The search for a new Penn State head coach may not take much longer than it did to lose the previous one, in the end.
Earlier today, Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said university officials will work on a timetable of days, not weeks, in finding and naming a successor for Bill O’Brien, who left to lead the NFL’s Houston Texans.
It was first reported last Saturday that O’Brien and the Texans were in serious negotiations; three days later, just before the New Year rung in, word leaked that he accepted the position.
“We had been working with Bill and his folks to try to make his contract and arrangement as advantageous as we could,” Joyner said. “Bill was presented with a tremendous opportunity that he could not pass up.”
The process of settling on O’Brien in January of 2012 took nearly two months, amid the controversy swirling from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“We’re going to be very deliberate again this time, but faster,” Joyner said.
Joyner will serve on a search committee to include men’s soccer coach Bob Warming and former Nittany Lion quarterback Wally Richardson, also president of Football Lettermen’s Club.
A new head coach must not necessarily have Penn State ties but he talked as if the replacement almost surely must have head coaching experience. He will be allowed to pick his own staff, though Joyner said he will maintain veto power and that the new coach will be encouraged to consider any assistants already in place.
“Our job is to select the next great head coach here at Penn State and to get the best coach available,” Joyner said.
When asked about prized quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Joyner praised the true freshman for his abilities on and off the field. But while he values the input of current player, a decision cannot be made to influence any one star.
“We want a coach that can embrace Christian as well as all the other student athletes that are here,” Joyner said.
Also, highly-regarded and longtime defensive line coach Larry Johnson was confirmed as interim head coach during the search. Several current players voiced their approval on Twitter for Johnson being named their permanent leader.
“If Coach Johnson wants to get into the mix, he will be very much welcomed and considered,” Joyner said.
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