Penn State Football: Who Should Be the Nittany Lions Next Head Coach?

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2011

Penn State Football: Who Should Be the Nittany Lions Next Head Coach?

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    The Penn State Nittany Lions have been heavily scrutinized following the sex abuse allegations facing former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

    Sandusky has not been the only person affected.

    Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary are no longer members of the Penn State coaching staff. Tim Curley is no longer Penn State's athletic director, and Gary Schultz is no longer the Vice President of Business and Finance for the university.

    Other heads could possibly roll in the future, including Tom Bradley's. Bradley has stepped up from his defensive coordinator position to head coach for the remainder of the 2011 season.

    Bradley will fill Paterno's shoes, at least for the time being. However, his future beyond this season is still up in the air.

    Here are nine people who should be considered for the Penn State head coaching position.

Greg Schiano

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    Greg Schiano is the current Rutgers head coach and a former Penn State assistant.

    Schiano served under Joe Paterno as a graduate assistant in 1990. He then became the Penn State defensive backs coach from 1991-1995.

    Rutgers is 66-66 since Schiano's arrival in 2001. They are also 4-1 in bowl matchups.

    The Scarlet Knights are a much smaller college football program than the Nittany Lions. Schiano's success in the regular season would be better with a nationally recognized program.

    Considering Schiano's Penn State ties, the Nittany Lions should consider him to take over the helm. He is 45 years old and could be a long-term solution for Penn State.

Kirk Ferentz

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    Kirk Ferentz is the head coach for the Iowa Hawkeyes. He does not have direct ties to Penn State, but he has had three family members come through the Nittany Lion program.

    Ferentz is a Pennsylvania guy, and his experience at Iowa makes him very familiar with Penn State and the Big Ten.

    He is 95-64 since arriving in Iowa in 1999. His Hawkeyes play hard-nosed football and prepare with a defensive mindset.

    Ferentz's attitude would be a perfect match for Penn State.

    Coming out of high school, Ferentz considered walking on at Penn State to play for Joe Paterno. How would he feel about succeeding the legendary Penn State coach?

Al Golden

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    Al Golden is the current head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

    Golden was a Nittany Lion tight end from 1987-1991. He was also the Penn State linebackers coach in 2000.

    He does not have much head coaching experience. He is in his first season for Miami, and coached Temple for five seasons prior to that.

    Golden is 32-39 overall, as a head coach. His teams are 0-1 in bowl matchups.

    Sure, Golden is still green in terms of head coaching experience. However, his age and undeniable Penn State ties make him a very alluring possibility to take over the Penn State sidelines.

Gary Brown

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    Gary Brown is the current running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns. He is definitely an outside choice, but the Nittany Lions should consider any possible candidate at this point.

    Brown graduated from Penn State in 1990. He went onto a solid, but brief, NFL career for three different teams.

    He has coached running backs at Lycoming College, Rutgers and the Cleveland Browns. He was also the offensive coordinator for Susquehanna University from 2006-2007.

    Brown has no head coaching experience. He would definitely be a stretch, but he is young and would bring an upbeat attitude to a downtrodden program.

    Again, Penn State should not discount any possible candidate.

Pat Fitzgerald

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    Pat Fitzgerald has been the Northwestern head coach since 2006.

    He is 36 years old, defensive minded and has tremendous upside as a leader.

    Fitzgerald has led Northwestern to a 39-34 record during his tenure. The Wildcats are 0-3 in bowl matchups during that period.

    The Wildcats have not enjoyed immense success under Fitzgerald, but they are always competitive. Fitzgerald brings a tenacious, never-say-die attitude to the field.

    He may not have ties to the Penn State program, but his age and mindset would make him a very intriguing coaching prospect.

Mike London

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    Mike London is the current head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers. Prior to that, London was the head coach for the Richmond Spiders.

    London was very successful in Richmond. He won the Division I National Championship in 2008 and was named FCS Coach of the Year that season. In 2009, the Spiders were CAA co-champions.

    Virginia is bowl-eligible under London this season. The Cavaliers have not been bowl-eligible since 2007. His recruiting abilities and blue-collar playing style are huge bonuses to his team.

    He has a 34-16 overall head coaching record.

    Penn State officials have reportedly reached out to London already. Regardless of his interest now, Penn State should keep this up-and-coming coach in the mix as long as possible.

Mike Munchak

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    Mike Munchak was a Penn State offensive lineman from 1978-1981. Currently, he is the head coach of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

    Under Munchak, the Titans are currently 5-4.

    Outside of Tennessee, Munchak has no head coaching experience. However, he was an excellent player and has held several assistant coaching positions.

    Munchak may be hesitant to leave his gig in the NFL. Either way, Penn State should reach out to their former second team All-American.

    If he is interested, Penn State would have a shot at a solid coach with his better days in front of him.

Urban Meyer

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    Urban Meyer is an age-old Penn State rumor at this point. Penn State fans pine for the former Florida, Bowling Green and Utah head coach.

    Meyer is 104-23 as a head coach. His teams are 7-1 in bowl games, including his two BCS national championships with Florida.

    He was named coach of the year twice at Utah. He was also named coach of the decade by The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated in 2009.

    In terms of credentials, no one is more qualified than Meyer. His presence alone would silence doubts concerning Penn State football.

    Penn State would immediately be a powerhouse, and their recruiting would reflect that.

    Meyer is not quiet concerning his respect for Joe Paterno. What better way to pay homage to Paterno than to make sure his program is in good hands?

Stick with Tom Bradley

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    Tom Bradley is currently Penn State's interim head coach after serving as Joe Paterno's defensive coordinator for 12 years. 

    Bradley is Penn State through and through. He was a Penn State defensive back in 1977, became a graduate assistant in 1979 and was named a Penn State assistant in 1980. He held that position until 1999, when he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

    The Nittany Lions could look outside the program for their new head coach, or they could hand the reins to the man who knows the program as well as anyone.

    Bradley has enormous respect for Penn State and former head coach Joe Paterno.

    If anyone knows how to handle the Penn State football program through a critical time, it would be him.

    Bradley's connection to the Paterno era could hurt him at this point. However, the Nittany Lions should be careful not to overlook a very loyal and successful member of their current coaching staff.