Penn State Football: Why Mike Munchak Is Not the Right Answer in Happy Valley

Tim Tolley@@TimTolley_BRContributor IJanuary 7, 2014

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 3: Head coach Mike Munchak of the Tennessee Titans looks on from the sideline during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 3, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Titans beat the Rams 28-21. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Penn State's search for its next head coach is dragging on a little longer than most fans expected. It wasn't that expectations were unreasonable. According to Dustin Hockensmith of, athletic director Dave Joyner said in a press conference that he anticipated that the search would take "a matter of days, not weeks."

That was five days ago, so technically he is still right, but "days" is quickly approaching that "week" mark.

For those of you who remember the last search, you know that Joyner is capable of stretching "week" into "weeks." The search for Joe Paterno's replacement in 2011 and 2012 lasted nearly two months.

Despite that, and the lingering effect that not having a coach may have on recruiting, it's important that Joyner and his search committee take their time and make the right hire.

The right hire is not Mike Munchak.

Over the last few days, Penn State has interviewed the members on its short list of candidates. According to David Jones of, the recently fired coach of the Tennessee Titans got his shot on Sunday and impressed the committee.

Fortunately, the search committee wasn't blown away enough to make a snap judgement and offer him the job. Yet.

While Munchak's track record is respectable enough and he is a Penn State alum, he is not the right guy to be handed the keys to Penn State's football program.

The Scranton, PA, native has been in coaching since he retired in 1993. According to, he first served as an offensive assistant in Houston, then took over the offensive line coaching for 14 years (1997-2010) before becoming the head coach for the same organization in 2011.

As the head coach of the Titans, Munchak compiled a record of 22-26 while playing in what can be considered a poor division. The other three teams in the AFC South were a combined 59-85 in that span. The Titans' average rank in scoring offense was 24th during that time.

Aside from his struggles as a head coach, Munchak has never been a coordinator or coached a single seasonnot even as a graduate assistantat the college level.

While football is football, recruiting is an art form learned only from years of experience. Munchak has none.

There is something to be said about the impact an NFL Hall of Famer could have at the head coaching position, but let's be honest, not all Hall of Famers are seen in the same light. There's a difference between Steve Young, Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Mike Munchak.

If I have trouble sleeping tonight, I'll just imagine Mike Munchak as Penn State's coach. Zzzzzzz...

— JoePa's Doghouse (@RowlffDogg) January 6, 2014

Munchak played offensive guard. He retired 20 years ago. Outside of Penn State fans and diehard NFL fans, how many people recognize the name and associate it with the Hall of Fame?

Billy Shaw, John Hannah and Joe Delamielleure are a few of the other offensive guards recently inducted into the Hall of Fame

With all due respect to Munchak and his accomplishments, if his name was Tom Jones and he went to Wake Forest, he wouldn't be a candidate for this job.

Why should his Penn State ties make such a difference?

Penn State fans, recently scolded by the perceived betrayal of Bill O'Brien, are afraid of becoming a "stepping stone job" that has to replace a head coach every few years. The idea of bringing in a "Penn State guy" would theoretically prevent that from happening.

There's no reason to think Munchak would move on for another job, that's for sure. Unless he was fired.

If Munchak wasn't a Penn State legend, would he be a top candidate given his 22-26 NFL record and no college coaching/recruiting experience?

— Phil Gianficaro (@philgianficaro) January 7, 2014

There's an argument to be made, though, that a coach moving on to take a better job is a positive in some ways. 

Whether it be O'Brien going to Houston, Charlie Strong going to Texas from Louisville or Steve Sarkisian leaving Washington for USC, one factor remains consistent: success.

When coaches move on to a better job, it's a direct product of success. O'Brien undeniably left Penn State in better shape than it was in when he arrived. The same can be said for Strong and Sarkisian at their former jobs.

As a fan, isn't that all you can ask for? A head coach who comes in and improves the program?

Dave Joyner and his process were successful the last time a coaching hire was made. O'Brien was not a household name, but was without a doubt the right man for the job.

If the next coach that comes in has similar success and then leaves for the NFL, you could make a case that Joyner actually knows what he's doing. 

That should give fans enough confidence to not worry about tenure. Coaching changes happen. The days of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno are gone. Coaching changes are a part of the game.

Fear of a different coach leaving after a couple of years is not a good reason to hire Munchak. Neither is his resume.


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