Next man up

I’m focusing on the future of Penn State.

Dwelling on the past, which includes Bill O’Brien bolting in the dead of night on New Year’s Eve for the Houston Texans despite telling recruits that reports of him leaving Penn State “were not true” and that he’d be at Penn State “when they got there,” is pointless and unproductive.

If there is one lesson those in charge of finding Penn State’s next coach it’s that they better find someone who will stay loyal, committed and genuine. There is no room for annual flirtation with other jobs and no place for the outgoing coach to rip those who had become used the previous coach practicing those same three words (loyal, committed and genuine) over and over and over again for 46 years.

Penn State got the first part of the post-O’Brien era (can we call two years an era?) right when it made defensive line coach Larry Johnson the Nittany Lions interim coach. Johnson, who coached under Joe Paterno starting in 1996, is Penn State’s best recruiter and can provide a calming voice to both the current players and recruits verbally committed for the class of 2014. There will be a push for Penn State to make Johnson the coach for good, but he has never even been a coordinator at the college level. I don’t think the sell would be tough, but Penn State fans who see past the shiny vernier would understand there are better men with head coaching experience out there. But make no mistake, Johnson must be kept on staff. That is not a question at all.

Whether it’s former East Stroudsburg University quarterback James Franklin, former Penn State player and assistant coach Al Golden or ex-PSU assistant coach Greg Schiano, Penn State must find a new coach who will commit to the task at hand, be loyal to his players, the community and the school and genuine with his actions and words. Without ALL of those, Penn State risks going through this situation again and again.

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