AD: Penn State Committed to Winning

As the search for a new had coach continues, Dave Joyner insists football will not be de-emphasized at the university.

DALLAS -- At a Penn State bowl function here Thursday, acting athletic director Dave Joyner attempted to clear up comments by the university president that indicated the school might de-emphasize its gridiron program.

“We're committed to having the highest quality program both on and off the field,” Joyner said at a team party at legendary Western dance hall Gilley's. “We're committed to emphasizing the things we've emphasized for the last 50 years. We're committed to having the highest academics, the highest ethics and winning national championships, all in the same bucket.”

Penn State fired longtime coach Joe Paterno Nov. 9 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The university appointed a selection committee for a new coach in late November but has yet to tab a replacement for Paterno. PSU faces Houston in the TicketCity Bowl here Jan. 2.

Adding confusion to the process were comments made by school president Rodney Erickson in a Dec. 12 story by USA Today. In it, he said he wanted Penn State to be known more for its academics than its football program.

“I've talked to him,” Joyner said. “I think that he was trying to (say) not that we wanted to de-emphasize football or athletics. We just want to re-emphasize the things that we've traditionally done. We want to continue to keep our eye on that and continue to push to have the finest student/athletes we can have.”

Other than interim head coach Tom Bradley, Joyner refused to name any candidates who have interviewed for the full-time position. He insisted no decision has been made, though he allowed that the field has been narrowed to a “handful of people” and that PSU has talked to “some very high-quality people, both on and off the football field.”

He also admitted that he has been well aware of the various reports of different men who have allegedly agreed to be the coach. Asked about his favorite rumor, he paused and said, “I think somebody wrote that Knute Rockne is coming back,” before winking at the reporter.

That said, he added that it is important to get the process wrapped up in the next week or so.

“I'd like to get this finished up so that whoever the head coach is -- whether it be Coach Bradley or someone else -- he has enough time to really interact with recruits.”

Signing day for major college football prospects is Feb. 1. Joyner wants the new coach to have three weeks leading up to that to take care of things on the recruiting front.

Joyner said he can sympathize with fans who are anxious for the process to run its course -- “If I was a fan I'd be doing the same thing” -- but countered that there is too much at stake to make a hasty decision.

“We're looking for people in a systematic way,” he said. “We're looking for important qualities that this program has been known for for many years. We have a very special place, and it has been for a long time. We want this to continue to be a special place. My feeling is rather than speed, accuracy is more important.”


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