No living coach can relate to what Joe Paterno's successor at Penn State will experience better than Ray Perkins.
He found himself in that exact situation at Alabama in 1983, when he followed the legendary Bear Bryant. And when talking to Perkins about it, using the word replaced is not allowed.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no," Perkins said. "I did not replace anybody. I just merely followed the man, and it was a great honor for me to do that.
Ray Perkins does not like it when people say he replaced Bear Bryant, preferring instead to say he followed the coaching legend.
"There's no one can replace Coach Bryant. And there's no one can replace Joe Paterno. There's going to be somebody to follow him someday [as] I merely followed Coach Bryant."
The overwhelming assumption is that whoever follows Paterno will face incredible external pressure and be under great scrutiny.
Perkins doesn't agree with that, based on his experience succeeding Bryant in 1983.
"As far as seeing pressure from the fans and all that, I can honestly say I never felt it one time," Perkins said before adding, "We were welcomed in very fine fashion."
The media is much different now than 27 years ago, but again, Perkins doesn't see that as being a major issue for Penn State's next coach.
"The pressure factor from a media standpoint, I don't think is a big factor from a coaching standpoint because the coach is going to put so much pressure on himself and to work at his job," he said. "I don't think anybody else understands the pressure that coaches do put on themselves.
"Every coach puts enough pressure on himself without feeling pressure from other sources," he added. "I think we all want to win and want to win with just about everything in us."
Perkins went 8-4 his first season at Alabama in 1983, then 5-6 the following year. It was a tough season -- and one that could have brought about pressure -- but he says the players and coaches were doing everything the right way so that the program could return to its successful ways.
That happened in 1985 and '86, when Perkins led the Crimson Tide to records of 9-2-1 and 10-3.
"We went in and tried to do the best job that we could possibly do," Perkins said. "I didn't go in looking over my shoulder or anything like that."
His deep roots to the Alabama program allowed him to think like that. Perkins played for Bryant from 1964-66 and, led by quarterback Joe Namath, was on two national championship teams.
"It was a great thrill for me because it's my alma mater, it's where I went to school, it's where I played ball," Perkins said of coaching the Tide. "So it was very special in a lot of ways, but most importantly following Coach Bryant."
And whoever follows Paterno at Penn State?
"He'll be highly successful ... and I really feel Penn State will continue to be great," Perkins said.
He has an idea who could get the PSU job, but he won't talk about it publicly. All he will say is ...
"I kind of think it'll be somebody that they know already," he said. "Or it might be somebody that has worked there in the past and gone on to have some success somewhere else. ... It'll probably be somebody that's on the East coast already. That's just my thought.
"Behind closed doors, of course, they've already talked about and passed around a few names, I'm sure," he added.
Paterno's successor will be a "low-key guy" and one of "high integrity," Perkins believes.
"They've got kind of a blueprint there that the next guy is not going to go against," he said. "He'd be crazy to. And I don't think they'll skip a beat."
Perkins, who left Alabama after the 1986 season to take over as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, doesn't regret the decision.
"I'm very fortunate to have had the opportunity at Alabama," he said. "And I'm very happy to have been there for four years, and I have nothing but fond memories -- as a player and as a coach."
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.