DALLAS -- Penn State's search to replace fired coach Joe Paterno could be wrapped up in the next few weeks.
Acting athletic director David Joyner said Thursday that he'd like the next coach to have time to interact with recruits before high school seniors can announce their college choices starting Feb. 1.
A four-day contact period for coaches begins Wednesday -- two days after the Nittany Lions (No. 22 BCS, No. 24 AP) face Houston (No. 19 BCS, No. 20 AP) in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. Another 16-day contact window starts Jan. 13.
"I'd like to get this finished so that whoever the head coach is, be it (interim coach Tom) Bradley or somebody else, has enough time to really interact with recruits and to do the best they can do," Joyner said before a team dinner in Dallas.
"There's a three-week open period (before national signing day). That would be nice. I'm not going to let that dictate if there are a couple days one way or the other. But I think it would be very good for recruits."
But Joyner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Friday the school would not meet a self-imposed Jan. 3 deadline to announce a new coach.
"If we're close and can do something then, that would be great, but we're not," Joyner told the Tribune-Review.
Joyner said the search is down to a "handful of people," though interviews were not over. He also said the school was still being contacted by potential applicants. Joyner didn't name candidates, nor did he reveal how many have been interviewed.
"No, I have not made a final decision yet. I haven't chosen to do that because we're evaluating them and I'm still looking at candidates right now," Joyner said.
Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are among those who have had interviews.
Toward the beginning of its search, Penn State reached out to former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy to see if he had any interest in becoming Paterno's successor. Dungy, who is working for NBC as an analyst, declined the opportunity, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
"I'm flattered when people mention my name, but I'm really in the parent mode right now," Dungy told USA Today earlier this week.
Among other rumored names, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak on Wednesday denied for the third time that he was interested in the job at his alma mater.
"They have not contacted me in any way or talked to me about the possibility of working there," the first-year Titans coach said. "I have not reached out to them. I have a job that I enjoy quite a bit."
Also, Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements declined comment last week on whether he was interested in the job and would not confirm a report that he had interviewed.
Joyner and school president Rodney Erickson initially had indicated that they hoped to have Paterno's replacement selected by the bowl game.
Bradley took over Nov. 9 after Paterno was fired in the aftermath of child sex-abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno, who testified before a grand jury investigating Sandusky, is not a target of the probe, the state attorney general's office has said. Sandusky is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty.
Paterno had a Division I-record 409 victories in a head coaching career that began in 1966 -- 16 seasons after starting at Penn State as an assistant. He is recovering from a broken pelvis and also is being treated for lung cancer.
"We're being purposeful and deliberate," Joyner said. "This is the first coaching search with football that maybe we've ever done. I'm not sure how things worked in 1950 and 1966, but I imagine it was a lot different than we're doing now."
Also Thursday, backup quarterback Rob Bolden worked with the starters again, with first-stringer Matt McGloin still being held out of practice. McGloin hasn't taken the field since suffering a concussion and seizure Dec. 17 after a locker-room altercation with receiver Curtis Drake.
Bolden began the season sharing time with McGloin, but hasn't started since Oct. 15.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I can go out there and do what I need to do," Bolden said.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.