The longer this drags on, the worse things probably are for the Nittany Lions
It was the last week in November, nearly three weeks after Joe Paterno was fired, that the Penn State football search committee was formed.
We're now in the first week of the New Year. The season is over. Underclassmen need to declare by Jan. 15 if they are entering the draft. Signing Day for high school prospects is a month away. Assistant coaches' lives linger in limbo. Some players surely might be transferring rather than continue waiting to know who their coach will be.
Tick, tick, tick ...
Yes, of course, getting the right coach for Penn State is the No. 1 priority, and should not be rushed.
But should it take six weeks (or more), when virtually everyone else does it in three or less?
There are exceptional circumstances here, for sure. A guy named Sandusky, you might have heard. That should add a week, maybe two. Vetting is of the utmost importance.
And Signing Day, truth be told, isn't all that important this year, considering the next head coach will be bringing in a new signing class every year. One sub-par class won't hurt the program long term like hiring the wrong coach will. And if a few players transfer, well, so be it. (Though it must be said these PSU players have been dragged through the wringer and deserve to know by now who the next coach will be.)
But still - six weeks?
Acting AD and committee chair Dave Joyner has been more accessible in the media recently, though revealing nothing, which is fine.
Reported leaks about supposed top candidates have been more common recently (Bill O'Brien! Greg Roman! Mike Munchak and Chris Petersen again!), though leading nowhere, which is a little disconcerting.
(It is surprising that many of the names popping up have no head coaching experience, considering the situation the new coach will be inheriting.)
Ultimately, the committee needs to select a head coach who does two things: provides stability for the present and hope for the future.
That present is going to be harder and harder to stabilize the longer and longer the wait. Remember, the coach needs to hiring a coaching staff. Almost immediately, he needs to have most of his assistants on board.
And what of the current PSU coaching staff? Most are waiting to see if they might be retained. All have been tainted by the scandal. Some won't be able to get comparable jobs because of it. They're toxic, for the time being at least, to some extent. Otherwise, there's no logical explanation for Tom Bradley not being the Pitt head coach.
Meanwhile, perception continues to mushroom throughout the football world that something is wrong with the PSU search. That the committee must be divisive, or confused, or uncertain, or unaware of the value of expeditiousness, or being rejected by its selected candidates. That no viable, top-notch option will take the job.
Which just makes it even harder to secure that right coach.
Tick, tick, tick ... Penn State waits.
If the committee finds the right coach, however - and bucks the declining odds - no one will remember how long it took to find him.
For more on how the search committee appears to be in an all-or-nothing position: