tried to remove from the program.

``I’ve always hated that term,″ he explained. ``They assume when he’s the coordinator, it’s his offense or it’s his defense. It’s gotten to the point where it takes away from the unity of your staff.″

Paterno announced other changes Monday in the biggest shakeup in years.

His son, Jay, will coach the quarterbacks, taking over for Dick Anderson. Jay Paterno had been coaching tight ends. Anderson will coach guards and centers, while line coach Bill Kenney takes tackles and tight ends.

Defensive ends coach Larry Johnson takes over the line from Joe Sarra, who moves into an administrative position. Sarra will focus on sports camps, agents, pro teams, fund-raising and facilities.

Paterno said Sarra will take over some of the administrative load, giving Paterno more time to coach.

Two former Lions captains join the staff. Al Golden, an assistant coach at Boston College for three years, becomes linebackers coach, previously Sandusky’s duty. Bob White, an assistant athletic director at Penn State, joins the team to help with the defensive line and coach special teams.

Golden played from 1989-91, and caught the game-tying touchdown in Penn State’s upset over No. 1 Notre Dame in 1990. He spent a year with the New England Patriots and also was an assistant coach at Virginia. White played on Paterno’s national championship teams in 1982 and 1986, then represented the school on educational matters in Washington, D.C., for two years before joining the athletic department in 1994.

Sandusky’s retirement started the reshuffling, but Paterno said he probably would have done something this offseason _ especially after Penn State’s 0-3 November.

``It was time for everybody to take a look at the whole thing,″ he said.