As a Penn State fan, I may burst into flames if I ever muttered the words "Joe must go." This is not a Joe Paterno needs to retire post, and in no way am I saying Joe must retire. However, no one lives forever. Something we all have to come to terms with is that Joe will not be the head coach of Penn State for much longer and preparation must be made. The biggest question to ask is: Is Penn State a coveted coaching position? The quick answer is yes; but the answer is complicated in so many ways. Does Penn State already have a coach in waiting? Tom Bradley turned down several head coaching positions to remain with Penn State as the defensive coordinator. Larry Johnson Sr. has turned down several jobs to become a coordinator at big schools and head coaching positions at smaller ones. Not to mention former Florida head coach and current offensive coordinator Galen Hall. Then there is always that fairly remote possibility that Jay Paterno inherits the job from his dad.
What if there isn't a deal in place for the next coach at Penn State? What if Graham Spanier posts the position on Monster.com? What caliber of coach can Penn State expect interest from? Truth is, the university has a lot going for it in that favor, and recent struggles seem to overshadow the true glory that is Penn State. It is a perennial top 25 team. It has some of the most storied tradition in all of college football. The facilities are next to none. Not to mention you would be sitting in the same office of a legendary coach battling for a Big Ten Championship Trophy in his very name. Sounds great right? Well, not so fast. Penn State also comes with extremely high expectations off the field. They play in the Big 10 conference that hasn't exactly been the star it once was. And to top it all off, you are being asked to fill the shoes of a legend.
This whole question came to me while reading an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by ESPN 950 The Fanatic afternoon talk guy Mike Missanelli. Missanelli, a former Penn Stater himself wrote an article on why Joe Paterno should make this season his last at the helm of the Nittany Lions. Why? Well because Urban Meyer is job hunting. Joe Paterno rarely gets into the discussions about other coaches and other teams, but when it comes to Urban Meyer...JoePa has a soft spot. Perhaps because they are very similar. Their values are very similar and Joe Paterno would respect that he could leave this program in able hands. Truth is, there is no one better for the job. There have been many a name thrown out from Bill Cowher to Greg Schiano but Urban Myer fits so well you could almost see it happen. Now, I am speaking as a fan when I say all of this. I admire what Meyer has done with Florida. I admire his fire, and his passion for the game. I admire he is willing to do the right thing for himself and his family; even if that means stepping down. The big question? Would he accept? I want to believe so. He would be tremendous for recruiting because he is a household name, and has ties to the talent rich south. The Big Ten will continue to flounder until either the northern kids can catch up, or we start luring them out of the south for a little yankee football action. Urban Meyer is the talent that could do it. Not to mention the fact that he grew up in the Ohio Valley and could relate to the current recruiting base.
So, if Urban is ever up late at night and decides to google his name, I hope that he stumbles upon my lowly blog post as insignificant as it seems and sees how much sense it makes for him to be the next coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. I believe he can bring the National Championship back to Happy Valley and put Penn State back on top...making himself a legend in his own rite.
So, what if it did happen? Would Urban bring in a whole new coaching staff? No doubt. Galen Hall will most likely retire. Jay Paterno would take an office job at the university. Tom Bradley will take a head coaching position and Larry Johnson will most likely follow him as a defensive coordinator. Meyer will not doubt lean on his past staff and hopefully bring some in to run the offense and defense for his team. However, he would be wise to look into the rich talent base of former Nittany Lions to become assistants at Penn State. I have no idea if any of them would be interested, nor do I know if any of them can coach...but it would be nice to see an actual quartberback coaching the quarterbacks...right? Paging Kerry Collins. Collins brings NFL experience to the table and would be an excellent presence in the recruiting game. LaVar...you busy? Arrington is another imposing presence that has long mentored players including the late Sean Taylor.