Posts tagged ‘Ira Lubert’
First impressions won’t help Bill O’Brien win a single football game — not directly, anyway — but Penn State’s 15th head football coach knew there was much more at stake Saturday morning. In his introduction as the Nittany Lions’ new coach, O’Brien looked and sounded like a man who understood those stakes. He also didn’t look the least bit intimidated.
Greeting a packed Nittany Lion Inn ballroom with the words “This is unbelievable,” O’Brien came off intense, confident, and fully aware of what he’s gotten himself into. With his wife, Colleen, and the younger of his two sons sitting in the front row and roughly 100 media members crammed in behind them, O’Brien offered a statement and took questions. He covered a lot of ground. Among the highlights:
—He acknowledged the unrest regarding the coaching search among fans and former players, reading from a letter he’d written in which he asked for the chance to earn Penn Staters’ respect: “There is so much pride in Penn State, and we will never take that for granted, ever.” (It’s worth noting that LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short, former players who were most critical of the search that led to O’Brien’s hiring, have begun walking back their comments, and the Football Letterman’s Club on Saturday released a letter welcoming O’Brien and pledging support.)
—He spoke of growing up admiring Penn State’s program and image, and Joe Paterno in particular. Of his fellow Brown alum, O’Brien said, “I can’t wait to meet him at some point.”
—He said he planned to complete his coaching staff in the next “two or three days,” and while not ruling out any other members of the current staff, announced that Nittany Lion defensive line coach and ace recruiter Larry Johnson Sr. will be retained. (Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley released a statement Saturday all but confirming his time at the program has come to an end.)
—He spoke briefly of his football philosophy, promising a “game-plan offense” — a phrase that immediately had the message boards buzzing, and which seems to imply innovation and adaptability to what opposing defenses present — and a continuation of Penn State’s reputation for dominant defenses.
There’s much, much more, and if you missed it, you can watch O’Brien’s press conference — including introductory remarks from University president Rod Erickson and acting athletic director Dave Joyner — in its entirety on BTN.com. I imagine we’ll be writing about Coach O’Brien once or twice in the coming days and weeks as well.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything.
That’s been the smart observer’s mantra regarding Penn State’s search for a new head football coach, a title Tom Bradley ’78, ’86g has held on an interim basis for more than a month. Bradley coached the Nittany Lions in their final three regular season games, and is expected to coach the team at least through its appearance in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2. Beyond that? Virtually no one seems to know anything. Since late November, when the University announced the formation of a search committee to find Joe Paterno’s replacement, the rumors have been torrential—and the actual news non-existent.
Acting athletic director David Joyner ’72, ’76g heads the search committee, and he’s said little publicly about the search. The rare exceptions have been shooting down rumors of interviews or pending hires when asked about them by reporters, or the couple of video Q&As he’s done on GoPSUSports.com. The second of those was posted Thursday, and you can see it below.
The emotions of those following the search range from curious to increasingly panic stricken—one recent post on a Penn State football message board was dedicated to counting the days fans have been “held hostage” waiting for a new coach. In the video, Joyner is asked, essentially, what’s taking so long. His response? “We’re about exactly where I wanted to be at this point in time. We may be conducting our search a little different than other people; not saying they’re not, but we’re being very methodical and precise about what we’re doing and who we’re talking to.”
Joyner also says “We don’t have a lack of people to look at,” and indeed, the list of coaches who, without any confirmation, have been connected to the Penn State job is lengthy. Blue White Illustrated maintains a “hot board” (subscription required) of potential candidates, and essentially every Penn State and national college football writer has dedicated column inches to the speculation. Thursday brought what might’ve been the steadiest stream of rumors that the job had in fact been filled; the fact that the Wikipedia entry for Boise State coach Chris Petersen was briefly tweaked to claim he’d been hired by Penn State only added to the lunacy.
What seems clear is that Joyner and the rest of the committee are focused less on soothing the curiosity (or panic) of fans than they are making the right hire. When, and how, that happens remains anyone’s guess, but we’ll end with one fact we find instructive: The more informed media speculation has focused on Joyner and fellow committee member Ira Lubert ’73 as the key figures in this search. That matters (or seems to) because Joyner and Lubert—former Nittany Lion wrestling teammates—are widely credited with convincing Cael Sanderson to leave his alma mater and take over the Penn State wrestling program. Sanderson, of course, is the biggest name in collegiate wrestling, and he led the Lions to a national title last spring.
Is there a comparable hire for the Penn State football job? Probably not. But there is a right one, and in Joyner and Lubert, there’s a precedent for finding it.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Most of the news media that swarmed all over town in early November are gone—at least for now. I do see a big truck marked “Court TV In Session” parked along College Avenue on my way to work each morning, but for the most part the frenzy seems to have subsided.
(I’m sure the media will descend again as Dec. 13, the date of the preliminary hearing for Jerry Sandusky, approaches. See this story from the Centre Daily Times about the expected influx of reporters and cameras on the 13th.)
Meanwhile, at the magazine offices we’re focused pretty intently on trying to finish the January-February issue, which will be devoted almost entirely to the crisis and its fallout. And we’re also trying to keep up with online coverage of the scandal: Penn State may not be the lead story on the TV news anymore (thank goodness), but there’s still a steady stream of newspaper and magazine coverage on the Web.
I’ve already posted two previous lists of articles that I think are worth reading (here and here). In case you haven’t reached the saturation point yet, here are 10 that I’ve read more recently that I’d also recommend:
1. “My Second Mile: How I Grew Up With The Now-Doomed Organization.” Thomas L. Day ’03, who first wrote about the scandal for the Washington Post, is back with a piece at Deadspin.com about his own experience as a Second Mile kid. It was a good experience and, he says, somehow the news media doesn’t want to hear about those.
2. “Missteps at Every Turn.” In this week’s Sports Illustrated, a harsh look at Penn State’s handling of the events, especially the naming of Ken Frazier ’75 to chair the Trustees’ special investigations task force and Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g as acting athletic director.
3. “Rich in Success, Rooted in Secrecy.” This ran in the New York Times more than a week ago, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until now. It’s a profile of former Penn State President Graham Spanier and the mixed (more…)
Penn State announced today that a search committee has been formed as a first step in naming a replacement for Joe Paterno, who was fired Nov. 9 during the most dizzying and distressing week in the University’s history.
As expected, acting athletic director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g heads the six-member committee, which also includes two faculty members, an athletic department administrator, a coach, and an alumnus. It’s a small group, which could be a good thing; a search committee with, say, 15 members on it would’ve just screamed “bureaucracy.”
Three names on the committee stood out for me: women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose, retired faculty member John Nichols, and alumnus Ira Lubert ’73.
Russ Rose is, of course, one of Penn State’s most prominent and successful coaches. He also is a straight shooter; I suspect the committee will benefit from his candor (and sense of humor). John Nichols is a longtime faculty member in the College of Communications, a former chair of the Faculty Senate, and current chair of a reform group called the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics.
As for Ira Lubert, he has worked for years in the financial sector in Philadelphia. He is both an Alumni Fellow and a Distinguished Alumnus of Penn State and is a current member of the Board of Trustees. He and Joyner were wrestling teammates at Penn State in the early 1970s and have stayed friends ever since. Lubert has given a good bit of money to Penn State, including the wrestling program.
Tina Hay, editor