While it may still take a week or more to name their new head coach, it appears Penn State has zeroed in on a replacement for the legendary Joe Paterno.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak is the top choice of PSU’s search committee to become the Nittany Lions permanent head coach. This report comes on the heels of one from the Patriot-News last night, with that paper writing that “[h]igh-level donors have been buzzing as if Munchak’s hiring is a done deal” and an agent with coaches as clients stating in a text to the paper that “a lot of NFL people think it’s Munchak.”
With the Titans in the midst of a hunt for a playoff spot, Munchak’s only public comments on the speculation is he’s focused on the task at hand and, in essence, he has not been in contact with university officials. Tennessee will know their playoff fate this weekend, which could allow this situation involving Munchak to play itself to a conclusion one way or the other early next week.
Interim head coach Tom Bradley stated in an interview recently that the search committee said a new head coach would not be named until after the Nittany Lions’ bowl game; Penn State will play Houston in the TicketCity Bowl this coming Monday.
Munchak would appear to be the ideal candidate for the job: an individual familiar enough with the tradition of the Penn State program but with enough time and distance from the school — his final season as a Nittany Lions player was in 1981 — that he’s not “tainted” by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. One of Munchak’s former teammates seems to agree.
“Mike would be a great fit,” ex-PSU running back Curt Warner told the paper. “He’s a Penn State guy. I don’t think any of his old teammates would be upset about him getting the job at all. He has my support. I’d love to see him get it.”
In addition to Munchak, the Post-Gazette reports that Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements “appears to be the second choice in case Munchak opts to remain in the NFL.” Also a former player, Clements reportedly interviewed for the job and has made it very clear publicly that he wants the position.
UPDATED 9:36 a.m. ET: In a text to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Munchak wrote that “[n]othing is going on-people like to speculate.”
That sound you may have heard was Nick Saban nodding his head in approval.