Last week's announcement of Penn State's six-person search committee tasked with finding a replacement for former coach Joe Paterno hardly sparked speculation about potential candidates for the head coaching job, it simply kicked it into overdrive.
Fans and media have been guessing and conjecturing about possible good fits to replace Paterno for 20 years. They've been speculating so long, in fact, that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, the man now facing child sex abuse charges and a key player in Paterno's firing on November 9, was once on the short list of likely successors.
Consequently, a lot of names have been connected to the job over time and there's an expectation that many of them will be players before the search ends. Reporting over the last couple of weeks, however, suggests there are a few prominent coaches who were once favorites that can now likely be crossed off the list.
Here's a quick guide to candidates fans can probably give up hope for, although it's never wise to say "never" in the unpredictable world of college sports...
Pat Fitzgerald: A recent Happy Valley flavor-of-the-month, Fitzgerald has earned the favor of Nittany Lions fans while serving as head coach for Penn State's Big Ten whipping boy, Northwestern. His fiery personality and clean track record has has put a shine on his mediocre 40-35 overall record and 0-3 bowl record in six seasons. Reporting from the Harrisburg Patriot-News' David Jones on Nov. 28, however, said Fitzgerald is not interested in the Penn State job and with his good work at traditional doormat and alma mater Northwestern, it's hard to doubt Jones' sources are correct.
Greg Sciano: A former graduate assistant at Penn State, Schiano earned his way into the hearts of many fans in guiding Rutgers to five-straight bowl appearances between 2005 and 2009. His 11-2 record with the Scarlet Knights in 2006, especially, led to much speculation that he might replace Paterno, though interest has cooled as his Rutgers program has regressed to the mean in recent years. Jones reports his sources say Schiano is not interested in taking over in Happy Valley, either.
Al Golden: Like Fitzgerald, Golden has been a fan favorite for years thanks to his intense antics and spotless reputation as head coach at Temple between 2006 and 2010. A former tight end and defensive assistant for the Lions, Golden is now the head coach at Miami, where he recently signed an extension to his contract that runs through 2019. The Miami New Times reported Monday that Golden turned down interest from UCLA for its vacant head coaching position, and though he refused to completely rule out heading to Penn State last month, his comfortable contract situation in Coral Gables and apparent lack of interest in a new job make his chances of landing in Happy Valley remote.
Kirk Ferentz: Upper St. Clair's favorite son has made a name for himself as head coach at Iowa, where he's compiled a 96-65 record with the Hawkeyes and been a thorn in Penn State's side for years. Like Golden, Ferentz has a comfortable contract situation, though (he's signed through 2020) and Marc Morehouse of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa said Sunday night that Ferentz is "definitely not going to Penn State."