Big Ten: David Joyner

Big Ten reversing SEC brain drain

January, 29, 2014
As the coach hiring season nears an end, we're examining the Big Ten coaching landscape and some recent trends. Today, we take a look at how recent coaching hires in the league have reversed the SEC brain drain.

When Bret Bielema left Wisconsin for Arkansas in December 2012, it sent shock waves throughout the Big Ten.

Why would a guy who had led his program to three straight Rose Bowls and Big Ten titles, one who was a Midwesterner through and through, decide to bolt for a mid-level SEC program? And if the Big Ten couldn't keep a guy like that from heading south, did it have any hope of keeping its best coaches around?

Bielema's exit wasn't the only example of coaching talent bred in the Midwest flocking to the SEC, after all. Nick Saban famously left Michigan State for LSU back in the day. Michigan man Les Miles coaches LSU. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is a Purdue grad. Tennessee's Butch Jones is a Michigan native, while Georgia's Mark Richt was born in Omaha, Neb.

But offseason hires in the Big Ten this winter should alleviate fears that the league will always suffer from an SEC brain drain. Conference teams looked south to fill several high-profile openings:
  • [+] EnlargeJames Franklin
    Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY SportsLuring "Pennsylvania boy" James Franklin from the SEC to Penn State could be the start of a trend to get coaches with Midwestern roots back home.
    Penn State hired James Franklin (and just about all of his staff) away from Vanderbilt. Sure, Vandy is no powerhouse program, but the Commodores reportedly offered him a 10-year, $50 million contract to stay in Nashville.
  • Michigan lured Doug Nussmeier away from Saban and Alabama and hired him as the Wolverines' new offensive coordinator. While there were some rumblings that Saban wasn't exactly sorry to see Nussmeier go, the Tide did average 38.2 points per game last season.
  • In a bit of sweet irony, Ohio State swiped Bielema's Arkansas defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, naming him the Buckeyes' new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

It makes sense that Big Ten schools with important vacancies would turn their attention to the SEC. If you can't beat 'em, become 'em, after all. But those in charge of the hiring say that poaching the SEC wasn't really at the forefront of their minds.

"We were trying to get the very best person who fit within how Penn State is and what we do who was available," Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said. "It just so happens that this great coach had a great experience in the SEC. If you just look at the football piece of it, having the success that he had in the SEC -- obviously the most successful conference over the past eight or nine years perhaps if you look at national championships -- that was a very strong positive."

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon noted that Nussmeier was born in Oregon and has coached at Washington and Michigan State, while only spending the past two years in the SEC with Saban.

"To me, it’s more coincidental than anything that’s more strategic," Brandon said of the recent Big Ten hires. "You're going to see Big Ten coaches moving around and the same for coaches from other conferences. I don’t think where they're from is as relevant as how we view their talent and experience and how well prepared they are to come in and help us at Michigan."

Still, it's good for the league and its image that high-profile coaches are willing to leave the bright lights of the SEC and take their talents to the Midwest for essentially the same positions. Ash accepted a small pay cut to abandon Bielema's ship, going from a sole coordinator's role to a job where he is officially, at least, sharing coordinator duties. Ash, tellingly, was born in Iowa and spent most of his career coaching in that state and Wisconsin before going to Dixie.

"He's kind of a Midwest guy," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. "He has Midwest values. He's coming home, in my opinion."

And maybe that's the best selling point and best hope for the future of the Big Ten. With so many coaches having deep ties to the region, perhaps the league can bring some of them back home. It sure worked for Ohio State when native son Urban Meyer became available. Penn State scooped up self-described "Pennsylvania boy" Franklin. Both were considered stars in the SEC.

"If you’re not competing for great coaching talent, it’s going to be very hard to win the Big Ten title, it’s going to be very hard to appear in Rose Bowls, and it’s going to be very hard to compete for national championships," Brandon said.

Big Ten teams can do all of those things by first making sure they clot the Midwest brain drain.

Mark Emmert made it clear Monday that the heavy sanctions handed down came from the NCAA, not Penn State. The school didn't offer any self-imposed penalties, the NCAA president said.

Although Emmert and others praised Penn State's transparency and cooperation in fast-tracking Monday's decision, the NCAA would have gone forward with or without Penn State's blessing. Penn State signed a consent decree and won't appeal the sanctions, and some wondered whether the school, despite its weakened position, gave in too easily.

Well, here's your answer.

