Dave Joyner Press Conference Transcript
Jan. 2, 2014
Dr. David Joyner
Dave Joyner: Good morning again, everybody. Thanks for coming. As you are aware, Bill O'Brien has informed Penn State that he is resigning from his position as head coach of the football program to become head coach in the National Football League for the Houston Texans.
A national search will begin immediately to select Penn State's 16th head football coach, and we are very much looking forward to a very positive result from this search. As such, we've instituted a search committee, the members of which we have printed for you, but I will go over them.
I will function as the chair of that committee. Dr. Tom Poole, who's Vice President for Administration of the University, serves on the committee, as well as Charmelle Green, our Senior Women's Administrator. Dr. Linda Caldwell, the Faculty Athletics Representative and distinguished professor. Bob Warming, Head Coach for men's soccer, and Wally Richardson, director of the Penn State Football Letterman's Club.
I'll take your questions in a second. I just want to emphasize we're happy for Coach O'Brien and this tremendous opportunity for him, and at the same time we're grateful for the last two years at Penn State, and Bill laying a foundation upon a great foundation that already existed here.
Having said that, though, we're focused on the future of Penn State Athletics, collegiate athletics and Penn State football, and we're going to have a very robust search, which will bring us a great next head football coach.
With that, I'll be happy to entertain questions.
Q. Dave, there's questions about who the next president and potentially AD is going to be. How do you address the prospective candidates who are going to be asking that question?
Dave Joyner: Good question. It's no secret that President Erickson will be stepping down no later than the end of June this year. Programs transitions occur in programs all over the place at different times, and athletic programs survive and go on and move forward. My answer to that would be that Penn State's got a great tradition of great presidents and administrators, and I would say to any prospective coach that Penn State will continue with that great tradition no matter who is at the helm and who is head of the university.
Q. Do you have a timetable for deciding upon a coach? Is it something that we can expect in a week or two, or is it that may take longer?
Q. When over the last, whether it was the last year, two years since Coach O'Brien was hired, or even in the last couple of months, did you get any indication from him that the NFL was going to be coming up soon and this wasn't a long term option for him at Penn State?
I believe that Bill O'Brien was presented with just a tremendous opportunity that was one that, for his family and his future, he just could not pass up. So I believe he always had Penn State's best interests at heart and this is just something that came up that he couldn't pass up. We wish him well.
Q. When did you first learn that Bill was talking with the Texans? And did you meet with Bill after his talks to see if you could sweeten the pot a little?
But on-going for the last several weeks, it would be fair to say, we've been working with Bill and his folks to try to make his contract and his arrangement here as advantageous as we could possibly do. So we were continuing in that vein all through this process, but I didn't get official verbal notification from him until several days ago, when things came out.
Q. There have been a lot of names that have been bandied about as possible head coach. Is it too early to expand on that? Any names that you're looking at for this position?
But having said that, as you know, we keep this very confidential, and we treat it that way, as we always have, and we will, not just with a head football coaching search but with any coaching search. So you will see myself, as well as the committee, we will not be commenting on any details of the search or personnel or people that you might think about or even read about. You won't be getting or hearing that information from us.
But I'll leave it with, it's going to be a very robust search, and there's an extreme amount of interest in this for a lot of reasons. We have a great fan base here. We have tremendous interest. Look at the media that's in this room. We have the fifth largest (average home) attendance again this year, and the kind of support that a head coach will get here from the community, as well as the media, as well as our fans and our student athletes in the Penn State community will be tremendous. So that kind of excitement, that kind of fervor really is the undercurrent of this search.
Q. Building off of that, I know that you can't give any names, but how many head coaches or how many coaches have applied for this job? Or have any interviews already taken place?
Q. Dave, two things. In the off season, I think it was June, you guys restructured Coach O'Brien's contract. Could you speak to why you guys did that. You restructured the contract, and the buyout became different. Is it safe to say the buyout was $6.5 million when you guys did restructure it?
Q. Supposedly several kids in the recruiting class of 2014 intend to enroll in January. When will they have to decide? Have they already had to decide? Do you know anything about what their decisions are? Or do they have to decide when you pick a coach?
