As the seconds tick by, everyone is holding their breath in the wake of the imminent Joe Paterno firing/retiring. As many questions continue to circulate as to how much information JoePa held from the University and the authorities, one-question remains pressing: Who will take the reigns from arguably the most prolific coach in NCAA football history? Listed below are 10 likely candidates to take over for JoePa.
Greg Schiano - The current Rutgers coach has been linked to the Penn State job by a variety of sources. At Rutgers, Schiano has a decent 65-66 record as head coach, but his history with the Penn State program may be a big asset in his pursuit of the job. Look for Schiano to be one of the leading candidates in the coaching hunt.
Al Golden - Considering the mess he inherited at Miami, a quick coaching change might be quite appealing to Golden. Golden has ties to the Penn State program, he was a LB coach back in 2000, and might jump on the opportunity to leave the ACC to play with the big boys. Consider Golden a serious contendor to take over for JoePa.
Urban Meyer - Urban has also been linked the Penn State job by a variety of sources. As a two-time champion with the Gators, taking over after a football icon and a good 7-1 team will seem like a very appealing opportunity for Urban Meyer. Meyer does not have any particular ties to the Penn State program (he has been speculated to be the next coach at Ohio State for sometime), but the Nittany Lion alumni may put on a full court press to bring the two-time national champion to University Park.
Rich Rodriguez - This one may be a stretch, but the opportunity to beat the team in Ann Arbor that put a solid black eye on his career may be an appealing job to Rich Rod. This pick is unlikely, but hey work is work.
Jim Tressell - Another long shot, but if given the opportunity, Tressell would like to continue his career in college football. Although the backlash from the Buckeye might just be enough to keep Tressell from jumping at this coaching job.
Mike Leach - Leach is one of many very qualified coaches out there who are currently out of work. He did a fantastic job leading the Texas Tech program, but was fired in 2009 for his mistreatment of one of his players. Leach would be a great coach, but Penn State will most likely deter themselves from a controversial replacement to JoePa.
Butch Davis - Davis did a fantastic job in Chapel Hill, turing around a historically mediocre football program into one that has boasted an extremely stout defense over the last 5 seasons. Although he was fired for off the field issues, the pale in comparison to what Paterno is alleged to have overlooked.
Mike Stoops - Mike Stoops is also another qualified coach who is currently out of work. At Arizona Stoops was 41-50, and was 1-2 in bowl games. Stoops will definitely be a low priority on this list, but if options get thin for the Nittany Lions, they will certainly give Stoops a second look over.
Kirk Ferentz - Ferentz currently is an ideal situation, he is 95-63 over the last decade at Iowa with 6 bowl wins. So why would Ferentz want to jump ship for Penn State? Because Penn State has a larger Alumni base, can offer him more money, and has the opportunity to take over after a legend... Sounds pretty good to me. I would not be surprised if Penn State plays the smell test with Ferentz to see if he is at all interested in the job.
Pat Fitzgerald - What is not to like about Fitzgerald? He is young, enthusiastic, and most importantly he wins. Fitzgerald has taken a historically weak Northwestern team and has made them competitive in his 6 seasons as head coach. If Penn State is looking for a young coach with a bright future, Fitzgerald will be a serious contender for the coaching job.
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