“I love my alma mater, but I have no interest in being the head coach at Penn State. I never want to leave Tennessee.”
Those were the very black-and-white words of Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak, uttered in the middle of this past week and in the midst of swirling speculation that he would become the next head coach at his alma mater.
While his public words came off as a very vehement, no-gray-area denial, that’s apparently not the case behind the scenes. Reportedly.
According to ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, and citing a source close to the NFL coach, Munchak is struggling with the decision to either stay with the Titans — an organization he’s been a part of for the past three decades as a player and coach — or returning to Happy Valley to help repair a football program whose image has taken a beating the past two months or so thanks to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal. That apparent indecision has left the Nittany Lions with the feeling they can still reel in an individual who’s the perceived front-runner to replace Joe Paterno.
“He loves his school and his heart is torn,” the source told Schad. “He really fits what they want and need to a tee.”
So, is it possible Munchak is still a candidate? Based on his very strong denial, no. Based on the fact that some/most coaches say one thing when in fact they’re contemplating the exact opposite, it’s absolutely possible. It wouldn’t be the first time an NFL head coach said one thing and did another, right Miami Dolphins fans?
The source went on to tell Schad that the situation should be resolved within the next week or so, one way or the other. The Titans play their regular-season finale Sunday and, barring an updated version of the Music City Miracle, will miss out on a playoff berth.
If Munchak did indeed mean what he said in his public denial and is not a candidate, Schad writes that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano could be viable replacements for Paterno. Schiano has already publicly denied any interest in the job, for what it’s worth.