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On Searches, Expectations, and "Insiders"

Are Penn State fans' expectations for their next head coach getting too high? When the search committee to find Penn State's next head coach was formed about three weeks ago, no one really expected the search to take this long, and most expected a safe hire, one that could restore the damaged image of the program in the wake of terrible scandal. Since that time, though, the list of candidates has exponentially grown in the minds of the interested public, and the commentary around the search has risen to a level such that only the ghost of Vince Lombardi himself could satisfy some fans.

Internet rumors and conjecture abound, including a favorite of many that says Penn State already has its head coach and is simply waiting, for one reason or another, to name this mystery man. Naturally, this leads to even greater speculation and intrigue. Everyone has their guesses, from established journalists to message board "insiders" to Joe Averagefan.

But what makes this search so unique is that no one, not even the beat writers who cover this team for a living, know anything.

The lack of information coming out of Happy Valley and those in charge of this search is both refreshing and frustrating. It's nice to see that Dave Joyner, Ira Lubert, and the rest of the committee can keep this high profile search under wraps. In a world where every news story gets leaked to some outlet by someone in the know, there has been no discernible piece of good information leaked on this search. We've seen some nuggets of info come out after the fact, including the interviews of Tom Clements, Tom Bradley, and some others.

Since there is no information, however, it is frustrating to those who are looking for any indication as to who the next Penn State football leader will be. The usual insiders on certain message boards, many of whom have had reliable information in the past, aren't saying much and it's leading to wild rumor mongering.

That Penn State might have already named a head coach, and further that that coach might be a "15 out of a scale of 10" or a "long homerun" has many fans scrambling to try and be the first to name our next head coach. In addition, new names have emerged on the information front, including one unidentified person who is taunting the world with some cryptic information.

In the beginning of the search, names like Dan Mullen, Tom Bradley, and Charlie Strong were discussed, men who were seen as relatively safe hires that would likely be interested in the job. Three weeks later and not a peep from those in the know, and the names we're now seeing include such outlandish guesses as Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Nick Saban, Les Miles, and others. This has lead to many fans getting their hopes so high, that when the next coach is named, likely sometime shortly after the bowl game on January 2nd, the announcement is sure to disappoint some.

"Anyone but Chris Petersen or Mark Richt will be a disappoint!" some fans may say. Those fans have a right to dream big for their program, for sure. But realistic expectations should be maintained. I would be the first to welcome the Stoops brothers to Happy Valley, but it's just not happening folks.

So all we can do is wait. We've waited over seven weeks since Joe Paterno was relieved of duties, nearly four weeks since the official committee was formed, and now there is just five more days until the bowl game, the day after which many believe is the target announcement date. Could it end up being someone like Richt, Petersen or Chip Kelly? Sure. Is it more likely to be someone like Tom Clements or Mike Munchak? Yes. But then again, that's just more speculation.