As multiple reports indicate, Penn State and its coaching search committee seem to be making some headway in terms of landing Bill O'Brien's successor.
But just how much headway is still an uncertainty.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday morning that former Tennessee Titans head coach and Penn State alumnus Mike Munchak would interview for the job on the same day.
ESPN.com college football reporter Brett McMurphy reported earlier on Friday that Munchak, Franklin and Miami head coach Al Golden are Penn State's top candidates to fill O'Brien's post, which became vacant when he officially resigned on Thursday to take the head coaching job with the Houston Texans.
However, one of those potential successors has withdrawn his name from consideration.
Golden reaffirmed his commitment to the Hurricanes in a press release on Sunday.
Miami released the following statement:
"There has been much speculation concerning my future at the University of Miami. While I am flattered that our progress at The U during an extremely difficult period of time is recognized, I am also appreciative of just what we have here at UM and I am not a candidate for another position. We are eager to welcome our student athletes back to campus next week and visit with prospective student-athletes and their families beginning January 15."
But in a phone interview with the Collegian, McMurphy said he was told Friday these reports are “absolutely inaccurate.”
McMurphy reported Saturday that Golden was scheduled to meet with Penn State officials the same day. Golden, according to the report, was supposed to talk with Penn State brass on Friday, but the meeting was canceled due to weather.
Munchak was thought to be staying in Nashville after The Tennessean reported Friday that Munchak would be retained by the Titans despite an up-and-down three-year career in Tennessee. But, Mortensen reported Saturday afternoon that the former Penn State lineman was fired, according to league sources.
While Joyner said Thursday that the program was looking for a coach that sees Penn State as a destination job, Franklin might not fall into that category if recent reports are any indication.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday morning that Franklin not only interviewed for the Texans head coaching job two weeks ago, but also has received requests to interview with the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns — making a move to the NFL a possibility for the Penn State target.
Golden, of course, has a wealth of coaching experience and owns ties to Penn State and Pennsylvania as a whole. Golden played under Joe Paterno as a tight end from 1987 to 1991, served as the Lions' captain in 1991 and was Penn State's linebackers coach in 2000.
And McMurphy said this previous relationship could be especially key due to the instability within Penn State administration — with neither the president nor athletic director of the future known. Since future leadership is not clear, this could narrow the search committee’s qualified options, McMurphy believes, and thus require Penn State to depend on a polished alum such as Golden to take the role.
“Whether it’s Penn State or any school, a coach doesn’t want to come in to a new tradition and not know who his boss is going to be,” McMurphy said. “It makes you think twice about it. What if they bring in some guy you absolutely cannot work with?”
But it doesn't appear as though Golden is headed for Happy Valley.
Meanwhile, Franklin's name is one of the hottest on the coaching market after turning Vanderbilt into a successful football program, and McMurphy said there's a lot of positives to the Commodores head coach.
“They’ve been a laughing stock in the SEC forever," McMurphy said of the Commodores' history. "He’s come in and they’re trying to win consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. So he’s been accomplishing a lot of firsts at that school. His strength is his recruiting. He’s an unbelievable recruiter, and obviously he’s a native of the state.”
Under Franklin, the Commodores have reached three consecutive bowl games, including Saturday's appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Franklin also has Pennsylvania ties, as the offensive specialist was born in Langhorne and played college football at East Stroudsburg University.
Stay tuned for more updates from the Collegian throughout the weekend as Penn State's coaching search continues.
John McGonigal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jmcgonigal9. John Stuetz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnStuetz_PSU.