STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Some have criticized Penn State for having a lack of "football minds" on its search committee, which is now in a second week of its pursuit to find the university's new head football coach.
Committee member Linda Caldwell said she has heard those comments and understands that some people feel that way. She even said she does not consider herself a "football mind."
However, Caldwell said she thinks the strategic way in which Penn State president Rodney Erickson and acting athletic director Dave Joyner formed the committee was "absolutely the right thing."
Aside from Joyner and Caldwell, who is Penn State's faculty athletics representative to the NCAA, the committee consists of women's volleyball coach Russ Rose, associate athletic director Charmelle Green, Philadelphia-based investment manager Ira Lubert and professor emeritus John Nichols.
"Faculty perspective has to be on this committee," Caldwell said Monday from her office on campus. "I think that there's enough talent in the committee to deal with the Xs and Os part of it, the football part of it. And just because the committee is constituted doesn't mean that there's not people that we consult with that could provide that experience."
Caldwell was unable to speak on a number of topics related to the search because of confidentiality issues. She would not say whether the committee has started to interview potential candidates. The committee is still in the process of finding out which coaches are "out there," she said, but is "still constantly getting people who are interested."
"We've been meeting. We're constantly in communication with each other," Caldwell said. "We talk on the phone. Shoot e-mails. We meet in person often."
Erickson said last week that he hopes to have a new head coach in place by Penn State's bowl game. The Nittany Lions found out Sunday night that they will play in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas against Houston on Jan. 2. In terms of the timetable to make a hire, Caldwell said she knows nothing more than what Erickson said last week.
Caldwell, who doubles as a professor in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development, has held her position as the school's faculty representative since July 1, 2010. She said she has been on every search committee but one since her appointment, including the committee that found men's basketball coach Pat Chambers.
When considering football coach candidates, she said one of the things the committee examines is the applicant's record with graduating student-athletes.
"I feel that my particular role is to make sure that we get somebody who values academics and student welfare. And so that is on the top of our list," Caldwell said. "That's really telling if there is that attitude. Of course, coach [Joe] Paterno did a fabulous job with that, in terms of making sure kids graduated and setting that bar, and so we're continuing that. That's a huge part of what we're looking for."