Penn State has moved away from having trustees and boosters serve on committees that search for new head coaches.
That’s a good move, and we urge the football search committee to remain independent of such influences and to avoid bowing to pressure to consider only candidates with Penn State roots to replace Bill O’Brien.
Nittany Lion ties are certainly worth considering. But the committee must adhere closely to the mission set by Athletic Director Dave Joyner: to find the best coach for Penn State, whether that person is an “insider” with connections to the school’s football legacy or not.
As O’Brien showed, it is not necessary to have blue and white blood in your veins to be successful at Penn State.
Fans and supporters of the football program must realize that and should embrace the next coach even more than they did O’Brien in his two years at the helm.
We can’t hurl “inside baseball” criticisms at the university’s leadership culture and governance practices and then claim that Penn State football must turn back the clock to the old ways.
Joyner said the coach search would last “days rather than weeks.” That’s fine, given pressures to retain current players and star recruits. But we hope the group doesn’t trade thoroughness for expedience.
Joyner will lead the search committee. He’ll be joined by Tom Poole, the university’s vice president for administration; Charmelle Green, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator; Linda Caldwell, a distinguished professor and faculty athletics representative; Bob Warming, head soccer coach; and Wally Richardson, a former Penn State quarterback who directs the football lettermen’s club.
Joyner would not discuss specifics of the search, including any names on the group’s early short list. But the names floating around include several former Penn State players and assistants.
Perhaps the best candidate is in that mix. Perhaps it’s someone we’ve not heard of.
Prior to his being introduced as head coach in early 2012, O’Brien’s was hardly a household name. Yet he guided the program to a pair of winning seasons under the shadow of NCAA sanctions and player defections.
When asked how important Penn State ties would be in screening candidates, Joyner said such a background “is not a requirement, but will be part of the thought process.”
That’s fair, and we support his pledge to seek out an individual who will embody integrity, academics and championships — with football success “third in that order, but also tremendously important.”
Yes it is, and in finding someone to uphold the ideals of academics and integrity and to achieve success on the field, Penn State should consider those who played or coached under the late Joe Paterno — and those who did not.
Of the decision to keep trustees and donors off the committee, Joyner said the university “just felt it to be a best practice.”
We agree, and we urge the search group, which comprises three members of the group that chose O’Brien, to appreciate the past while taking an open-minded approach to the future.
“Some consistencies are necessary,” Joyner said of the search group. “Having said that, it’s never a bad thing, as good as people are, to change things out and get new perspectives.”