Interim coach Tom Bradley will lead the Nittany Lions against the University of Houston in the Jan. 2 TicketCity Bowl in Dallas and has not been interviewed yet by the six-member search committee headed by Joyner.
Joyner has said the committee will interview Bradley. Bradley told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday the delay was because of scheduling conflicts with recruiting and other team events.
The identities of possible candidates has mostly been a matter of speculation, in keeping with Penn State's close-to-the-vest approach.
Joyner shot down rush-to-judgment reports that Boise State coach Chris Petersen and Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak, a Penn State alum, had been hired or soon would be.
Unlike Texas A & M, which hired Kevin Sumlin as coach only 9 days after firing Mike Sherman this month, the Penn State way apparently is to take things slow and steady, and to get it right rather than to get it done fast. That is reasonable enough, considering that the school hasn't had to select a head football coach since Paterno replaced Rip Engle after the 1965 season.
"We're about exactly where I wanted to be at this point in time," said Joyner, who has been in his new job about a month since replacing Tim Curley, another casualty of the Sandusky fallout.
"We may be conducting our search a little different than other people. I'm not saying they're not, but we're being very methodical and precise about what we're doing and who we're talking to.
"I wouldn't call [the process] challenging. You have to look at what's out there, who's available and what their backgrounds are. There are lots of people that have focus [a dedication to sustained success by players in the classroom as well as on the football field] on life. We don't have a lack of people to look at."
Jimmy Shapiro, a sports publicist for Props PR, yesterday gave 3-1 odds against Penn State's announcing its new head coach before the TicketCity Bowl.
In an interview with USA Today, new Penn State president Rodney Erickson said the three qualities the search committee wants in a coach are integrity, dedication to academics, and an ability to win football games.
Penn State is justifiably proud of the work done by its football players in the classroom, and Joyner said he expects that to continue to be the case with a new coach. The American Football Coaches Association yesterday recognized Penn State for having a graduation rate of 75 percent (over a 6-year period) for the 21st time in 25 years. That mark is tied for third with Rice among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools, and trails only Notre Dame and Virginia, each with 22.
"It means everything," Joyner said of Penn State's high graduation rate for student-athletes. "It shows that the 'Grand Experiment' that involves everybody here is working, and that you can participate in high-level, national-caliber athletics and still maintain the excellent focus on your academic life."
Interestingly, Joyner's remarks made no reference either to Paterno, who long ago coined the "Grand Experiment" phrase to describe what has become Penn State's vision of itself, or to Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator whose arrest has stained the school's "success with honor" mantra.
Joyner said there is no reason why the football program can't excel both on and off the field.
"I want to continue our focus, and so does the president, on the integration of the proper balance between athletics and academics, as demonstrated by our successes over the years," Joyner said. "My goal is not to change anything specifically about how we approach academics and athletics, but to continue to emphasize what we've always done in the past."
Still the one
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Devon Still continued to add to his boatload of honors with yesterday's announcement that he was a first-team All-America selection by The Sporting News.
Still, a 6-5, 310-pounder from Wilmington, Del., by way of his native Camden, previously had been named a first-team All-America by the Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation, Football Writers Association of America, ESPN.com, CBSsports.com, SI.com, FoxSportsNet.com/Scout.com, Pro Football Weekly and Yahoo Sports.
He also was named the Big Ten Conference's Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year and Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to being a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy.