Ohio State will introduce Urban Meyer as their new head football coach Monday afternoon, becoming the first Big Ten program to name a new football coach in this year’s edition of the coaching carousel. Meyer was a name many Penn State fans had hoped would be on the short list in State College, so the question now becomes where exactly will the program turn as they look to fill their own head coaching vacancy?
The name that has been mentioned the most recently is Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, a former assistant of Meyer’s. It makes sense too.
Mullen, a Pennsylvania native, played his college football in Pennsylvania, at Ursinus, and he has been working his way up the coaching ranks over the years. Mullen was an assistant for Meyer back at Bowling Green and Utah, where he helped develop Alex Smith and recruited Brian Johnson at quarterback, who led the Utes to an undefeated record in 2009. He has also worked with quarterbacks like Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. There is no question that his college pedigree is well-established and for a program that has struggled to develop quarterbacks like Penn State, perhaps Mullen would be just the spark needed to get players like Rob Bolden, Matt McGloin and Paul Jones to take the next step in their development, assuming they stick around instead of transferring to another program.
Mullen is a solid recruiter, and Penn State will certainly need one with Meyer taking over at Ohio State. All Meyer may have to do in recruiting battles with Penn State and Michigan is show kids his two national championship rings. Of course, Mullen has those two rings too, and Mullen can also say that when he left Florida to take over Mississippi State that Meyer’s offense dropped off immediately (43.5 points per game in Mullen’s final season at Florida down to 35.9 ppg in 2009 and 29.8 ppg in Meyer’s final season at Florida).
Mullen would seem to be a sensible hire if he is indeed interested in the job, although there may be better options out there.
If Georgia’s Mark Richt ends up being released by Georgia he may be the best available candidate for the job. This particular writer has been high on Richt for a while as a potential Paterno-replacement, but his hot seat in Athens has cooled over the last few weeks with the Bulldogs finishing strong and playing in to the SEC Championship game this coming weekend. While Richt now appears to be going nowhere, and it remains highly unlikely he would leave Georgia for Penn State, the usual list of candidates looks to be shortening.
Al Golden agreed to an extension at Miami. James Franklin has an extension at Vanderbilt. Chris Petersen does not appear to be leaving Boise State any time soon. Gary Patterson is about to lead TCU in to the Big 12.
What about Greg Schiano? While Schiano has previously rejected an opportunity to leave for Miami, the speculation that he may be a candidate for Penn State was silenced a bit when he said he had no intentions of leaving Rutgers.
Maybe Mullen is the top candidate for the job after all.
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