Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner says he doesn’t want the search for a new head football coach to take attention away from this year’s team and what it has achieved.
But he added, in an interview before Saturday’s game against Ohio State, that the time will soon come to address what needs to be done for next season.
“We’re aware of when the right time is when we get things settled,” Joyner said, “and we get things going in the right direction, which they are, that we’re going to begin thinking about it. … You’ve got to balance between creating a big distraction but, with the season almost over, we've got to start building for next season.”
Joyner said he expects to decide on a structure of a search committee “very soon.” He also said the decision on the hiring of the new coach will not come from the university’s Board of Trustees but from him and university president Rodney Erickson.
Joyner admitted that “we’ve been in a whirlwind, everything happening at once” since the indictment two weeks ago of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on charges related to allegations of sexually abusing children. The case also involved perjury indictments against athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz.
Shortly after the indictments were issued, Joe Paterno was fired in his 46th season as head football coach. A grand jury said Paterno was informed of an alleged sexual assault in 2002 by a graduate assistant, later identified as current assistant coach Mike McQueary, but went to Curley with the charge and not police.
Suggestions have been made in some circles that Penn State should go outside the university for a new football coach. But Joyner said he would have “no problem” picking a Penn Stater.
“It won’t be my decision alone,” he said. “There will be a lot of counsel in it obviously. But I have no objection to a Penn State type person. On the other hand, whoever’s the best person is going to get the job.
“I said at my press conference that I’ve got conflict of interest because I’m a Penn Stater. But people that know me know I’m going to do the right thing no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if I’m a Penn Stater or from Ohio State or whatever. So it’s more about what’s inside the person than it is what’s outside.”
Joyner indicated during his Friday press conference that current interim head coach Tom Bradley would be welcomed to apply for the job. He said Saturday that Bradley “has done a very fine job."
As for his job, Joyner said he will help the university “for as long as they want me to help them … if it’s five months, if it’s five years, whatever I’m called on to do. I’m prepared and I’ve made the commitment to help.”
Joyner also said he feels the entire campus has been in a period of mourning for the victims of the alleged attacks, but that the university must get back to business.
“We’ve got to get about our business and you have to get up and you have to go to work and do things,” he said. “We’re beginning to do that and we will do that. We’re going to keep walking the straight path and we’ll be respectful and remember and never forget. But we’re getting back to business.”