This is a fundamental question that we all have to look at very seriously. Paterno's time is nearly up.
First let me clarify me own position on Paterno staying as a coach. He is one of the greatest coaches in sports history, and it would be a shame to force him out like Bobby Bowden. I firmly believe he has earned the right to retire on his own terms. That could be this season, it could be next season, it could be after 2012. All I know is the time is near. Joe cannot outrun Father Time forever. This season he showed his age more than ever and it has been depressing. I am not "on the ledge" or calling for Joe's head like some others, but I simply know his final hour will be coming soon. Probably sooner than we think.
That being said, we go back to the question "Who will coach at Dear Old State?"
In my opinion, it would be best to go outside the program. We should get a coach with Big Ten roots, who understands the tradition of Penn State. This would also help because it would remove (help to remove rather) the pressure of walking in Paterno's shoes. I do not want a coach from the current staff a) because they are garbage and b) they would constantly be compared to JoePa and have a tough time building a program in their own image.
My 3 Top Candidates:
1) Pat Fitzgerald - He is one of the best college coaches in the county. He has built the jNW program to NW and now competes with everyone else in the Big Ten. He is young, fits the Big Ten profile and brings a ton of energy to the table. I sometimes wonder what he could do with the same talent as Penn State. The problem with Fitz is he is committed to building the NW program. He is also a NW alum and knows a thing or two about winning. He would be extremely tough to pull away from NW.
2) Al Golden - Fits the PSU profile perfectly. Young, energetic and has done a great job with Temple. He knows how to get his guys motivated. You saw how they played against the Nitty Kitties a few saturdays ago. Not to mention he played under Paterno. But he still has his own style and could build a great program. However, he is one of the hottest coaches on the market and will be gone somewhere else in few year.
3) Greg Schiano - Played at Bucknell and was a GA at PSU in the 90's. Knows about Northeastern football and the Big Ten. Brings a lot of energy to the table and has been very consistent over the past 4 or 5 seasons at Rutgers. He is a poor-mans version of the other two, but still a worthy candidate.
Those are my top 3. Any other thoughts?
And Definitely not JayPa, Galen Hall, TB