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Dan Mullen Top Penn State Coaching Candidate, According To Report

The most intriguing college football vacancy in the country: the Penn St. Nittany Lions head coaching job. How do you replace Joe Paterno? Almost all of the supposed candidates for the job have been entirely speculative, but ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting Mississippi St. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen has emerged as the favorite.

Mullen's time in the SEC might make him seem like an outsider, but most of his coaching experience comes from Penn State's general vicinity. Mullen, age 39, coached in the Northeast and Midwest before following Urban Meyer from Bowling Green to Utah and then to Florida. He's also a Pennsylvania native whose wife is from Pittsburgh and whose father graduated from Penn State.

Whoever takes the PSU job will have the greatest mess in college sports history to help clean up, but also an enormous set of resources to put toward on-field success. Pairing Mullen in the same conference as new Ohio St. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer would also probably make for a storyline or two.

For more on the Nittany Lions, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries and SB Nation Pittsburgh, and here's our 2011 Coaching Carousel Tracker.