Scattershooting the college football scene while reviewing notes from all those media days.

THUMBS UP: Say what you want to about Joe Paterno, but he's not going to retire this season, and he told reporters he doesn't know when he ever will.

No matter how many times he gets mowed over on the sidelines, Pappa Joe is one gritty 81-year-old, and he'll coach his 43rd season this fall.

THUMBS DOWN: The college football newswire is loaded with bad news. On Monday's ESPN Web site, seven of the Top 10 stories were negative or reports of trouble. They included Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer receiving a subpoena at the SEC media day stemming from a defamation suit by an Alabama booster; an Arkansas WR arrested for DUI Saturday after nearly hitting a police officer; the mother of an alleged Iowa sexual

assault victim released a letter about an alleged attack by players and harassment; an Oregon linebacker and Wisconsin running back are suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules; and Kentucky's QB is in trouble again.

THEY SAID IT: Vols coach Phil Fullmer, in a statement released about the subpoena and suit that alleges he defamed a 'Bama booster as the source of paying a football recruit a decade ago when the Tide received NCAA sanctions: "Because they can't win legally, they are trying to play the game in the press. I am more than a little PO'd about any part of that.

"It's sad that a few publicity-hunting lawyers in one of our sister states want to keep open a chapter of history that has long since been closed and as far as I'm concerned will stay closed. Obviously this is an effort to distract our football team or distract me in some way. The last time this happened, we won the division with two freshman quarterbacks. We won't be distracted. I had a good conversation with (SEC commissioner Mike Slive) about it."

Gotta love that SEC.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: When the Utes play at Michigan, they'll go against a conflicted coach in Rich Rodriguez. Folks at West Virginia won't forgive him for pulling stakes and leaving for Ann Arbor, and Michigan fans wonder if he's the answer to introducing their program to this century.

Rodriguez and Michigan agreed to pay $4 million to WVU, with $1.5 coming from Rodriguez in three annual payments starting in 2010.

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: Bronco Mendenhall and Kyle Whittingham enter their fourth year as head coaches, and you couldn't help see the change in their demeanors at the MWC media days in Henderson, Nev., last week.

Both were confident, direct, forthcoming and energetic as they made this stop on their way to final vacation days. Whittingham was headed to Lake Powell and Mendenhall to Santa Cruz to surf. They were pretty rigid three summers ago. Mount Rushmore-like. Still, today, they aren't threatening anybody's job on "Saturday Night Live."

DUMB AND DUMBER: The Reggie Bush case at USC. According to the L.A. Times, more than two years after allegations surfaced that Bush received extra benefits while at USC, Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said that college football continues to investigate the matter.

"If it is determined that Bush violated NCAA rules, he could be deemed retroactively ineligible," the Times reported. "Bush also faces a civil lawsuit filed by one of two would-be sports marketers from whom he and his family allegedly received cash and gifts.

"We're still involved, the NCAA is still involved," Hansen said. "Beyond that, I have no comment."

Duh. Either Bush got a benefit or he didn't.

UNSUNG HERO: New Mexico's Rocky Long. He's honest, transparent and due.

YEAH, BUT...: UCLA's Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow have increased the football chatter in SoCal these days, even with USC receiving 39 of 39 votes to win it all. It's the drama that counts in this town. On paper, USC is a monster and UCLA is a wreck trying to inflate all tires. As sportswriter Bill Plaschke put it: "On the cover of the USC media guide ... there are photos of four defenders with All-American and/or Rose Bowl MVP credentials. On the cover of the UCLA media guide, there is a photo of a guy with one career touchdown and another guy who missed all but two games last year because of an injury.

TREND SETTERS: LSU seems to have talent and momentum but don't rule out Florida and Georgia.

OVER RATED: Ohio State. Still not convinced they can win the big one.

UNDER RATED: ASU could open some eyes.

BOTTOM LINE: With all the BCS talk about BYU — if the Cougars are to repeat what Utah, Boise State and Hawaii did in dipping into the big-time coin — they'll have to be undefeated. "Nobody's done it yet with a loss," said Mendenhall. "The standard is set until somebody breaks it. I don't think we get in with a loss."


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com