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PATERNO: COLLEGES ARE IN ERA OF CHANGE

Penn State coach Joe Paterno says a new age is dawning in college athletics and in football it might mean the end of some of the greatest rivalries in the sport.

Penn State, which has accepted membership into the Big Ten Conference, may be forced to end traditional jousts with Pitt and West Virginia. The Big Ten's minimum of eight conference games could limit the number of non-conference opponents.But Paterno said that's not bad, just realistic.

"We can lose a lot of the people we've grown up with," Paterno said Wednesday. "But, again, the world's changing. We're moving on. . . . I think it would be naive to think that the traditions we've had - the games we've had - wouldn't change.

"The Penn State-Ohio State game in 10 years might be a much bigger game than Pitt-Penn State because of the size of the stadiums and because (of) our alumni."

Penn State has accepted an invitation from the Big Ten to join the conference. Full participation in all sports will not occur for several years, but Paterno said it is one of his goals to be on the sidelines when the Nittany Lions play their first conference football game.

"I want to coach in the Big Ten," he said. "I'm going to coach until I'm 70 and I'm 63 right now. I'm excited about the opportunity to coach against some of the schools in the Big Ten. And I would love to have the opportunity to coach in a Rose Bowl."

Paterno also said he felt that the move to so-called super-conferences - combining parts of the major-college leagues now in existence to make even more powerful entities - could lead to a national championship game.

"For me, having a lineup of six or seven conferences, I think you'll have a national championship playoff," said Paterno, who said the current bowl situation was deteriorating.