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PSU search committee member discusses Franklin hiring

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State football coach James Franklin talks with fan Ed Hill of Altoona before the wrestling match against Purdue on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, at Recreation Hall in University Park.

About Jason Mackey

By Jason Mackey

Published: Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, 9:51 p.m.

Bob Warming was honored that Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner asked him to serve on the six-person search committee charged with finding former football coach Bill O'Brien's replacement.

But if the Nittany Lions men's soccer coach never serves on such a committee again, he wouldn't be heartbroken.

“I hope James is our coach until long after I retire,” Warming said a few hours after former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin was introduced as the 16th coach in Penn State history. “It was a very unique experience. It was an eye-opening experience. It gave me a lot of faith in where we're headed at Penn State.”

Joyner announced the formation of a search committee Jan. 2, the day O'Brien officially left for the Houston Texas.

Speaking in general terms throughout the interview, Warming said the committee met often to discuss potential hires.

“It felt like one continual meeting,” he said. “By the time you're flying around on jets and eating in various restaurants, it seemed like it never ended.”

Some candidates were interviewed in person, Warming said.

Warming declined to reveal specifics of how the committee came up with its list of candidates, saying it would take too long.

“There are so many factors involved with that,” he said. “There are a lot of great coaches out there, and you have to make sure they're the ones who are a great fit with Penn State.”

Despite four of Franklin's former players being charged with rape — and a fifth pleading guilty to helping cover up the alleged crime — authorities cleared Franklin of wrongdoing. Warming said Franklin's references checked out.

“The university has a process with background checks that's pretty darn extensive,” he said. “People vouched for him who are people of such high integrity and respect.”

Replacing O'Brien, who went 15-9 amid record NCAA sanctions, will be no small task, Warming said.

“Bill O'Brien was an exceptional man and did a lot for the university,” Warming said. “For me, Bill was probably the greatest example of leadership I've seen on my 40 years on college campuses.

“Sanctions? OK, we'll make every game a bowl game. My best players can leave without repercussions? All right. Next man up. Kicker misses four at Virginia? I have to do a better job coaching.

“He dealt with a death of an icon (in Joe Paterno). Bill was incredible.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.




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