Q. Dave, how important is it to get at least some level of confirmation from the next coach that he's going to be here for a while? That this isn't going to be a two or three year type process where I know you guys can't give guarantees for a long time, but how important will that be that the next person is here for a while?
So that will be very important in our efforts going forward here as well, and, again, I reiterate things change sometimes. You can't predict. And I think Bill just had an opportunity presented to him that was one that he couldn't pass up.
Q. I believe you had Board (of Trustees) members on the search committee the last time around. If you could speak to that; why no Board members this time.
Q. Have you decided that, once the president is changed, whether you plan to continue in your role as AD?
Q. Dave, has Bill talked about members of the team at all? Can you gauge their reaction, what they think about this move?
Having said that, though, I know Bill is very up front, as you know, and I know that he's spoken to players and made a great effort to do that, and we're very appreciative of that, that he's done that.
Q. What would the three characteristics be that would get someone on your short list of candidates?
Q. And football related skills to add to that third one?
Q. You spoke about Larry Johnson as interim head coach. Do you know about any of the other assistant coaches on staff that will be joining Bill?
So you will see over the next several weeks as this whole thing plays out. Once the head coach is named and staff are solidified, I'm sure you'll see some changes. You may see some consistencies as well.
Q. Coach Hixon hasn't said anything to you about other coaches going yet?
Q. Is there a deadline for those guys to let you know they're leaving? And what was the process to make Coach Johnson the head coach?
And the next was why Coach Johnson? I said it before. He's an extremely stable individual who's very well thought of. He's an excellent leader. He has a long history with Penn State, and he's a great representative of what Penn State football and Penn State University is all about.
I think he's got the respect of both recruits as well as the student athletes that are here. So in my book, Larry is a solid very solid individual who will be a solid base as we get through this.
Q. Penn State has had a long tradition of hiring people with ties to the university although that necessarily hasn't been the case over the last few years. There is a group of people, the fan base, that would like to see the next coach have some kind of ties here. Perhaps that might keep the coach longer. Is that a criteria at all, and do you understand why some of your fans may want somebody that has strong ties to the university already?
But our job is to select, regardless of someone's history, as long as it's a positive history, our job is going to be to select the next great head football coach at Penn State and to get the best football coach available for Penn State University.
Q. A lot of coaches have different ways of coaching, different ways to run a program. Are you looking for someone to continue what Bill started here or just looking for the best coach you can find right now?
A head coach is really a chief executive officer of the program, and so things other than on the field abilities filter in a great deal to their ability to be a successful head coach their organizational skills, their sense of timing, how do they relate to people, etc....So all those things will go into consideration.
Q. Dave, what process did you guys use to come up with the members who make up the search committee?
Charmelle Green is our Senior Women's Administrator. You know, that's a very significant position within any athletic department, and she has she's a former All American in softball. So she was a great athlete. She understands coaching administration. She understands all that goes into being a student athlete as well as an administrator and how you relate to that.
Linda Caldwell is our very, very adept Faculty Athletics Rep. At Penn State, we always want to have faculty involved in these type of searches, and Linda is tremendous she's been involved in a number of searches. She's even chaired searches in our athletic department. So Linda understands the interface between a student athlete and success on the field. So she's a very important member of this (committee).
Dr. Tom Poole is an outstanding individual who's very organized, and he acts as a great bridge between also academics but as well as in the president's office. So Dr. Tom will be a very, very strong asset to this.
Coach Warming, I like to have a head coach on the search committee for another head coach. Coach Warming has had tremendous success both in and out of the classroom. He's won Big Ten Championships. He's been in the NCAA (Tournament), not just here, but where he came from before. So Coach Warming understands all aspects very well of a head coaching job.
And then Wally Richardson, he was a tremendous student athlete here in the mid '90s. He's a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete. So he understands what being a football player at Penn State is, and he understands the interface between a great head coach and student athletes.
So Wally also, as being director of the Football Letterman's Club, he is a representative, if you will, of those interests, and we felt that was a very important thing to do in selecting this committee.
Q. Dave, in the last couple years, this job certainly has changed, most likely become more attractive. What would you kind of take from the first search as far as things that maybe you want to do either similarly or different this time around, going through the whole process again?
