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Column: Nit-picking the picks

The fun part of coaching searches is the discussion. And the discussion is fun because everyone has a guy.

Franklin's Vanderbilt offenses have left plenty to be desired during the last three years.

On this board, we have Al Golden guys. We have Larry Johnson guys. We have a ton of James Franklin guys. There are even a few Mike Munchak guys, though the enthusiasm in that particular group is somewhat lacking, perhaps because the folks in the other groups have been rather vocal in their belief that Munchak should not be anyone's guy.

Which, of course, is the other fun part of the coaching search discussions: Pooh-poohing candidates who aren't your guy.

And what makes the discussions both fun and interesting is that the reasons some people feel believe justify why their guy should be the guy are the same reasons others use to claim he shouldn't. Some like Golden and Munchak and Johnson because they're Penn State guys, and would, ostensibly, remain more loyal to the program than, perhaps, the "outsider" who just left after only two seasons.

Others don't want a Penn State guy at any cost because, to them, it would mean the complacency and familiarity that, in their eyes, kept a once-proud program running at three-quarters speed for the last several years would keep said program from regaining its status as a national presence.

To some, Munchak's 30 years in the NFL as a player or coach is a good thing, a sign that he could sell recruits on his ability to prepare them for the next level the same as Bill O'Brien did. To others, those 30 years in the pros were merely 30 years that Munchak wasn't coaching or recruiting in college, and would rather welcome someone who knows the ropes at that level.

When it comes to the respective credentials of each candidate, there has been a lot of cherry-picking. Go through every candidate's resumes and you can find things to be excited about and to raise an eyebrow at.

You can look at Munchak's tenure as the Tennessee Titans' offensive line coach and see that the Titans allowed the second-fewest sacks in the NFL, and had the seventh-most rushing yards, during those 14 seasons. You can also see that he had just four of his players selected to the Pro Bowl in those 14 years, and that the Titans finished with a winning record in only one of his three seasons as a head coach.

You could point to Franklin's success against SEC rivals with a lot more tradition -- Vanderbilt beat Georgia, Florida and Tennessee this season -- and see that his teams have been strong finishers; the Commodores won the last five games this season after winning their last seven in 2012. Or you could see that he went 1-11 against ranked opponents during his three seasons as a head coach, and that his offenses ranked 98th, 82nd and 93rd in the country in yardage.

You can say Golden did more than just about anyone else has with less at Temple, or that he had only moderate success with a ton of talent in Miami. You could spend an afternoon listing the defensive linemen Johnson has molded into NFL players, or spend three seconds pointing out that he has no head coaching or coordinating experience.

The point is, every coach has strengths and weaknesses, and we won't know how Munchak transitions from the NFL to college or how Franklin and Golden transitions from other programs to Penn State until they do. There are and will be so many other factors at play; the staff that the next Penn State coach assembles will play a huge role in his future, as will the players that sign up to play for him.

And, though the Nittany Lions have cleared many of the sanction hurdles, the next couple of seasons could and likely will be tough ones. The new coach, whether it's Franklin or Munchak or Golden or Johnson or anyone else, is going to need patience, and Penn State's fans are going to need it as well.

In any case, one of the guys is soon going to be the guy. The reasons Dave Joyner and the search committee pick him might have nothing or everything to do with any of the pros or cons listed above. It's important to keep in mind, though, that O'Brien wasn't anyone's guy -- with the exception of the committee's -- until he took the podium two years ago, and he wound up showing us a lot.

The new guy could do the same.

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