Penn State search panel's makeup decried

Ex-players: It lacks 'football minds'


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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Two former Penn State All-American tailbacks said Tuesday they are not happy with the makeup of the search committee chosen to help select a new football coach.

"This is a historic decision and we should have football minds and better racial diversity helping to make this decision," Charlie Pittman said.

"When you're looking for a coach, you need people who understand football," Lydell Mitchell said.

Pittman and Mitchell are African-American. The six-person search committee, announced Monday night by acting athletic director Dave Joyner, has only one African-American -- Charmelle Green, an associate athletic director and senior woman administrator.

In addition to Green and Joyner, other members of the search committee are Linda Caldwell, faculty athletics representative; Ira Lubert, chairman and co-founder of Independence Capital Partners and Lubert Adler Partners and a member of the Board of Trustees; John Nichols, Emeritus Professor, College of Communications, and Chair, Coalition of Intercollegiate Athletics; and Russ Rose, women's volleyball coach.

"The mix of search committee members is intentional," Joyner said Monday night in a statement. "We're looking for a broad perspective and representation of the entire university."

Joyner, an All-American offensive tackle who played with Pittman and Mitchell, has said he and university president Rodney Erickson will make the final call on the new coach.

Interim coach Tom Bradley has compiled a 1-2 record since replacing Joe Paterno, who was fired Nov. 9 because of a child sexual abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

"This is a big decision and Dave Joyner is the only one who knows football," said Pittman, a former NFL player who is senior vice president of publishing for Schurz Communications Inc. in South Bend, Ind. "This hire is more important than who is going to be the president of the university."

Mitchell, also a former NFL player, is disappointed he was not asked to be part of the search committee. He and former Penn State teammate Franco Harris have been business partners for more than 20 years.

"I think I'm very knowledgeable and would have liked to have had the opportunity to help pick the new coach," said Mitchell, who lives in Baltimore. "It's like they're turning their backs on former players. I think they're trying to just keep us at arm's length and keep us away from the program.

"It's hard to distance yourself from the Paterno regime. Obviously, Dave has ties to it. ... You can't run away from it."

In the first game of the post-Paterno era Nov. 12 against Nebraska, 317 former players showed up in support of Paterno and Bradley.

Bradley, a former Penn State player, wants to be hired as the permanent replacement, but is regarded as a long shot candidate because of his ties to Paterno and Sandusky.

Some of the early names to surface as possible replacements without Penn State ties include Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, Boise State's Chris Petersen and TCU's Gary Patterson.

"Great. I'm sure I'm on everybody's [list]," Mullen said Tuesday, when asked about the Penn State coaching vacancy during a session with reporters. "Am I right? Every time a job comes open, doesn't my name come up? So, you know our policy. We talk Mississippi State football. That's all we ever talk about."

Matt Millen, a former Penn State All-American defensive tackle and ESPN analyst, said Tuesday on television that Mullen would be a good fit "from a football standpoint."

"He's a good offensive mind," Millen said. "He was down with Urban Meyer, down in Florida [as Meyer's offensive coordinator]. It would fit the kind of style and the kind of offense that Penn State has."

Mullen, 20-17 in three years at Mississippi State, was born in Drexel Hill, played tight end at Ursinus College and his father is a Penn State graduate.

Millen said Penn State is one of the top 12 coaching jobs in the country, citing revenue, tradition and facilities as reasons.

Mitchell is in favor of hiring someone without Penn State ties.

"If you want my honest opinion, and this is not to diss anyone that's there now, I think we need to look outside the program," he said. "I think when you're around a program for so long, sooner or later what you have to do is change the culture. Penn State needs to change the culture."

Pittman teamed up with his son, Tony, also a former Penn State player, to write a book about playing for Paterno in 2007.

"We're sickened, we're sad, we're embarrassed by this whole thing," Pittman said. "The football program has a dark cloud over it.

"The program can recover, but it won't be easy. I think it's going to be a big challenge for us, a big hurdle to clear."


Ron Musselman: rmusselman@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rmusselmanppg.


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