We effectively, from a scholarship standpoint, we're going to be very competitive right out of the gate. To me, if I was a head coach, that would be a very positive thing. Watching what's happened here over the last two years, if I was a head coach candidate, it would make me very excited. Our Big Ten attendance at the end of the year you and I talked a lot about attendance, I know. But the upswing with our efforts at the end of the year is tremendous going into next year from the attendance and the fan support.
So I can't emphasize the Whiteouts and the unbelievable atmosphere that's here. So as a head coach, I would be extremely excited about coming into a place like this at this time.
Some things we learned last time, we were very deliberate. We're going to be deliberate this time but faster, and we were deliberate and slower on purpose last time because of all the extra things that were going on around us. It's probably the most difficult time, if not on any university campus, at least in any university athletic department from all the extra noise that was out there and all of it understandable.
So the atmosphere, the attitudes, the feeling around here we're very, very sorry to see Bill go. He's a tremendous person and a tremendous football coach. But every new challenge brings new opportunities. So that's the way we look at it. We look at it in a very positive way going forward.
Q. Dave, Deion Barnes just Tweeted, "I know me and many players would love to have Larry Johnson as our head coach." Will Larry be considered? And will the players, the current players have much or any impact or say in the search?
We certainly are sensitive to our student athletes and what their attitudes are and thoughts and feelings always. Coach Johnson, as I said, is a tremendous individual. And if Coach Johnson wants to get into this mix, he will be very much welcomed and will certainly get every strong consideration of someone of his stature.
Q. Dave, how important is head coaching experience in your criteria?
But our job is to get the best coach available out there. Certainly, head coaching experience is a very desirable requisite.
Q. Dave, as to Wally Richardson being on the coaching search committee, how important was it for you guys to have another football alum on this search in terms of what you went through last time?
And having Wally here and able to do that will be a tremendous input into this search process.
Q. Dave, you said earlier that you were working with Bill O'Brien to make a contract advantageous. From your perspective, how did you feel that that was going at the time?
Q. There's some different faces on the search committee this time. What's the advantage of having different people, different eyes from two years ago, in your perspective?
So I look at this the diversity, if you will, of serving on the search committee to be very positive as we conduct this search.
Q. You said that you believe that Bill came here with the intent to be here for the long haul. In the end, why do you feel he wasn't here for the long haul? And how much do you feel, if at all, the dissension, the scholarship, living in the Paterno shadow played a role in his willingness to leave?
But, again, I think just a tremendous opportunity came up for him, somebody that had roots in the NFL, although he coached far longer in college. People don't talk about, but he coached far longer in college than he did in the pros, so he could span both areas. But I just think the opportunity was too good for him to pass up. Hence we find ourselves here.
Q. Dave, I want to ask, will the new coach, whoever it is, have complete and total autonomy with his staff? Or are there any current members on the staff who maybe have influence to stay on if it is somebody who's not on the staff right now or anything like that? Or will the coach have complete power over the decisions on that?
Q. There was a report a couple days ago that indicated that Bill O'Brien had just some issues and frustrations with the, quote, unquote, Paterno faction. How is the administration going to address that issue, if there is one, and how can the new coach move on without having to deal with the potential underlying problem there?
I think that it's a great opportunity for a head coach, and that's what I'll talk to them about, to come here with a place that has a lot of life and a lot of interest, and I view our great fan energy as a positive, and I think that a new head coach will find that as well.
Q. Christian Hackenberg and his family have stated to be on the fence waiting to see who you pick. I think it's fair to say that such a kind of quarterback friendly coach they would like to see, as opposed to some other candidate. What impact, if at all, is that going to be on the guy you ultimately choose?
I think Christian will tell you he came here because of Penn State. He loved Bill O'Brien, but the university itself is such a foundation in greatness, not just in football, but every aspect of the university, so that had a lot of bearing on Christian coming here. I'm not speaking for him, but I think, if you ask him, he'd probably respond that way.
Our job for Christian and all the student athletes here is to get the best football coach possible, to lead them as we move forward, and we make our pledge to do that, and we make our pledge to do that in a contracted time frame, but do it appropriately and with great thought and great analysis, and hopefully this time in the not too distant future Christian and the rest of our student athletes will be very happy with the new coach selection and will be enthusiastic about continuing their careers at Penn State.
Q. Is it a disproportionate consideration, considering that he is pretty much the core of your offense?