UNIVERSITY PARK - Nobody could blame interim coach Tom Bradley for the Nittany Lions' 17-14 loss to Nebraska in the first game of the post-Paterno Era Saturday.
In fact, Bradley could go winless for the remainder of the season, and no one could blame him.
Under these conditions, Bradley is simply being asked to mind the store, inspire competitiveness and keep what's left of the roof on the building.
He did that Saturday as the Lions overcame a 17-0 deficit, staged a rally and came within a first down of having a chance to tie the game in the last minute.
Bradley was asked about whether he'll be a candidate to succeed Joe Paterno, but he has more than enough on his plate to think beyond today.
"I haven't thought about it," he said. "All I've thought about is doing the best job I can for these student-athletes."
Bradley received an endorsement from offensive coordinator Galen Hall "hopefully it works out where Tom gets it" but the reality is the next head coach will be from outside the staff.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson said, "there is no timetable established" for the search, but from what we've seen of the Board of Trustees, which fired Paterno and school president Graham Spanier both Wednesday, this is not exactly a group that takes its time.
The Washington Post reported Friday that board representative Steve Garban contacted Virginia coach Mike London even before informing Paterno he was finished.
Erickson disputed that, saying, "we've not reached out to any candidate."
While it's important to hurry but not rush, hiring the second-year coach from Virginia would not exactly sell out the STEP program. Previously the head coach at Richmond, London is 11-11 in two seasons with Virginia, including 7-3 this year.
And, get this, according to the report, he declined interest in PSU.
But let's take Erickson at his word and, given the events of the last week, it's a pretty good idea not to lie.
The question, though, is with Spanier, whose firing was a virtual footnote to Paterno's dismissal, and Tim Curley out, who will lead the most important sports decision in school history?
Given the traumatic state of the order, this really needs to be thought out thoroughly and by the best possible football minds Penn State can muster.
Nothing against Garban, but can he really be the front man?
My suggestion would be to quickly assemble a high-powered search committee that could lead and perhaps sell the best candidate available.
Matt Millen and Todd Blackledge, two of the most decorated PSU football alumni, would be ideal co-chairmen.
They are charismatic, involved with the game through broadcasting, have connections at the collegiate and NFL levels and, judging from their interviews, still have a love for Penn State.
Urban Meyer has been the name most have talked about. He was scheduled to broadcast Saturday's game, but that changed with the death of his father.
He would be the one guy worth rushing toward. He would be able to stabilize recruiting the Lions have already lost one commitment while attracting five-star recruits.
But who knows how much the Jerry Sandusky allegations and all the shrapnel that followed will scare off a marquee candidate like Meyer?
If Penn State has its eye on London, maybe Meyer has already said no. If so, you'd think a tag team of Millen and Blackledge would have a better chance to lure a Tony Dungy than would Steve Garban.
Hall, who succeeded Charley Pell during the middle of the 1984 season at Florida and then was fired himself at midseason five years later, believes Penn State will survive this turbulent time.
"Whoever gets this job will be very successful," Hall, who remained open to staying on as an assistant, said. "This is a great university, a great academic university, a great football program. It's going to be a very, very good job for someone."
And it may take more than the current board to land that special someone.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.