In the same year that conference-rival Ohio State moved on from embattled head coach Jim Tressel, Penn State are now faced with life without legendary head coach Joe Paterno.

This is nowhere near the way Paterno, who has been with the program for 61 years, wanted to leave the Nittany Lions. The avuncular Pennsylvania figure was expected to have a graceful retirement, while being showered with praise and respect.

Paterno, 84, has instead spent the past several days in controversy after news surfaced that he failed to properly handle a reported sexual abuse act by former long-time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Paterno had directed a graduate assistant, who may have witnessed an assault by Sandusky in the football building's showers, to the athletic director as opposed to alerting the authorities.

Earlier this month, Sandusky, 67, was arrested for 40 counts of sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. Athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, were charged with perjury and failing to report to police what they knew of the allegations.  

As Paterno walks the sideline of Beaver Stadium as head coach for the last time on Saturday against Nebraska, and with a dark cloud over his legacy, the search for a new permanent head coach is set to begin.

Penn State has likely been conscious of football without JoePa for quite sometime, but were never active in seeking to replace him due to his high standing with the school and his reluctance to retire.

The time to search for a new coach is finally here, though the Nittany Lions are in a difficult situation as the school is without a permanent athletic director.

The next head coach will have to have a very clean image, and will likely have a whole new set of assistants. Tressel would probably have garnered consideration prior to this scandal, but now there is no chance of that happening due to the controversies that surrounded him in his final season with the Buckeyes.

Current Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, who served as a Penn State assistant in the 1990s, was once considered a potential Paterno successor, but he seems to be a long-shot to accept the position in the program's current state.

More than likely, Paterno's replacement will be an upstart head coach who is currently serving as an assistant. Penn State's best bet might be to take the same route as Florida, who hired 40-year-old Will Muschamp, a long-time assistant who most recently had worked at Texas, to replace successful coach Urban Meyer.

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables is 40, and many believe he could make a move in the offseason to become a head coach of an elite program. He has no ties to Pennsylvania, but is considered by some as the best assistant coach in college football, and could provide a fresh start for Penn State.

Other names that may surface in the coming weeks include 36-year-old Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, long-time West Virginia assistant Jeff Casteel, and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

Pittsburgh-native and current Rutgers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. is another possibility. Cignetti is 46, has several years of coaching experience as an assistant, and served as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator.