Penn State Coaching Search: Al Golden Once Again a Candidate?

By Zach Morrison
Al Golden
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t been following along very closely, the search for the next head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions has been crazy. There have been a ton of rumors, reports and even reports that conflict the original reports. It does appear that the search is drawing closer and closer to a conclusion, however, and it looks like it may be down to two candidates — Al Golden and James Franklin.

Golden said earlier in the week that he is “not a candidate” for the position, but on Tuesday night, an NBC affiliate in the Philadelphia area reported that Penn State still considers Golden a candidate. Clearly, Golden knows better than any source would about what is going on regarding his involvement in talks with Penn State, but it’s impossible to know if Golden was telling the truth or not.

Twitter blew up on Tuesday afternoon when it was noticed that the members of Franklin’s coaching staff at Vanderbilt University suddenly followed a bunch of members of the Nittany Lions’ 2014 recruiting class. Obviously, this instantly created speculation that Franklin may be close to accepting the head coaching position at Penn State. However, Bruce Feldman of CBS reported hours later that Penn State hadn’t yet offered anyone the job.

Franklin should be Penn State’s first choice; he is young, passionate and he has a good offensive mind — not to mention he turned Vanderbilt into a respectable football program — but Golden wouldn’t be a bad fallback plan. He would appease the people that want a “Penn State guy” to be the next football coach in Happy Valley, and he is also very qualified. Much like Franklin, Golden turned a very weak program, Temple University, into a decent program. He also has experience resurrecting a sleeping-giant type program with the Miami Hurricanes.

Either way, as long as Penn State hires Franklin or Golden they will be getting a very good coach. Both will be aggressive recruiters and both have very smart football minds — Franklin is more offensive-minded while Golden is more of a defensive coach. It is going to be a fun few days leading up to the eventual announcement of who is hired to replace Bill O’Brien.

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