Penn State Head Coach Recruiting Update

The previous post was inspired by my brother’s holiday recap of highlights in his life for 2013, in which he facetiously sent a blank page. While there have been developments in the Penn State coaching search, most of the “news” out there consists of rumors, innuendo, and flat-out fabrications.

A clue as to why that is the case can be gleaned from Russ Rose’s commentary in an article about his service on a prior search committee at Penn State. He said that agents are the culprits in planting stories about their clients to gain bargaining advantage. That’s part of it, no doubt. Another part is the gullibility of the audience involved and the great amplification factor of social media. Yeah, the twittiots give rumors a prolonged existence with a much greater half-life than ever before.

I, too, have been guilty of jumping on rumors. It’s all too easy to do. I’m going to try to stick to substantiated facts here, and if I choose to opine on something, I’m going to make it clear that it is my opinion and not fact.

Here’s where we stand, or at least where I think we stand.

First, on Al Golden, Miami athletic director Blake James said that he expects Golden to stay in Miami, for what that’s worth. It is thought that Golden was interviewed for the Penn State job yesterday, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, but he has been unresponsive to media probes. Golden, in my humble opinion, remains Numero Uno on the Penn State wish list.

James Franklin was to be interviewed today, and I believe this is still the plan. It makes sense for a few reasons. He couldn’t be interviewed any earlier than today because he had to prepare for a bowl game. He is also a minority candidate; interviewing at least one would be essential in a search conducted by a public university. However, I do not believe that this is just a token interview. They don’t have to go to Nashville to interview a minority candidate — they have Larry Johnson, to whom they owe at least a courtesy interview. Franklin is also a sought after coach, albeit a somewhat controversial one because of the rape incident involving his players, and was probably (in my opinion) Number Two on the Joyner committee’s list after Golden. However, Franklin might be NFL minded or at least testing the water there, having interviewed with the Houston Texans, according to Adam Schefter, and having been contacted by the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins. I think that the NFL minority initiative would require minority candidates to be interviewed, so this doesn’t necessarily indicate serious interest on either side.

Mike Munchak has been an on-again, off again potential candidate. On Friday, it was likely that he would be retained by the NFL Tennessee Titans, but on Saturday he was fired. He apparently balked at  the proposed terms under which he could stay with the Titans. Now, Penn State will interview Munchak today for the head coaching job, according to Chris Mortensen, which makes sense because the committee would be in Nashville, anyway, to interview Franklin. Munchak is presumably (and temporally) Number Three on their list.

And then, there are the rest. As I mentioned above, I expect Larry Johnson to be given a courtesy interview, but not to be hired. That’s my opinion. And what of Greg Schiano? Haven’t heard bupkis about him. Jim Caldwell interviewed for the Detroit Lions head coaching job on Friday, according to Ian Rapoport.

One final, unrelated O’Brien update. According to a “source” Penn State director of player development Jim Bernhardt will join the Houston Texans staff.

In the words of my elementary school principal, the evil Miss Patterson, “That is all. Thank you.”


  1. Joe says

    Not to many lights on in the Lausch Building tonight (I think the showers are even dark). Looks like LJ, Mac & Strollo are the only one’s left holding down the fort.

    Fitz took off with his two assistants and our prayers have been answered BUTLER RESIGNED!!!! I know be careful what you wish for, but even our HS coach can do better than him.

    • says

      The night of the long knives — or maybe Dunkirk. I figured we’d lose a lot of O’Brienites, but I also figured that whoever takes over would want his own guys, too, so this way it just makes his decisions easier.


  2. Joe says

    NT, do you know if there is any limit in the NFL on coaching staff size? I know the NCAA is 9.

    Seems weird that a new NFL coach would bring almost his entire college staff with him to the Big Show. I know these guys bring a certain comfort level for OB, but maybe he just likes being surrounded by his “yes men”.

    • says

      To my knowledge, there is no limit on staff size. There are some huge collections of assistant coaches out there, like Tampa Bay with 23. Did it help Schiano? Hell, no!

      O’Brien could have waited a couple of days and got Parlavecchio and Matthews. Absent Munchak, they’re on the street.

      But if PSU gets Munchak, he will have his boys, too.

