Saturday, December 20, 2014

First Meyer-to-Penn-State rumor won't be the last

Just as former Florida coach Urban Meyer arrives in Happy Valley for the telecast of Saturday's Penn State-Iowa game, a blog reports that university officials are interested in having Meyer become the head coach once Joe Paterno steps down.

First Meyer-to-Penn-State rumor won't be the last

Former Florida coach Urban Meyer is in Happy Valley to work on the ESPN/ABC telecast of Saturday's game between Penn State and Iowa.

So naturally, the time is right for a blog report linking Meyer to the possibility he will be head coach of the Nittany Lions once Joe Paterno retires.

Veteran Ohio State beat writer Jeff Rapp, writing on his blog "Sports RappUp," quoted a source close to Meyer as saying that Penn State officials contacted Meyer on Sept. 25 and “expressed major interest in pursuing him as head coach” should the 84-year-old Paterno call it quits the end of this season.

“Urban would love to have that job,” the source told Rapp. “Keep in mind, though, that he doesn’t want to be known as the guy who forced out Joe Paterno. It would have to be done in the right way. I think they could appeal to JoePa’s best interests and allow him to be the kingmaker.”

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In a response to an e-mail seeking comment, Penn State president Graham Spanier said, “The report is inaccurate.”

No other principal in the case -- Meyer, Paterno or athletic director Tim Curley -- was available for comment.

Rapp wrote that Spanier and Curley reportedly spoke with Meyer while he was on campus for a pre-season interview with linebacker Michael Mauti. The talks were “productive,” he said, and Meyer was contacted the following month.

Citing health reasons, the 46-year-old Meyer stepped down as Florida’s coach at the end of the 2011 season, which ended with the Gators’ 37-24 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

Since that time, a popular scenario is that Meyer would sit out a year, enjoy the less stressful world of broadcasting, and then accept the Penn State job if Paterno retired at the end of this season, marking the end of Paterno’s latest contract.

The scenario will last throughout this season and beyond. If Penn State qualifies for a bowl, Paterno will be coaching at the age of 85 (his birthday is Dec. 20). And all indications are that he will not want to leave.

The Rapp report quoted the source as saying Meyer “almost certainly” would return to coaching if the job opened up at Penn State, Ohio State or Texas.

An Ohio native, Meyer may wait for the job with the Buckeyes being that the NCAA is expected to levy penalties against the football program for a scandal where players exchanged memorabilia for tattoos. News of the practice forced the resignation of head coach Jim Tressel.

--Joe Juliano

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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