Athletic director Dr. Dave Joyner announced Thursday that a national search for Penn State's next football coach is underway. He has assembled a six-person search committee, which includes himself as chair, and he hopes to have the Nittany Lions' 16th head coach hired within "days, rather than a matter of weeks."
At his press conference in the Beaver Stadium press room -- sitting at the same dais Bill O'Brien conducted his in-season press conferences before recently leaving the university to coach the Houston Texans -- Joyner said Penn State will conduct a "robust" search for O'Brien's replacement.
The AD said head coaching experience is "desirable", and he also said the committee will consider candidates with Penn State ties. But, he said, "it's not a requirement going forward, but it is something that will be in the thought process in the selection of the next coach. Our job is to select, regardless of a person's history, the next great head coach at Penn State and to (hire) the best head coach available."
- Joyner announced the five other members of the search committee, and said they are "very encouraged" they'll have a deal in place with a coach by the time classes start Jan. 13. Joyner could not give a "firm date."
"There were some things we learned last time," Joyner said. "We were very deliberate. We are going to be deliberate this time, too, but faster."
Here are the five other members:
- Dr. Linda Caldwell
Faculty Athletics Representative, Distinguished Professor
- Charmelle Green
Associate athletic Director, Senior Woman Administrator
- Dr. Tom Poole
Vice President for Administration
- Wally Richardson
Director, Penn State Football Letterman's Club
- Bob Warming
Head Coach, Men's Soccer
Green is the only member who served on the committee that hired O'Brien two years ago. Joyner also confirmed that search committees at Penn State "won't have donors or board members on search committees going forward. (It's) just as a matter of practice."
- Joyner confirmed that defensive line coach Larry Johnson will serve as the interim head coach until a permanent coach is named. Joyner said Johnson is "an excellent leader who has a long history with Penn State. He's got the respect of both recruits and the student-athletes who are already here. He'll be a solid base for us as we continue to get through this."
Joyner also said Johnson would be considered by the search committee, if, of course, Johnson was interested in being a head coach.
"If Coach Johnson wants to get into the mix, he will be very much welcomed," Joyner said. "We'll certainly give strong consideration to someone of his stature."
If Johnson doesn't throw his name into the hat, Joyner said he would encourage the next head coach to retain the longtime PSU assistant. Joyner did not disclose any names of possible candidates, but he said integrity, the ability to "build upon our tradition of academics", and the ability to win championships will be traits that the committee will look for.
- Joyner also reiterated the importance Christian Hackenberg to Penn State's football program.
"Christian Hackenberg is a tremendous asset to Penn State as a human being," Joyner said. "Great person, great student. His maturity level is off the charts -- on and off the field. I think Christian will tell you he came here because of Penn State. He loved Bill O'Brien, but the university itself had a lot of bearing on him coming here. Our job for Christian and all the athletes is to get the best coach possible for them. We make our pledge to do that and do that in a compacted time frame."
- Joyner was noncommittal when asked about his long-term future as the university's athletic director. "Today is about the future of football," he replied. "I've said for two years that I am here to serve Penn State for as long as they'll need my services."
Here is another comment from Joyner about the direction of Penn State's administration, including the status of president Rodney Erickson, who is expected to retire after the Spring 2014 semester.
"It's no secret that Erickson will be stepping down no later than June," Joyner said. "Transitions occur all over the place and at different times. Penn State's got a great tradition of good presidents and administrators and will continue with that tradition no matter who is at the helm."