Mike Munchak is flattered that his alma mater has him on its coaching wish list.
But for the third time since the job came open after the firing of Joe Paterno, Munchak has said he is staying put as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
“You all know Penn State means a lot to me. I obviously went to school there and I'm real concerned for what they've gone through the last couple of months. I'm flattered that people think I'd be a great fit for the coach there,” Munchak said. “They have not contacted me in any way or talked to me about the possibility of working there. I have not reached out to them. I have a job that I enjoy quite a bit.”
Reports emerged out of Pennsylvania that Munchak was atop Penn State's list of candidates to pursue, and one report even indicated that it was a done deal. But Munchak, who is in his first season as the Titans head coach, says he is content to stay put in Nashville with the Titans, who are 8-7 and have playoff life entering the regular-season's final week.
“I'm sure they're going to find themselves a great coach and if I can help them in any way to do that, obviously I would do that,” Munchak said. “I'd love to stay involved with Penn State some way, but I'm very involved with the Titans and I love what I'm doing.”
Munchak first denied any interest in replacing Paterno, who was fired after 46 years in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, on Nov. 9, the very day Paterno was let go. When reports emerged about a month ago with his name in the mix again, he reiterated that he was staying put.
And on Wednesday, he made it clear that he is not heading back to Happy Valley to coach. Munchak said the closest he allowed himself to get to the Penn State coaching situation was simply playing out the “what-if” scenario in his head and in talking to his family.
“I think that's something that when things happen, you always think of the what-if, what would that be like, going to college (coaching) or moving back to Pennsylvania, and I think that's when we realized how much we don't like the winters and how hard that would be moving back with the snow and how we do like Nashville quite a bit more,” Munchak said. “You think about it and how it would be fun to be a part of something. I feel like I grew up there, but that's kind of where it stops. I'm happy with what I'm doing and the opportunity I've been given here has been awesome.”
Munchak says his focus is on this week and the Titans needing to win in Houston and have other scenarios play out to allow them to sneak into the playoffs.
“That's what I'm really thinking about and excited about. It's unfortunate that it came up this week because I don't want the focus taken away from what we're trying to do as a team here,” Munchak said.
Titans players were happy to hear that the rumor had been refuted as well.
“Honestly, my heart was kind of beating this morning when I saw that go across the ticker on the bottom of the screen, because you don't know what's going on,” receiver Nate Washington said. “But he's not a guy that gets caught up in that sort of thing. He's very happy where he's at and I'm very proud of Coach Munchak and very happy with the leadership he has given us throughout the year.”