Penn State Football: Team Should Postpone Head Coaching Search Immediately

Joe RogersContributor IIIDecember 10, 2011

Penn State Football: Team Should Postpone Head Coaching Search Immediately

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    Wanted: Head Football Coach

    Pennsylvania State University is currently seeking a qualified individual for the full-time appointment of head football coach.

    The primary duties of this position will focus on the rebuilding and overall development of the football program's image.

    Other duties will include the successful recruitment of qualified student athletes that will represent the university ultra-competitively in the Big Ten Conference and on a national level, while keeping the primary focus on the academic integrity that is required at Penn State. 

    Salary: $20,000.00 annually 

    Oops! Scratch that salary.

    While you're at it, discontinue this entire ad immediately.

    The last time Penn State was in need of a new head football coach was in the year 1966. Joe Paterno, the bespectacled 15-year assistant, was offered the position following the retirement of his mentor, Rip Engle, whom he followed to the sleepy little town of State College from Brown University.

    There, Engle was the head coach and Paterno played the quarterback and cornerback positions.

    The salary—$20,000.

    And it was procured with a mere handshake. No contract.

    That was the last time Penn State was in need of a new head coach, and I believe it should remain that way...for now.

    Just days after the university announced the formation of a six-member search committee (only one member with connections to the football program, mind you) to seek out a full-time replacement, newly anointed university president Rod Erickson said he had hoped to hire a new coach before the Nittany Lions Ticket City Bowl game against Houston.

    According to the Fujita Scale, which is used to rate the intensity of a tornado by examining the damage it has caused, the tornado of turmoil that hit Happy Valley a little over a month ago is somewhere along the lines of a F-6.

    Or simply...inconceivable.

    To try and name a successor and cleanup crew in such a short amount of time would be an immeasurable mistake that would most likely lengthen the program's restoration project considerably.

    There is an old saying: "Marry in haste and everyone starts counting the months."

    We all have come to the realization that Penn State football will no longer be the same.

    How can it be?

    But for the sake of Erickson and his committee (joined by Jordan are an investment manager, three career academicians and a woman's volleyball coach), they better get this one right.  

    The following are several factors, listed in no particular order, that are needed to be taken into account if they are to proceed as scheduled in replacing the legendary Joe Vincent Paterno, still affectionately know as JoePa.


Money, Money, Money

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    The landscape of college football has changed drastically since 1966, when Joe Paterno shook hands and accepted that $20,000 salary from then-athletic director Ernie McCoy.

    As a result of his legendary coaching career, his fondness for the university and its students and his philanthropic practices, he is responsible for much more than just the construction of the library that still bears his name. 

    Among other things, he is solely responsible for the "Paternoville" and "Fantasyland" establishments found on the central Pennsylvania campus. 

    "Paternoville," established in 2005, is a small village comprised of students living in tents for a period of a few days in hopes of acquiring a rail-side seat when Gate A of Beaver Stadium opens Saturday mornings for the more anticipated games on the schedule.

    The exact date of establishment for "Fantasyland" remains unknown, but we can assume it dates back to the  1980s.

    The Nittany Lions bring in excess of $70 million in football-related revenue but continue to pay nowhere in the vicinity of market value for their coaching staff, distorting the realities of today's big time football coaches' costs.

    According to a recent article published on ESPN, Joe Paterno's 2011 salary placed him 11th among the Big Ten's head coaches, nearly $3 million behind Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and surprisingly behind Ohio State's young interim, Luke Fickell. 

    If Penn State is going to remain competitive, they will have to triple Paterno's previous salary and increase the assistants' considerably.  One only has to look at the digits on Urban Meyer's freshly-inked contract which calls for the possibility to earn over $32 million for six seasons, not to mention a private plane, a $1,200 monthly car allowance, and a $250,000 allowance for moving expenses.

    I could move Mt. Rushmore for less.

    If school administrators are not willing to cough up the cash, the Nittany Lions football job will begin to resemble that of its basketball program—merely a challenge and stepping stone to a better job (not that any hoops coaches have gotten any lately).

    And that will not sit too well with the Blue and White Nation.

    There has been a superabundance of former Nits in the NFL and many more that have become wealthy outside of the game. Had Paterno been treated a little more fairly in their eyes, they may have been willing to donate to the Penn State cause in finding the best possible replacement, regardless of money. 

    This is a practice held at many of the nation's elite programs.

    In my heart, I believe it is a little too late for that. Just ask Fanco Harris.

