Penn State athletic director expects quick search for new coach
College Football Videos
The process for finding Penn State's 16th head football coach is underway, and it's not expected to take long.
“We expect this search to be very timely,” athletic director Dave Joyner said Thursday. “Our anticipation is that we'll be counting this in a matter of days rather than weeks.”
Chairman of a six-person search committee, Joyner did not divulge names but said candidates from across the country reached out to the university before Bill O'Brien made his resignation official this week.
O'Brien, who coached the Nittany Lions for two years, left to become head coach of the NFL's Houston Texans. He is expected to be introduced at a news conference Friday morning in Houston.
Joyner praised interim Penn State coach Larry Johnson Sr., the defensive line coach who has been one of the staff's top recruiters since joining it two decades ago. Johnson, who is popular with players and incoming recruits, is the only individual Joyner confirmed would be given consideration for the permanent job.
Joyner said prior ties to Penn State “are not a requirement going forward, but it will be a thought process in the selection of the next coach.”
Recently fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, a former Penn State assistant whom many considered to be a strong candidate, has not contacted the university about the job, nor have university officials contacted him, a college football source told the Tribune-Review on Thursday night. Given Joyner's time frame, that would suggest Schiano is not on Joyner's short list.
Joyner said he believed the job is more attractive than it was two years ago, after Joe Paterno was fired in the wake of former assistant Jerry Sandusky being indicted on child sex-abuse charges and the NCAA levied historic sanctions on the program.
Two years ago, restoring the university's reputation was a priority.
“The atmosphere around this search is entirely … different,” Joyner said.
“First and foremost is integrity,” he said. “Second is the ability to continue and build upon our great tradition of academics … and then the third, in that order — but nonetheless tremendously important — is the ability to win championships. Win Big Ten championships and national championships.”
The scholarship reductions, bowl ban and ability of players to transfer freely conspired to prevent O'Brien from winning a championship in his two seasons, but he finished 15-9 under trying circumstances.
Joyner, whose relationship with O'Brien had been the focus of outside speculation, repeatedly praised the coach who had been an assistant for five seasons with the New England Patriots.
“The environment is whatever the environment is, but Bill handled that very well with grace and style,” said Joyner, who defended the school's decision over the summer to decrease O'Brien's buyout to about $6.6 million. “And I really believe that he loved it here. From the get-go, he looked at himself here as a long termer. But I think just a tremendous opportunity came up for him. I just think the opportunity was too good for him to pass up.”
Besides Joyner, the committee comprises Tom Poole, university vice president for administration; Charmelle Green, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator; Linda Caldwell, faculty athletics representative and distinguished professor; Bob Warming, men's soccer coach; Wally Richardson, a former Nittany Lions quarterback who is the director of the school's Football Letterman's Club.
Joyner's long-term status is in limbo. The university continues its search for a replacement for retiring president Rodney Erickson, and the new president will have control over who is athletic director.
Joyner insisted the lack of certainty surrounding potential superiors would not hinder hiring a new coach.
“Penn State's got a great tradition of great presidents and administrators,” Joyner said, “and I would say to any prospective coach that Penn State will continue with that great tradition no matter who is at the helm and who is head of the university.”
The only player Joyner mentioned by name is quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year who enjoyed a strong relationship with O'Brien and stuck with his commitment to Penn State after the sanctions hit two summers ago.
“Christian Hackenberg is a tremendous asset at Penn State,” Joyner said. “He's just a great person. He's a great student. His maturity is off the chart, as we all know … not just on the field but off the field. So we were very, very interested in Christian Hackenberg as a Penn Stater.”
A 19-member recruiting class that has been ranked among the Big Ten's best also is in limbo. The first day of spring-term classes is Jan. 13, and some recruits were planning on enrolling then.
“We are very encouraged,” Joyner said, “that we can have some very positive … information for them to help them continue here at Penn State.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fleury’s career-best 6th shutout lifts Penguins over Avalanche in overtime
- Rossi: Brawl for ADs between Pitt and WVU
- Clairton students reference positive ‘Frozen’-themed lessons
- Steelers must be creative in providing snaps for linebackers
- Analysis: Misunderstood Chryst served Pitt well
- Time is of essence for Pitt in finding football coach, athletic director
- Veteran tight end Miller’s blocking skill crucial to success to Steelers running game
- Elizabeth Forward marks 35th year of senior holiday breakfast
- McKeesport Area fourth-grader thrilled with gift from White Oak Lions Club
- Pitt offensive coordinator Rudolph still focused on Panthers
- Steelers notebook: Chiefs pass rush to test Steelers