Penn State may still be without a replacement for fired coach Joe Paterno by the time the Nittany Lions play in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2

The six-person search committee is taking a "very deliberate and measured approach to the process in order to identify the coach that best fits the requirements of the position," acting athletic director Dave Joyner said Thursday in a written statement.

School president Rodney Erickson and Joyner had both said they hoped to have a new coach before No. 24 Penn State's bowl game.

But Thursday, Joyner said a new coach would be introduced "at the appropriate time," and the statement offered no specific timeline.

Erickson was out of town Thursday for the holidays. Spokesman Bill Mahon said Joyner was providing Erickson with regular updates.

"I think they have both emphasized the most important element here is to get the right coach, not speed up the timing of the search," Mahon said. "There is no update on possible timing."

Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has been running the program on an interim basis since school trustees fired Paterno on Nov. 9 in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno is not a target of an investigation into the Sandusky case by the state attorney general's office, though he was dismissed amid mounting criticism that school leaders should have done more to prevent alleged abuse. Sandusky, who has maintained his innocence, is awaiting trial.

Making a good hire, and soon, is generally seen as a critical step to secure the future of Penn State's storied football program. A couple of recruits have already revoked their verbal commitments to the school in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.

Erickson said earlier this month one of the top criteria in the coaching search is "how that person would fit into the value system of Penn State, which clearly has to be honesty, integrity and commitment to excellence in academics."

According to Joyner, the school "is continuing to talk with individuals that we're interested in and work through the interview process." He called it a "very important hire for Penn State."

Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are among those who have been interviewed.

Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements was scheduled to have a phone interview last week, USA Today has reported. At Packers practice Thursday, Clements declined comment on whether he was interested in the job and would not confirm if he had interviewed for it.

Nebraska's Bo Pelini also emerged this week on the seemingly endless rumored list of potential college-level prospects. Pelini after practice Tuesday called the reports irresponsible and untrue, and said he had not interviewed at Penn State.

As for the Nittany Lions, players have gone home for the holidays. They are scheduled to regroup Monday in Dallas to prepare for the bowl game against No. 20 Houston.


Sports Writer Chris Jenkins in Green Bay, Wis., contributed to this report.