Penn State athletic director Tim Curley gave the spotlight to the departing Ed DeChellis for the first couple of days after news of the coach's move to Navy came to light. With DeChellis in the rear view mirror now, however, Curley is opening up a little and talking about the search. In a report last evening, the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) grabbed this from him.
"Our program is built on certain values and tradition, a certain way of operating," he said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon with The Associated Press. "Ultimately, it's my responsibility to make sure we identify a coach who identifies with our system and the Penn State way."
Though not necessarily someone with Penn State ties, like DeChellis.
"We're conducting a national search, so we're open to the best candidate that we can find," Curley said. He said there was no timeline, though he hoped to move quickly to find a replacement.
At first glance, most probably wouldn't think much of those last two paragraphs. In this era of massive staff turnover in college basketball and football, most fans are used to hearing of national searches take place at other schools almost constantly. Consider this, though.
The Nittany Lions have not hired a head coach in football or men's basketball without Penn State ties since Bruce Parkhill in 1983. Both former basketball coach Jerry Dunn and DeChellis were assistants under Parkhill and, well, Joe Paterno is Joe Paterno.
Make of it what you will, but Penn State is sailing into uncharted waters here. Sure, Curley and Co. have hit home runs in non-revenue sports with hires like Coquese Washington for the women's basketball team, Bob Warming for the men's soccer team, Cael Sanderson for the wrestling team and Guy Gadowsky for the men's ice hockey team, but Penn State hasn't tried to compete for or attract an outsider coach in a hyper-competitive environment like men's college basketball for a long, long time.
The recognition that the hire might come from outside the program or University is rather revolutionary considering the way Penn State has operated for the better part of the last 30 years.
O, I left one thing out, too.
Curley said Penn State would pay a "competitive salary" to ensure the school attracts the right candidate.
Needless to say, what Curley considers "competitive" is key. As Andy Katz of ESPN.com notes, it's going to be tough to attract anything even approaching a big name without some cash.
At Penn State, the salary structure would have to change to attract a big-name coach. Paying shy of $1 million will limit the pool and not only price out power-six coaches, but also plenty of other coaches at the top of leagues like the Colonial (someone like Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor) and Missouri Valley (can't touch Wichita State's Gregg Marshall).
Penn State paid Ed DeChellis just over $700,000, among the lowest figures in the Big Ten. It might have been competitive number for him, an alumnus who (at one point at least) considered Penn State his destination job. However, given not only the fact that most BCS conference level coaches usually command much more salary, but the speculation by many that DeChellis left for Navy because of a lack of commitment to the basketball program from administration, it's going to be very difficult to attract an established coach with that kind of money.
With football ticket prices set to spike dramatically this fall with the implementation of the STEP program, designed to funnel cash into the athletic department, and the massive television deals the Big Ten, and by extension Penn State, have put in place since the last basketball hire, the pressure will likely be on Curley from a number of sources both internally (donors, alumni, fans) and externally (conference officials invested in offering good basketball content on the Big Ten Network) to make sure he doesn't go with another cheap option like DeChellis. Whether he'll yield to it or not remains to be seen, but if his early statements are any indication, there's a chance he will.