Penn State is a special place. Any alum will agree with that statement. When people ask the alums what makes it special, few of those alums forget to mention Joe Paterno's name.
The 82-year old-legendary football coach is nearing the end of a fantastic career bleeding the blue and white. His accomplishments on the field have been fantastic.
His generosity off the field has been even better. Paterno and his wife, Sue, have given back so much to the University, like a multimillion dollar addition to the campus library, or building a new spiritual center.
Paterno is so famous on campus that he even has an ice-cream flavor named after him, called "Peachy Paterno."
Everyone would love Paterno to stay on board as the football coach as long as possible. "Joe Pa," as many people call him, would like to continue his regime as well. "I will coach ‘til I am 100 if I have to," Paterno once said.
The bottom line is, Paterno will have to walk away from the game and Penn State someday. This time could come very soon with a large and talented graduating class coming up.
Losing Paterno as head coach will be tough for the storied program. What will be tougher is trying to find the guy to do the best job filling the legend's shoes (and no, not those old black Nike boots). Finding someone to match the qualities of Paterno will be nearly impossible.
Whoever the next coach is at Penn State, he will have to be able to handle the pressure of having one of the toughest jobs in college football. Whoever this person is, he must not only know football—he will also have to know how to work with people and the community.
This individual will have to be student-friendly, media-friendly, and school-friendly. Paterno has always been well known for his ability to be school-oriented. As previously mentioned, he has given back so much money to the University. In addition, his call for student support at the games has paid off.
Whoever his replacement is, may we wish him the best of luck—he will need it. Here are ten possible candidates that would make the most sense for the Nittany Lions coaching job.
1. Bill Cowher (Former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach)
As crazy as it sounds, the rumor has been mentioned plenty of times. Every time we hear the rumor, we wonder more and more. Many experts believe that Cowher cannot handle the wear and tear of the NFL any more.
But will he never coach again?
I doubt it.
Penn State would be the perfect fit for Cowher. He is very good with people and would be very involved with the students and community. Almost any high school player would want to play for the guy. The hiring of Cowher would instantly make Penn State a national title contender.
2. Tom Bradley (Defensive Coordinator for Penn State)
What makes Bradley the best overall candidate for this job is his Penn State connection. He is going into his 30th season on the Penn State staff this year, and he has anchored one of the nation’s top defenses during his tenure.
The 2007 season was the fourth consecutive season in which he coordinated a defense that ranked in the national top 15. What also makes Bradley so special is he played football at Penn State. If Bradley was hired, he would already know what the Penn State way was all about. This would give him a distinct advantage.
3. Greg Schiano (Rutgers Head Coach)
Schiano is an interesting name because everyone knows that this guy is capable of coaching at a more high profile school. The problem is that Schiano is telling Rutgers that he does not plan on leaving anytime soon.
What makes Schiano such an attractive candidate is his way of interacting with the school. He puts the school first, then the football team, just like Paterno. He has made Rutgers a better place in whole. He is not likely to go to Penn State, but it’s always a great thing to imagine.
4. Gregg Williams (Defensive Coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars)
This is a very interesting candidate. Williams has a mind for defense. His defenses have always been among the elite of the NFL every year.
However, his skills as a head coach are questionable. Why? Ask any Buffalo Bills fan. But that is the NFL. College football is different.
What makes Williams attractive is his ability to motivate. Many NFL players have called this guy a motivator. The ideal college football coach is a motivator, a la Jim Tressel. Williams has the qualities it takes to be a college football coach.
5. Kirk Ferentz (Iowa Head Coach)
When is this guy going to leave Iowa? He has made a name for himself, guiding the Hawkeyes to six straight bowl games. Keep in mind that Ferentz has done all of this with not a ton of talent.
His name has been thrown in the mix as a strong candidate at Penn State. But will he ever leave Iowa? He is in his early fifties, so will he want to coach that much longer?
No matter who replaces Paterno at Penn State, that person will have a very difficult task. Guess what everybody—you may soon be witnessing one of the most famous coaching hires in sports history