      O’Brien is being kind to those who helped him on the way up. He’ll need them again on the way down. But seriously, I’m not going to denigrate O’Brien’s staff before I see results. They might all be NFL material, for all I know. I’m not equipped to judge that, but I trust that O’Brien is.

      Was there some indication that they were yes-men at PSU, or by labeling them thus, are you exuding oblique, passive-aggressive sour grapes over O’Brien’s hasty departure?


  3. Joe says

    I don’t think so, but I for one have no clue what lurks in the depths of my psyche. I guess it’s just strange to me that guys like Butler and Midget would fit into an NFL program based on the product I saw on Saturdays last season, but what the hell do I know. Granted they were light in depth and perhaps over rated talent wise, but I remember Butler stating after one of the losses (OSU?) that he had run out of ideas. As I understand it he’s going to the Texans to coach “the secondary”, so perhaps there is some recognition on OB’s part that he just isn’t ready for the DC spot yet.

    Nah, no sour grapes. As I’ve said before this was inevitable and happens everywhere across college football when an HC leaves. Coaches also want to surround themselves with guys who they can trust and will do what is directed and not buck the system (like Vandy & Fischer supposedly did).

    Or maybe they’re just the best guys available right now for those positions.

    In the end OB will be judged on play-off appearances and championships, so we’ll know the results of his choices and coaching acumen in a couple of years.

    • says

      Yeah, hard to tell, but Butler could turn out to be a defensive secondary genius if he gets some pro talent to work with. Then, some Sanguinarians will become convinced that his malfeasance at Penn State was a conspiracy or something.

      I really want to write something to shut Mike Poorman up about Golden. He’s driving me up a tree spreading that shit he pulls out of his ass. Many PSU people got pissed off when O’Brien reaffirmed his commitment to the kids and then did a 180; now, we’re going to excuse Golden if he does the same? Poorman is “72% sure” Golden is being insincere about liking it in Miami and wanting to stay? Where the hell does he get off with that crap?

      Munchak appears to be the leader of the pack, as interview details either reported or made up by David Jones suggests. If they haven’t already talked with LJ, that should happen today (just my unsubstantiated feel). If my thinking is correct, we’ll probably know something definitive by Thursday, but in the meanwhile I’m not going to fly off in otherwise speculative directions. There might yet be a mystery candidate of whom no one is aware.


  4. Joe says

    Well the “interweb” is abuzz that PS is going to offer Franklin! Man, where do you get gigs like these! Poorman, Flounders, your best bud Jones, and every other Tom, Dick & Harry web site that has “sources”. I think these guys get up in the morning, take a shit and read the Jimmy floaters for the basis of their column.

    It will be what it will be. I think the search committee did and is doing a good thing keeping their yaps shut during this process and everyone has to remember that we paid $6M for Louie Freeh to tell us how to search for a coach, president, AD, etc and by God, I’m glad we aren’t wasting the money we paid him to implement his sage advice.

    I do agree with you, I think Thursday/Friday we’ll have a new HC named.

    And if it is Franklin, you can include him in your rant about Golden (although to my knowledge Franklin didn’t say he was staying so maybe he gets a pass!)

    • says

      I can include him in my rant about Poorman, who said it wouldn’t be Franklin, because of the number of stickers on his proverbial suitcase. However, the respected Tennessean has reported that Franklin will be offered the job, so they’re soon to be losing all that respect if they’re wrong. Their flimsy source is, which itself cites “sources”.

      Freeh, eh? Another thing I’m not writing about is the crap going on with him. I wish that would all go away. Seems to serve no purpose moving forward.


    • says

      “Sources” tell me that Munchak will interview for the Detroit Lions’ head coaching job on Friday, which, if true, suggests that PSU gave him an indication that he wasn’t going to get the job (if our assumptions about Thursday/Friday are true). Or not. I’m so confused. That report came from Adam Schefter.

    • says

      I’m not counting it as a done deal until the crap dies down. The ESPN “scoop” was based on the same Scranton reportage I’ve been seeing since yesterday. It could be true, but it could still be bullshit. After all, the crazies froze their balls at the airport hoping Franklin would step off that bizjet with Joyner and Erickson, but the two tin soldiers walked alone. Perhaps Franklin is still in the cargo hold and they forgot about him.

      Look for an announcement today or tomorrow that Matt Millen, Don Jonas, or John McCay will be the next head coach at Penn State.


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