Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time is Running Out: Name a Football Coach, Penn State

The search committee should introduce a new head football coach in the next week

Aside from the colossal blunder of PSU president Rodney Erickson saying he wants to de-emphasize the spotlight on athletics at the same time Penn State is named the best school for graduating its football players and is in the midst of trying to find a new football coach (memo to Erickson: NOT the way to sell your program to potential coaches), the coaching search has been going well for Penn State.

How do we know? Because we haven't heard much. Which means everyone involved is keeping their mouths closed.

Several names have been kicked around - Mike London? Dan Mullen? Mike Munchak? Tom Bradley? Greg Schiano? Al Golden? Chris Petersen? James Franklin? Ken Niumatalolo? - but little if anything has been confirmed regarding interest from PSU in a candidate, and vice versa.

Which is pretty hard to do these days, with the skills and technology the media has at its disposal for figuring out such things.

So, that's nice.

But we're now only 11 days from Christmas, 2.5 weeks since the naming of the six-member PSU football head coach search committee (headed by acting AD Dave Joyner) and 5 weeks since Joe Paterno was fired. Many other schools have fired and hired coaches in that span.

This is not to suggest the Lions rush such a decision. Vetting is essential. Finding the right guy is critical.

But six people tasked with one thing for three weeks should reach a conclusion: It's time for a new coach to be named, and Penn State football to begin moving forward from the catastrophe it endured in November.

If the committee doesn't get it done by early next week - by, say, Dec. 21 - then we've got possible problems developing.

(On Dec. 8 Joyner reportedly said PSU was working on a 30-day timetable. Hopefully he said that just to keep the media from hounding him the next 10-14 days, and isn't really thinking about waiting until January. Or maybe/hopefully he meant a 30-day timetable from when the committee was formed in late November.)

It will begin to look like Penn State can't find a good candidate. Or that the pool of candidates are not interested in PSU. Or that the committee is indecisive, or divided. Or does not recognize the need to expedite.

Or that PSU isn't willing to pay market value.

If the announcement comes anytime after Dec. 21, it will get lost in crush of the holidays, swallowed up by everything else swirling about the vortex of Christmas.

And the committee will have unnecessarily, and harmfully, delayed the process of moving the football program forward. The program - the coaches, players, staff - have been waiting in limbo for weeks. The alumni and fans have been also.

The players need to know who their next coach will be, and how they fit in to the new coach's program. Recruits need to know who the next coach will be, so they can make the best decision about what school to attend. 

The assistant coaches need time to move on with their lives (if, as is presumed, interim coach Tom Bradley is not named the new head coach). If the assistants aren't going to be retained - the new head coach likely will bring in an almost entirely new staff  - they need time to secure jobs elsewhere. They need a fair opportunity to do so before the coaching carousel stops spinning.

They also don't need to be mistreated; if the current PSU coaches won't be retained, let them know in a reasonable amount of time. Like, by Dec. 21.

Maybe a coach the committee has identified wants an announcement delayed. Perhaps he is finishing coaching his current team's season, and wants a few more weeks to do so.

However, Penn State needs to make its decision now. If a coach can't commit now, then PSU needs to move on to the next guy. There are a lot of outstanding coaches out there who could do a great job in Happy Valley. The committee should be able to identify at least a half-dozen excellent candidates, not just one or two.

There are many reasons this announcement needs to be made in the next seven days. There are none why it shouldn't.

The clock is ticking ...


  1. Can PSU really take the huge risk in hiring Tom Bradley? What if Tom Bradley is hired and 6, 8, or 12 months from now it comes out in the Sandusky trial, or by one of the many ongoing probing investigations, that Bradley knew about Sandusky? Could PSU, at that critical time in its ongoing healing process from the Sandusky scandal, survive yet another huge negative hit on its reputation?

  2. Agreed. Under normal circumstances Bradley would be a great choice, but circumstances are far from normal. The Sandusky scandal in all likelihood will force PSU to hire from the outside, and clean house.

  3. These journalists are just upset PSU isn't standing in front of a microphone every minute of the day feeding them.

  4. Yes, they are. But they are even more upset they have been unable to procure leaked information. Journalists rely on inside sources leaking information at times like these, or on leaks coming from the other side, for example if PSU or a PSU intermediary contacts Al Golden (or a Golden intermediary), someone who knows Golden leaks it to the media (probably his agent). There has been virtually none of that in this search.

  5. The stinking media just wants more to write about. Haven't they done enough in crucifying the entire university for the actions of a few? Why should anyone be surprised that they want to put pressure on Erickson to hurry up the selection process? It's not like it matters now anyway. Urban Meyer will be scooping up all the recruits anyway. Penn State should have given him whatever he wanted to get him to State College. I am cringing at the thought of the chump they are going to name as head coach just to get it over with. Say good bye to Linebacker U. You would think they would realize how many people bleed blue and white on Saturday afternoons in the fall. I have zero confidence in these jokers to get it right from a football perspective. It's all about appeasing the media and making a quick choice from a pool of talentless coaches. Anything less than Urban Meyer is a consolation prize.

  6. The right coach, with support from the university, will do just fine long-term. Recruiting might take a hit this year, but that's no big deal. Two bad recruiting classes in a row however would be crippling. As for Urban Meyer, 3-5 years ago hiring him would have been an all-time no brainer. But the guy was terrible his last season at Florida (mailed it in, offense was a disaster), he resigned twice from the job, and he had legitimate, documented stress-related medical issues. He's definitely a question mark for Ohio State, a stresser-cooker if there ever was. Maybe he can manage his health better this time, but that's a big maybe.