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Expect Miami coach Al Golden, a former Joe Pa player, to be mentioned almost as much as Meyer‘s.

The 42-year-old Golden was a tight end at Penn State from 1987-91 and was linebackers coach there in 2000, the season after Sandusky retired.

The New Jersey native went on to become coach at Temple in Philadelphia. In four years there, he revitalized a program that was one of the worst in college football.

Miami hired him away after last season and he unexpectedly walked into a massive NCAA investigation. Even with all the tumult, Golden’s Hurrcianes are 5-4.

“We’re excited about what we’re building here. I can’t worry about what other people are saying,” Golden said Wednesday when asked about Penn State during a teleconference for Atlantic Coast Conference coaches.

There was a time Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was thought to be a top candidate to replace Paterno.

Schiano never played at Penn State, but Paterno gave him his first big break in coaching, promoting him from graduate assistant to defensive backs coach under Sandusky in 1991. Schiano, a New Jersey native, was at Penn State until 1995 and took over at Rutgers in 2001. Like Golden, Schiano turned a laughingstock program into a winner.

Schiano, who turned down a chance to coach Michigan in 2007, is not as hot an item as he was then and he appears to be comfortably settled at Rutgers.

Plus, having ties to the old Penn State crew might not work in anyone’s favor at this point.

The extent of the long-term damage caused by the Sandusky scandal is also impossible to predict and that could influence who Penn State is able to hire. NCAA President Mark Emmert has said that after legal proceedings run their course, the NCAA will determine if it has any reason to take action against Penn State.

The type of potentially program crippling sanctions _ loss of scholarships and bowl bans _ such as the ones the NCAA levied against Southern California, and could bring down on Ohio State, might not come to Penn State.

In that case, the image of the program will be tarnished, but the foundation would likely be strong.

If that’s the case, consider any top coach a candidate. Boise State’s Chris Petersen and TCU’s Gary Patterson tend to be mentioned for every job opening.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly would seemingly have everything a coach could want, but he was born in New Hampshire so maybe a move from the Northwest to the Northeast would be appealing.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has already shown he can win at a program with high-academic standards and his character has never been in question. And who better to coach Linebacker U. than a former linebacker. That said, the 36-year-old Fitzgerald went to Northwestern and is fiercely loyal to the school.

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