From the Centre Daily Times:
Penn State president Rodney Erickson revealed that the university accepted the severe NCAA sanctions announced today to avoid the death penalty for the football program.
In an interview with the Centre Daily Times, Erickson said, "We had our backs to the wall on this. We did what we thought was necessary to save the program."
Joined by board of trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz and interim director of athletics David Joyner, Erickson said he signed the NCAA agreement because no better deal was available.
He said Penn State could have faced at least one year without football and still would have endured additional penalties.

Emmert and Oregon State president Ed Ray, chair of the NCAA's executive committee, both said the "death penalty" wouldn't have been the only punishment handed down.

How do Erickson's comments impact your view of Penn State's response? Although the NCAA penalties handed down will weaken Penn State's program, especially the scholarship reductions, the Nittany Lions still will play football this season and in future seasons.

A season without football in State College remains the most dramatic penalty Penn State could have received. That's the way Erickson saw it, and so he took the only deal he was offered.

PSU names search committee for coach

November, 28, 2011
Penn State announced Monday the search committee for its next head football coach.

Acting athletic director David Joyner will head the committee, which includes:
  • Linda Caldwell, Penn State faculty athletics representative
  • Charmelle Green, Penn State associate athletic director and senior woman administrator
  • Ira Lubert, Chairman and co-founder, Independence Capital Partners and Lubert Adler Partners
  • John Nichols, Emeritus Professor, Penn State College of Communications and Chair, Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Russ Rose, Head Coach, Penn State women's volleyball team

Here's a look at Lubert, a Penn State alum who, like Joyner, wrestled for the school and has served on the Board of Trustees. Here are the Penn State bios for Rose, who has had tremendous success with the volleyball program, as well as for Nichols, for Green and for Caldwell.

The committee will meet this week, according to a news release.

The new Penn State athletic director is hardly an outsider. David Joyner played football for Joe Paterno, and so did two of his sons. He has served on the school's Board of Trustees since 2000.

Still, Joyner said at his introductory news conference on Friday that he would do all he could to clean up the mess caused by the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

"No matter what they say about me being an insider, as you watch what I do and you watch how this university behaves, you will know and appreciate that I'm all about doing the right thing," he said.

Maybe the biggest item on Joyner's plate will be hiring a football coach. He said there is no timeline for doing so, but that he would be in charge of the hiring. That's interesting, because Joyner is only the acting athletic director right now, and it's unknown if or how long he'll continue in that role. How many football coaches will want to take on the Nittany Lions job given the current situation and also not knowing for sure who their immediate boss will be? Penn State has problems bigger than merely its football team, but with Rod Erickson named full-time president, doesn't it also make sense to hire a more permanent athletic director as well?

Joyner didn't make a lot of news in his press conference. He said he wasn't aware of the Sandusky scandal until he read about it in the media. He said he believes the Nittany Lions should participate in a bowl game. And he said there has been no talk at all about taking down the Paterno statue at Beaver Stadium.

Joyner called the athletic department "an academic unit" and promised to run it that way, with integrity and core values.

We'll see how long Joyner is actually in charge and what change he can bring about in his tenure. He has an impressive résumé and certainly understands the school and the culture of the athletic department. He needs to fix some of that culture, obviously, along with rebuilding trust and somehow keeping the football program in good shape. It's a monumental job for anyone, outsider or insider.

PSU names trustee Joyner as acting AD

November, 16, 2011
Penn State on Wednesday announced that David Joyner, a former Nittany Lions athlete who has served on the school's Board of Trustees since 2000, will take over as acting athletic director.

Joyner replaces Mark Sherburne, who moved into the AD role after Tim Curley, who is facing charges in the sex abuse scandal, asked to be placed on administrative leave. Sherburne has returned to his associate athletic director position. Joyner will suspend his membership with the Board as he moves into the new role.

Joyner is a health care and business consultant and an orthopedic physician who has worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee, serving as the lead physical for U.S. teams at the 1992 Winter Games and other events. He captained Penn State's football and wrestling teams and earned All-America honors in both sports in 1971. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

Here's more on Joyner's background.

Joyner seems like a good choice to take over the athletic department, at least temporarily, during a very difficult time. There could be a push with upcoming hires to completely disassociate Penn State from individuals who have connections to accused former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky or even recently fired head coach Joe Paterno, but now is not that time. Penn State simply needs leadership.

The school has no permanent president, athletic director or head football coach, but Joyner should play an important role in the coming weeks, particularly if Penn State conducts a coaching search in football.