PSU search murky

Coaching searches require patience from fans, who have to sift through rumors that may or may not be true, fact versus fiction, anonymous reports, gamesmanship and, not to be overlooked, hidden agendas.

The Penn State coaching search has only been going on for one day, yet already all of the above elements seem to have come into play.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Friday, a report from a website that covers the Miami (Fla.) program stated that Hurricanes coach and PSU alum Al Golden had been offered the job by Penn State.

That set off a fan frenzy in the Nittany Nation, albeit one that lasted only briefly as PSU reporter David Jones from tweeted shortly thereafter, “NO ONE has been offered job. Report was wrong.”

Another website that covers Miami quickly followed with a story that quoted Golden saying, “I’m not leaving.”

ESPN reported that Golden is a leading candidate to replace Bill O’Brien at Penn State, along with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and embattled Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak. There are some issues with two of those names, however.

Munchak, a PSU alum, is still the Titans’ head coach, and various media reports Friday evening indicated that he will remain so after team officials completed an evaluation of his performance.

The website reported Franklin, seemingly a strong candidate in every way and a fan favorite for the job, will be interviewed by Penn State on Sunday.

However, Franklin also is in the running for the opening at Texas, according to veteran Longhorns reporter Chip Brown of

The Texas job is the most coveted in college football right now, so if Franklin gets an offer, he presumably would take that over Penn State.

So of the supposed three leading candidates, only Golden might actually be available to the Nittany Lions. If school officials peg him as their top guy, the ball will be in his court to determine if he wants to remain at Miami or coach his alma mater.

This is where the gamesmanship and possible agendas come into play.

Whoever is leaking information about Golden to the media could be doing so to give the coach more leverage in his current job at Miami. If there’s a real threat he could leave the Hurricanes, Golden would be in a position of strength to seek more money or other benefits from Miami in order to stay there.

Brett McMurphy of reported Penn State officials plan to meet with Golden, so there appears to be a good chance he could be the Nittany Lions’ next coach. That’s if he wants the job.

Golden has the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation coming in at Miami, which went 9-4 this season and was ranked in the top 10 at one point. If he feels he’s got a better situation with the Hurricanes than Penn State can provide, he could decide to stay put.

If that happens, and Franklin and Munchak also are unavailable, then Penn State’s search committee would have to cross off its top candidates and go to plan B.

The only rock-solid information to emerge Friday was that Larry Johnson, PSU’s interim head coach, does plan to throw his name into the hat.

“I am going to apply for the job here at Penn State University, I can tell you that,” Johnson said on a conference call.

Beyond that revelation, everything else about the coaching search at this point remains speculative and unverified.