By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press
Penn State needs a coach. Urban Meyer is available.
Let the speculation begin.
The last game Meyer coached for Florida, his Gators beat Joe Paterno and Penn State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.
Meyer, then 46, needed a break from coaching. Paterno, having just turned 84, was seemingly going strong.
"He will go down as the greatest football coach in the history of the game. Every young coach, in my opinion, can take a lesson from him," Meyer said after that game in Tampa, Fla.
"If I ever start a coaching school, I'm going to make everybody do a book report on Joe Paterno, and say that's the way you should act in coaching because that's college football. ... You just don't want to lose that man or lose what college football is. That was college football out there today."
Now it's possible Meyer could be the man to replace Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I history, whose 46-season run with the Nittany Lions ended because of a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach.
Paterno was ousted Wednesday night by the Penn State board of trustees, after earlier in the day he announced he would retire at the end of the season. The university president was also fired and the athletic director at Penn State has stepped aside, too, so no one even knows who will be hiring the next coach.
And Meyer's name certainly won't be the only one to surface as a possible candidate at Penn State.
This, however, is certain: Penn State is going to hire a football coach for the first time since 1966 and one of the most successful in the last decade is on the market.