As Penn State seeks a new football coach, can any names be safely ruled out?
We think so.
Here are five coaches who we believe won't make the cut.
Dan Mullen: Despite Mullen's popular status as the front runner in the Penn State head coach race, there are a few reasons why he probably won't be getting the job.
- Scandal: While Mullen was technically on the "right" side of the Cam Newton saga, his involvement in the entire episode brings to light the perception, and often reality, of SEC recruiting. With Penn State climbing out of its own personal hole, any sort of baggage is unwanted.
- Jobs and Money: Since 1994, Mullen has held eight different coaching jobs. Penn State is looking for a candidate who has shown not only an ability to coach, but also an ability to build and maintain excellence over several years, as well. His current one year extension has a $1.4 million dollar buyout and comes in the wake of breaking ground on a Mullen proposed $25 million football facility. Bulldog administrators aren't going to let that just walk out the door.
- Personality: Over the course of Mullen's entire career, he has not been one to back down from a fight and is often quick with words and fiery toward opponents. Beat writers for MSU have said he can be arrogant and cocky. Something Penn State doesn't need heading out of this scandal. On the recruiting trail, some analysts have said Mullen can have difficulty connecting with athletes. This has resulted in Mississippi State recruiting classes' coming in ranked 38th in 2010 and 44th in 2011 and unranked in 2012.
Blue White Illustrated is reporting that Mullen will be interviewed Monday as part of the Penn State search. Since that report surfaced, Mulled has strongly denied the report and issued a statement:
"Neither I, my agent nor the administration at Mississippi State University have been contacted by anybody at Penn State University. I’m very happy with the the direction the Mississippi State program is headed right now. I will not comment further in regards to any speculation about job openings."
Al Golden: A year ago, this would have seemed like the most natural hire Penn State could make. Golden, who played for Penn State from 1989 to 1991, was head coach of the Temple Owls from 2006 until 2010, when he took over at the University of Miami. A young rising coach and Penn State alum seemed a natural to take over for Joe Paterno. Some fans even speculated that Golden took the Miami job as a quasi-interview for the Penn State job.
Since the start of the Penn State scandal, it has become increasingly unlikely that any Penn State alum will be hired to replace Tom Bradley. Between lingering questions surrounding the athletics program, Penn State has probably decided that is better to remove any room for doubt with its hire. On Nov. 25, Golden agreed to a contact extension at Miami through 2019. While in theory it is possible that Penn State could buy out Golden's contract, it is much more likely that Golden either knew or inquired about Penn State's plans and found out he was not involved.
Greg Schiano: A former Penn State assistant coach, Schiano was a popular choice to replace Paterno in the mid- to late-2000s. Schiano has been the head coach at Rutgers since 2001 and saw his stock rise dramatically in 2006, when he led Rutgers to a 11-2 record and finished the season ranked 12th in the nation. Schiano received Big East and national coach-of-the-year awards that season.
Since then, Schiano has struggled. Rutgers has put up no season better than 9-4 since 2006 and has seen Schiano's record slip to 67-67.
Pat Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald has been a popular name for Penn State fans to toss around. His youth, ability and energy have helped elevate the quality of play at Northwestern. Fitzgerald's commitment to academics and on-field success has made him an attractive candidate for many Penn Staters.
The catch is that Fitzgerald is a Wildcat to the bone. Having played at Northwestern and now having coached there, he seems unlikely to make a move across the conference. Penn State may attempt to contact Fitzgerald, but it seems as though he is a Wildcat for life.
Chris Petersen: One of the hottest coaches in America, Petersen has helped Boise State to a 71-6 record during his stay. While one would assume that Petersen would be interested in taking his talents to a large, more impressive conference, indications are that he isn't going anywhere.
Earlier Friday, ESPN reported that Petersen would not be a candidate for the UCLA job. Reportedly, Boise State is doing everything it can to keep its coach in house. UCLA was reportedly ready to offer Petersen $3 million a year. A number Penn State may not have matched.
On top of Boise State's desire to keep Petersen around, he is still in Boise to stay close to doctors who can treat his son's cancer. Having been open about not wanting to uproot his family, he seems unlikely to take a trip across the country.