Mike Munchak knows how to connect the dots.
The Tennessee Titans coach, therefore, understands how it came to be — again — that his name was linked to Penn State’s search for someone to replace Joe Paterno, who was fired last month in the wake of a scandal involving long-time assistant coach Jerry Sanducky.
He contended though, that any notion that he has agreed, or would agree, to take that job is far-fetched.
“My name being linked to Penn State is obvious,” Munchak said. “Heck, I went to Penn State. I’m a coach. I’ve been coaching a long time. … I just never thought it would catch on the way it has the last couple days.
“I’m flattered that people think that I would be a good fit for that university, but I’m sure they’re going to find themselves a great coach. If I can help in away way I would do that, and I would love to stay involved with Penn State in some way, but I’m coaching with the Titans and I love what I’m doing.”
Munchak has one game remaining in his first season as head coach of the Titans. Tennessee (8-7) faces Houston (10-5) on Sunday (noon, CBS) with a possible playoff berth at stake.
He has been a member of the organization, formerly the Houston Oilers, as a player, assistant coach and head coach for the last three decades.
A Pennsylvania newspaper reported that the university search committee in charge of hiring a coach settled on Munchak as its top choice.
“Obviously, Penn State means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s obvious I went to school there. I’m real concerned about what they’ve gone through over the last couple of months. I’m flattered that people think I would be a great fit for the coach there. They have not contacted me in any way or talked to me about any possibility of working there. I have not reached out to them in any way.
“I have a job I enjoy quite a bit. That’s kind of where it’s at.”
Paterno’s record-setting career ended abruptly in early November after charges of child sex abuse against Sandusky became public.
This is the third time since then that Munchak publicly has denied any interest in the position.
“People like to speculate on possibilities,” he said. “For people to assume that I’d be a great fit there, that’s flattering. It’s not something that’s going to happen right now for me.”
Munchak is the first Penn State player under Paterno to later become an NFL head coach. He graduated in May 1982, one month after he was the first offensive lineman and eighth player overall selected in the NFL draft.
He admitted, he discussed the matter briefly with his family when reports first surfaced that the university might be interested in him but said the idea quickly was dismissed.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for someone to come in there,” he said. “That’s a great program. I don’t believe it’s a program that’s going to suffer long as far as on the football field. There’s healing involved when something like this happens to the university itself, but as far as the football program goes, that’s a great program, has a great tradition I don’t think it will be the struggle people think it may be.
“When things happen, you always think about ‘what if.’ … I’m happy with what we’re doing. The opportunity … here has been awesome. Hopefully we’ll finish up with a win this weekend and give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs. That’s what I’m really thinking about, excited about. It’s unfortunate this came up this week because, obviously, I don’t want the focus taken away from what we’re doing here.”