Penn State Lowers Sights in Search for Coach

Penn State Lowers Sights in Search for Coach

When judging the quality of a coaching search, it is important to remember that it is the result of the search, and not the search itself, that matters. Two years from now, we will be in a much better position to evaluate whether Penn State’s search for Joe Paterno’s replacement, now at eight weeks, was a cunning work of genius or an abject failure.

After all, it took Alabama 38 days to replace Mike Shula back in 2006, providing countless hours of fodder for sports talk shows and plenty of opportunities for second-guessing. Yet there were not too many complaints about that protracted process after Alabama landed Nick Saban. In coaching searches, the sausage is much more important than the way in which it was made.

Who will the next coach of the Nittany Lions be? No one is sure. Maybe not even Penn State. It is unlikely that Mike Munchak, considered the top choice among former players, will reverse course after his declarations last week that he was staying with the Tennessee Titans. It is possible that New England’s offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, could have a change of heart and not pursue N.F.L. openings. But has Penn State really fallen so far that it is now a nice backup plan?

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