Penn State Football: 5 Candidates to Take over Nittany Lions Football

Damon YoungCorrespondent IINovember 9, 2011

Penn State Football: 5 Candidates to Take over Nittany Lions Football

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    Joe Paterno has coached his last game at Penn State.

    With news of his retirement, effective immediately, and subsequent firing,  who can Penn State turn to that can restore the dignity of the Nittany Lions image?

    There is absolutely no one currently on staff, not even Tom Bradley, who would be a proper successor, and several names jump out immediately.

    Whoever it is will inherit a program ripe to win and get back to being a consistent power in the Big Ten, but also has to be able to work forward and heal a troubled campus.

Al Golden: The Prodigal Son Returns?

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    Everything about Al Golden fits.

    He played at Penn State under Paterno.

    He's a no-nonsense, business oriented coach.

    He's had success at Temple.

    Let me repeat: He's had success at Temple.

    Golden even wears a tie each and every game just like Joe Paterno.

    The only problem is that he's under contract with the Miami Hurricanes. Of course, we have seen just how "binding" those contracts can be, as coaches change locations all the time.

    No one would blame Golden for leaving the Hurricanes program after being blindsided by the impending NCAA investigation involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.

    Golden has continually pledged his commitment to Miami, but there's no doubt the speculation will grow as the season progresses.

    He would be the perfect elixir for a school in turmoil.

    No, he can't right the wrongs of the current officials in charge at Happy Valley, but he would ignite instant excitement and life into the program at a time when it needs it the most.

    He's a Nittany Lions blue blood, and he's a winner, but will he end up in State College?

Urban Meyer: Has He Already Purchased a Home in State College?

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    Urban Meyer is the Big Ten rumor darling.

    In fact, any major program job that opens is ultimately going to be linked to Meyer.

    He was rumored at one point to have already purchased a home in Upper Arlington, OH; maybe he purchased one in State College as well?

    I'm not sold on Urban Meyer working out in the Big Ten or anywhere else again. The spread offense was a disaster at Michigan, and changing the personnel needed to make it work takes time. Plus, you really need a special player like Tim Tebow to make that offense go.

    Meyer is a good coach, but doesn't seem like a good fit at Penn State. But he will have his name linked to the Nittany Lions program no matter what.

Mike Leach: Anyone Want to Air It out in Beaver Stadium?

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    With Houston Nutt out at Ole Miss when the season concludes, Mike Leach has been rumored a possible replacement there, so it only makes sense to lend his name to this job.

    Mike Leach had a very successful run at Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders went bowling in each of his 10 seasons there.

    Leach left Lubbock in controversy after Tech fired him around the Adam James incident.

    Leach doesn't bring the straight and narrow approach our first two candidates possess, but he is a winner.

    His eccentric approach might be a welcome change of pace at Penn State, but I doubt the controversy that has surrounded him would gain him any favor with the Nittany Lions faithful.

Greg Schiano: Ready to Handle the Pressure?

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    Greg Schiano had been rumored for jobs before.

    During Rutgers' storied 2006 season, many thought Schiano would take the reigns at Miami, and in 2007, he was linked with the opening at Michigan.

    From 2005-2009, Schiano led Rutgers to five straight bowl games.

    His overall record currently is 65-66, but let's face it, Rutgers is not an easy place to win football games.

    Schiano's demeanor is a fit for Penn State, but is he suited to coach a smaller program like Rutgers?

    The spotlight at Penn State burns hard and bright, so one has to wonder if he would be able to succeed under the microscope.

Bill Cowher: The Long Shot

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    Whenever a big-name coach, be it college or the NFL, retires when many think he isn't completely done, his name will crop up with any and every opening.

    Cowher is a Pittsburgh Steelers coaching legend.

    His attitude is blue collar, and that fits well with Penn State people.

    The big question is, why?

    Why would Bill Cowher ever want to leave his cush analyst job to take over a college football program standing in the shadows of controversy?

    He really has nothing less to prove and could hand-pick any NFL job that becomes available.

    It's a romantic idea for some, but totally far-fetched. But, you always like to have that long shot out there.

    You never know—Nick Saban said he would not be the coach at Alabama, didn't he?