The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 8, 2014

Internet’s atwitter with clues to next Penn State coach

By William Bowman
The Daily Item

STATE COLLEGE — STATE COLLEGE — Social media is either the worst or best way to find out who the next Penn State football coach might be.

Twitter nearly melted last week when the hiring of former Penn State captain and current Miami (Fla.) head coach Al Golden seemed imminent.

  That rumor died quickly, and Golden announced Monday he was staying in south Florida.

On Tuesday, social media trended toward Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, perhaps the hottest commodity in football. Franklin, who has turned the perennial SEC bottom-feeder into a contender — leading Vandy to its first nine-win season in nearly a century — is also a candidate for several NFL jobs.

Franklin is a Pennsylvania native and was a quarterback at East Stroudsburg University. He reportedly interviewed for the Penn State job Sunday.

What led to the Franklin push Tuesday was Internet digging that turned up some interesting tidbits, namely that two Vanderbilt assistant coaches — John Donovan and Bob Shoop — were now following a handful of Penn State recruits and verbal commitments on Twitter, something they were not doing just days before.

In addition, the job posting for “head football coach” on Penn State’s website was removed either Monday evening or early Tuesday, prompting some to think an announcement was due soon as well.

PSU athletic director Dave Joyner released a statement Tuesday saying the hiring process was on schedule, but not a done deal.

“The search for the new leader of the Penn State football program is progressing very well,” Joyner said. “We are on schedule and I anticipate having the new head coach in place in a matter of days. The search is robust, as we anticipated it would be, and we have an excellent pool of candidates. I have heard from many coaches, or their representatives, who have expressed their interest in the position.”

Nearly 750 readers took part in a poll asking who they wanted to be the next PSU coach and none of the favorites was the top vote-getter.

Former Penn State assistant Jay Paterno, the son of Joe Paterno, received nearly a quarter of the votes, easily outpacing Mike Munchak, the former PSU All-American and Titans head coach, Penn State assistant Larry Johnson, Franklin and Golden.

Jay Paterno received 195 votes from readers, followed by 110 for Munchak and 107 for Johnson. Franklin picked up 92 votes with 73 for Golden.