    "Fanatsyland" is about to close, folks!

Keeping Recruits

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    Since the child sex scandal rocked the once prestigious program and the board of trustees ousted its legendary leader over the phone, the Nits have lost commitments from two of its most treasured recruits.

    Offensive lineman Joey O'Connor of Windsor, Colorado and tight end J.P. Holtz of Pittsburgh have de-committed, and many more may follow in their footsteps.

    Noah Spence, a defensive end and the fourth-ranked recruit in the country, whom many thought would be displaying his skills inside Beaver Stadium next year, has said he wants nothing to do with the program.

    He is still most likely to showcase his abilities at Beaver Stadium next year, albeit in an Ohio State uniform, as he has become one of newly-named coach Urban Meyer's top recruiting priorities.

    Tom Bradley and Ron Vanderlinden are continuing to be very active in the recruitment of many uncommitted. A dozen or so of the already-committed players may be wavering, such as future quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg of St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia, son of Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

    Guaranteeing Bradley at least one full season would give the recruiting process the shot in the arm it definitely needs right now.

    Removing him immediately after the Houston game is liable to leave the cupboards bare for the next coach. Bradley has  spent a few years building great relationships with a lot of these young athletes, as he was one of Paterno's leading men when it came to recruiting.

    This is not a good situation for the kids, either.

    As time rolls on, commitments are made and scholarships become more scarce at the other schools on their short lists. This may leave recruits scrambling to find a place to call home for the next four or five years and more often than not, it is a program they never would have considered.


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    Image is everything.

    And the image of the Penn State program that comes to mind for most is not a good one. 

    Unfortunately, hiring a former FBI director (Louis Freeh) was probably a step in the right direction.

    This is something they never wanted to have to act on, but it shows the public that Penn State means business and is very serious about removing the debris and cleaning up the mess.

    And sure, pledging a portion of their bowl income to charities for sex abuse victims was another good move (although I believe they could have done a little better than the reported $1.5 million).

    But there is plenty more that needs to be done, and it takes public relation firms a great deal of time to develop an image campaign. 

    If these six characters have not employed one yet, maybe they should do so immediately.

    Otherwise, take your time.

    In time, transparency will develop and hopefully everyone will see that Penn State and its football program was comprised of a lot more good than evil.

    If they jump the gun and try to create this new image in a matter of a few weeks, they will be limiting their possibilities and look quite amateurish. 


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    So they missed the boat on Urban Meyer. 

    That's going to hurt. It may haunt them season after season after...well, you get the drift.

    Al Golden, once thought to be a likely candidate to replace Joe Paterno, recently signed on for an additional four years at Miami, taking his current deal to the end of the 2020 season. 

    It's safe to say he is not leaving the Sunshine state anytime soon.

    Chris Peterson, the BCS buster, may feel there is no greener pastures than the ones he has currently in Boise. Peterson once again turned down plenty of green (a reported $3 million) to remain with the Broncos, spurning his latest pursuers at UCLA.

    It is very doubtful he would want anything to do with Penn State at this time.

    Kevin Sumlin, the man who will be standing 53 yards across from the Lions at the Cotton Bowl when his Cougars take on Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl, has in the past week alone turned down head jobs at Arizona State and UCLA and is rumored to be Illinois' leading candidate. 

    Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State head coach, was rumored to be the committee's "it" guy, but he has since blamed that one on Ole Miss reps trying to sway recruits away from Stark Vegas and into Oxford.

    He has stated he has not been contacted by anyone from Penn State.

    Darren Perry, the former Nittany Lion safety and current Green Bay Packers assistant, is said to also be a candidate.

    Next, please!

    There are only a few sure bets as far as coaches go in this game—Meyer, Saban, Stoops and Miles.  And unlike Santa, none of those are coming to town.

    Tom Bradley can win if given the opportunity. He has been around the historic program with the winning tradition in some capacity since 1977, long enough to realize what the keys to success are and how to obtain them.

    People will come. They'll come to Happy Valley for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up in the parking lots not knowing for sure why they're there.

    They'll arrive at Beaver Stadium as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, the university won't mind—they are getting $80 a ticket. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have and peace they lack.

    And they'll walk out to the bleachers and sit in short sleeves on a perfect fall afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the sidelines where they sat when they were children and cheered on their heroes.

    And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come.

    The one constant through all the years has been Penn State football.  

    This field, this game—it's a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. People will come. People will most definitely come.

    However, if you rush into this thing, maybe they won't.