We've all heard a lot of names connected to Penn State football's coaching search after Joe Paterno was fired in 2011. Big names like Urban Meyer and Mark Richt were apparently thrown around as possible replacements for the legendary football coach.
However, according to the, uh, "fine folks" at ProFootballTalk, Penn State apparently reached out to one of the few coaches who is arguably on a similar level to Paterno in regards to legendary status: Bill Parcells. Based on a passage from The Big Tuna's book, Parcells was apparently asked if he was interested in being the guy who replaced Joe Pa.
Nugget of the day from Bill Parcells' book: After firing Joe Paterno, Penn State contacted Parcells to see if he'd be interested in the job.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 17, 2015
So, a few things here. One is that Penn State probably dodged a huge bullet with Parcells not taking the job. Yes, Parcells is one of the best coaches in football history. However, he hasn't been a coach since he retired -- for the third time -- in 2006. Even then, people were wondering if Parcells had lost his touch as a head coach (although in his defense, he was coaching the Cowboys, and this happened in his last game).
Along those lines, it had been a looooooooooooong time since Parcells coached in college. He was a position coach from 1964-1977, coached at Air Force for one year in 1978, led the Falcons to a 3-8 record, bolted to the NFL after a year and never looked back. Not only has the college game changed a ton in that time in regards to on-the-field action, but my goodness, could you imagine a 70-year-old Bill Parcells recruiting for the first time in more than 30 years? Sure, he could play the "I'm Bill Parcells" card, but connecting to teenagers and their families would likely have been really, really difficult.
The decision to target Parcells wasn't all negative, though. If Penn State wanted a big name to show that: A) The scandal wasn't going to kill the football program, B) It was still one of the marquee schools in college football and C) It was possible to attract someone as big as Joe Pa to Happy Valley, it would have done exactly that by reeling in Parcells. Plus, let's face it, if there's one guy who would be able to put an excellent staff around him to compensate for whatever issues he would have from being so far gone from the game, it would be Bill Parcells.
Honestly, the athletic department deserves some credit for reaching out and shooting for the moon with this hiring process -- and for all of the criticism the athletic department got during this period of time, they absolutely deserve credit for this. However, this feels like a move that only would have led to Parcells being on the sidelines for two or three years as a temporary hire before a James Franklin-type took over with a long-term goal in Happy Valley.
Of course, none of this matters because Penn State ended up hiring the perfect person for the job at the time, but still, this is a fun "what if?" scenario.