GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn’t know anything about Tom Clements interviewing for the vacant Penn State head coaching position Friday over the phone, and there was good reason for that: According to an NFL source, Clements did not in fact interview for the position, as USA Today reported earlier in the day.
A Pennsylvania native, Clements submitted his resume to Penn State earlier this month, and USA Today’s Jon Saraceno called him “a leading candidate” to replace the departed Joe Paterno in a story that said Clements would interview Friday.
But the source said that Clements was not interviewed, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen spoke to what he called “a source close to Clements” who said the same thing. “There is no telephone interview or conversation that is scheduled between Tom and Penn State, there never has been one scheduled, nor is there anything scheduled in the foreseeable future,” the source told Mortensen.
That would explain why McCarthy, when asked about the USA Today report after practice Friday, said he was unaware of any interview. It’s inconceivable that Clements would interview with Penn State without telling McCarthy first.
“I’m not aware of any interview to take place today. As far as if Tom was a candidate, I think he would be an outstanding candidate,” McCarthy said. “I do not know what Penn State’s plans are. I’ve had zero communication with anybody from Penn State.”
Clements declined to talk about his interest in the job when asked about it last week. Offensive coaches are available to reporters only on Thursdays, so Clements was not available to reporters Friday.
McCarthy, who is also a Pennsylvania native, said Clements would have not only his support, but his brothers and sisters, too.
“How do I feel? I feel it’s a great opportunity. I think Penn State University is a great opportunity. I think Tom would be an outstanding candidate,” McCarthy said. “I have three siblings that graduated from Penn State, so he would have the McCarthy vote as far as him being the next head coach there.
“The process of individuals being hired this time of year, I think the college administrators and the National Football League have been very practical and respectful of each other’s schedule. So I’m not concerned as far as the timing of it, if that’s what you’re asking me.”
The last time McCarthy lost a coach to a college job, it was offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, who was hired by Boston College on Dec. 20, 2006, with two games left in the regular season. Jagodzinski was introduced in Boston on Dec. 20, coached against Minnesota the following night and then finished out the season before departing. McCarthy said in Jagozinski’s case, Boston College representatives came to Green Bay and interviewed him in person.
“Everybody’s a competitor, but these opportunities are few and far between. I think anytime you someone you have great professional respect for and you care about on a personnel level, you are excited,” McCarthy said of Clements, whose contract prohibited him from interviewing for the vacant Chicago Bears offensive coordinator job a couple years ago. “Would I prefer one of our assistants to not go down the street in the division? Yes, definitely. That’s not ideal. But I’d be excited for him (to go to Penn State).”
When news of Clements’ candidacy broke last week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers wholeheartedly endorsed him, saying:
“That would be a difficult situation, I think, if you look at the landscape of college football as it unfolds in the next month or so, with the bowl season finishing up. There for sure is going to be some openings. I’m not convinced that’s going to be at the top of many people’s list of places to go. It’s a difficult situation, obviously. You’re going to have to make some changes, but I can tell you what, Tom Clements is a man of integrity, discipline, hard work, sticks to his guns. He’s a moral man, he’s an incredible coach, great teacher, understands the game, has played the game at a high level at the CFL for 13 years, has almost 40,000 yards passing, has won the Grey Cup a couple of times. His record as a player speaks for itself, more than he ever will. It speaks to the kind of guy he is. Great college player, won a national championship.
“He has the pedigree, and he understands how to relate to guys. I have a great relationship, would hate to see him go, but I’ve really enjoyed my time with Tom, and consider him a very close friend, but also someone who I don’t ever want to let down on game-day. We have a great relationship as friends, but also as player-to-coach. I think if anyone could go into that situation and handle it with dignity and class, it would be Tom Clements.”
Backup Matt Flynn had similar thoughts Friday.
“He hasn’t talked to us about it, but we’ve kind of heard rumors and things like that,” Flynn said. “If it’s something that he wants and something that he would like to do, it would be a great opportunity. He definitely has the credentials; he has the background for it, as both a player and a coach. He’s very knowledgeable and very intelligent when it comes to the game of football. He knows the ins and outs of defenses and offenses. I think if he wants it he definitely deserves it and has proven that he’s a good coach.
“I’ve learned a lot from him. I’ve learned a lot about the game. I wouldn’t be the player today if he wasn’t in my corner for the last four years.”
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