PSU AD hopes to give next coach time for recruits

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DALLAS (AP) - Penn State’s search to replace fired coach Joe Paterno could be wrapped up in the next few weeks.

Acting athletic director David Joyner said Thursday he’d like the next coach to have time to interact with recruits before high school seniors can announce their college choices starting February 1.

A four-day contact period for coaches begins Wednesday _ two days after the 24th-ranked Nittany Lions face No. 20 Houston in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. Another 16-day contact window starts Jan. 13.

“I’d like to get this finished so that whoever the head coach is, be it (interim coach Tom) Bradley or somebody else, has enough time to really interact with recruits and to do the best they can do,” Joyner said before a team dinner in Dallas.

“There’s a three-week open period (before national signing day). That would be nice. I’m not going to let that dictate if there are a couple days one way or the other. But I think it would be very good for recruits.”

Bradley took over Nov. 9 after Paterno was fired in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno, who testified before a grand jury investigating Sandusky, is not a target of the probe, the state attorney general’s office has said. Sandusky is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty.

Joyner said the search is down to a “handful of people” though interviews were not over. He also said the school was still being contacted by potential applicants.

Joyner didn’t name potential candidates, nor did he reveal how many people have interviewed.

“No, I have not made a final decision yet. I haven’t chosen to do that because we’re evaluating them and I’m still looking at candidates right now,” Joyner said.

Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are among those who have had interviews.

Among other rumored names, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak on Wednesday denied he was interested in the job at his alma mater for the third time since his former coach Paterno was fired.

“They have not contacted me in any way or talked to me about the possibility of working there,” the first-year Titans coach said. “I have not reached out to them. I have a job that I enjoy quite a bit.”

Also, Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements declined comment last week on whether he was interested in the job and would not confirm a report that he had interviewed.

Joyner and school president Rodney Erickson had initially indicated they had hoped to have Paterno’s replacement selected by the bowl game.

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