DALLAS - From Gilley's bar and honky tonk, the site of Penn State's TicketCity Bowl team meal on Thursday night, acting athletic director Dave Joyner took questions from an eager media hoping to learn more about the current coaching search.
Did his answers connect any dots as to where the Nittany Lions stand heading into the new year?
If an answer about how many candidates Penn State has interviewed (somewhere between 1 and 40, he said) is any indication, Joyner's answers did not clear up the picture much.
Check out the transcript of the media's questions and his answers below:
Give us an idea of how the coaching search is going?
Joyner: It's going fine. I mean, in all honesty, you read everything in blogs and everything and I find it interesting, anyway. But, it's going fine. We're right where I thought we'd be at this point. You know me, I don't give up too much. It's nothing against you guys, I just believe in keeping it quiet for the coaches that are interviewing and talking to us, out of respect for them, I wouldn't even tell people that Coach Bradley interviewed until he gave me permission. That's just the way I am.
Has it gone as you've expected?
Joyner: It has. As I said, we're being purposeful, deliberate, and this is the first search that Penn State has done. People haven't done searches before, I haven't, and this is the first search in football that maybe we've ever had. I'm not sure how things worked in 1950 and 1966, but I imagine it was a lot different than what we're doing now.
Can you give us an idea of how many people interviewed? Just a number?
Joyner: I don't want to give you an exact number, but I'll just say it's been a fair number of people. It's more than one and less than 40. How's that?
Have you already made a decision?
Joyner: No, I have not made a final decision yet.
We keep hearing you're getting good candidates, why can't you get someone hired?
Joyner: Well, because I haven't chosen to do that yet because we're evaluating them and I'm still looking at candidates right now.
For the record, there's a theory that you already know who you're going to hire and you're just waiting for the end of the bowl game. Is that accurate?
Joyner: No, it's not. Nope. We haven't negotiated a contract with anybody. We haven't done anything specific in those regards right now at all.
Have you narrowed it down to a number of finalists at all?
Joyner: We have a handful of people we think are worthy, but I have people contacting me even now, which is interesting even after this length of time. I'm not saying we're going to talk to those folks necessarily, not because they're not good people, but we're getting down the line here a bit, but it depends on who the contact has been with.
Joyner: I'd like to get this finished so whoever the coach is going to be, whether it's Coach Bradley or somebody else, so they have enough time (to recruit). There's that three week open period at the end there, that would be nice. I'm not going to let that (determine a deadline) if it's a couple of days one way or the other, but I think it would be very good for recruiting and I've told the recruits that. People have asked me what should recruits do, and I've said to them, look, just have them be patient and they'll have plenty of time I think to make their mind up for what they want to do with the rest of the beginning of their football career.
So, it would be sometime in January?
Joyner: Yes, I can't imagine anything else.
Next week is an open period beginning January 4, is that important to have somebody in?
Joyner: I think it's more important when we get to the last... I'm not saying it won't happen then, but I think that the most important thing is those last three weeks. It opens and then it closes again in virtually a couple of days.
Are you completed with all of your interviews?
Joyner: Not yet. We have a little bit more to do.
Why has it taken so long?
Joyner: Because we're looking at people in a systematic way and looking for some very important qualities that this program has been known for for many, many years. I'm not saying that there aren't other programs out there that are high quality, I'm not saying that about anything else, but we have a very special place that has been for a long time and we want to continue being a special place like we have been. I feel like rather than speed, it's more important there's accuracy.
How important is experience as an assistant or a head coach?
Joyner: It certainly is a consideration but not necessarily the defining factor. It's certainly a desirable thing.
Joyner: Oh yeah, I've seen some of the rumors, sure. I think somebody wrote that Knute Rockne is coming back? No. I'm just kidding. If I tell you what my favorite rumor is you'll know that wasn't true then, right? Then you guys will be able to eliminate things and start to figure something out.
Have you been satisfied with the quality of candidates who are still involved?
Joyner: Yes, I am. We've had some very, very high quality people both on and off the football field, so I think... we tried to interview people that we felt reflected the traditions of this place. So, that's kind of how we looked at doing it in the first place.
Do you feel like you have to hit a homerun? They hit one with Cael Sanderson. I think your fan base may think you have a home run up your sleeve. Do you feel like you have to have that home run candidate?
Joyner: Well, it depends on how you judge a home run.
How do you judge it?
Joyner: I judge it by getting the person that has those qualities that we're used to having at the university and I think if we get somebody that reflects the values that have been at this university for a long time, and the football program in particular, then I'll feel like we've hit a home run.
Does it have to be a huge name that everybody knows?
Joyner: It doesn't have to be. In my opinion, to hit a home run, because time will tell if you hit a home run. Once you hit the ball, you don't know if it's going out of the park until it ends up there, right? So, it will take time to know for sure, but we're going to do the very best we can.
Is Penn State still committed to having a top 25, top 10 kind of football team?
Joyner: Absolutely. We're committed to having the highest quality program both on and off the field and we're committed to continuing to emphasize the things that we've emphasized for the last 50 years or however long, the highest academic and highest ethical standards and winning national championships all in the same bucket.
Joyner: I've talked to (Dr. Rodney Erickson) and it's not that we want to de-emphasize football or athletics, it's that we just want to re-emphasize the things that we've done, that we've traditionally done, and we want to continue to keep our eye on that and continue it and have the finest student athletes that we can have and the finest athletics.
Did you place too much emphasis on it before?
Joyner: No, I think we've always placed the proper balance, the university has always had a great balance between academics and athletics.