Surprise coaching search begins at Penn State

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He declined comment when contacted Tuesday by the AP, except saying the Penn State opening “would be a great opportunity for anyone.” Flannery could be intriguing given the odd timing of DeChellis’ departure, a point when most schools have their coaching staffs in place.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale on his Twitter feed promoted former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight, certainly a name that would raise any school’s profile. But Knight, now 70, has his history of volatility that doesn’t fit Penn State’s image.

There are other possibilities with Pennsylvania ties that currently have coaching jobs, such as Milwaukee’s Rob Jeter, Drexel’s Bruiser Flint, Marshall’s Tom Herrion and Duquesne’s Ron Everhart.

Jeter was born in Pittsburgh, Flint has built the Dragons into a consistent CAA contender in the shadows of the more high-profile Philadelphia programs, Herrion was an assistant at Pitt, and Everhart has taken the Dukes, who have long played second fiddle to the Panthers in Pittsburgh, to postseason play the past three seasons.

Former Penn State forward Jamelle Cornley, who led the NIT championship team, praised DeChellis for preaching integrity. An NCAA Academic Progress Report released Tuesday showed Penn State scoring 995 out of 1,000, tied for the best mark in the Big Ten with Michigan State.

He called DeChellis an “honorable man” for which he will always have deep appreciation. On the court, Cornley said the next coach must establish an identity for the program, or a younger coach with “swagger.”

“It’s establishing an identity. And that is something that a Penn State program has yet to see for sometime,” Cornley, who now plays in Argentina, wrote in an email. “I feel the next coach has to approach his players and community with an attitude that demonstrates ‘grit’ and that identity factor. A willingness to lay it all out with a no-holds-bar mentality.”

Salary could be another stumbling block. An open records report from Penn State last year showed DeChellis’ compensation package totaled $709,000. That was the lowest among the coaches of the seven Big Ten teams that made the NCAAs this season, according to a recent USA Today analysis.

Curley said Penn State would pay a “competitive salary” to ensure the school attracts the right candidate.

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