Go ahead. Make my day.

Sudden Impact: Layin’ Low

by Ben Goldfarb on January 24, 2014

in Penn State Football

The high drama of replacing a hastily departing head football coach at Penn State has concluded with the hire of James Franklin for about $4.5 million per year plus or minus. So, with the winter doldrums upon us, here is a potpourri of articles that will serve to avert bore-dum.

We start with Franklin’s announcement of his full staff, which most of you probably know of by now. Here at the Turkey, we believe in not going off half-cocked, so we wait for official announcements before jumping to any half-assed conclusions. This is also known as laziness and procrastination. So, without further ado, here is the official announcement.

If you’re too lazy to click that link, here is the rundown:

James Franklin, head coach;
- Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator/safeties coach;
- John Donovan, offensive coordinator/tight ends coach;
- Charles Huff, special teams coordinator/running backs coach;
- Brent Pry, assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach;
- Josh Gattis, offensive recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach;
- Herb Hand, run game coordinator/offensive line coach;
- Ricky Rahne, passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach;
- Terry Smith, defensive recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach;
- Sean Spencer, defensive line coach.

WTF. I don’t see Vanderlinden or Bradley in there anywhere? And where’s McQueary?

Seven of these guys were on Franklin’s staff at Vandy.

Franklin also announced that Dwight Galt has been named Director of Performance Enhancement and will supervise the Nittany Lions’ strength and conditioning regimen. Barry Gant, Jr. and Chuck Losey, former members of the Vanderbilt staff, have been named assistant strength and conditioning coaches. Brian Bell and Galt’s son, Dwight Galt IV, will continue in their roles as assistant strength and conditioning coaches, having joined the Penn State staff in 2012.

Several of the coaches have Pennsylvania connections.

******

At the risk of beating a dead horse, Bill O’Brien’s departure still has some people scratching their heads and some others pointing fingers. The famous “Paterno People” interview by David Jones revealed that O’Brien was conflicted about some issues within the administration and athletic programs at Penn State.

John U. Bacon, author of the college football exposé Fourth and Long, opines on reasons in his article “Penn State’s Administrative Dysfunction Pushed Coach Bill O’Brien Back to NFL.”

Bacon blames much of O’Brien’s discontent on the BoT and Dave Joyner. He even touches on the botched president hiring in November 2013.

******

Another favorite topic around here is the NCAA. Any proposals regarding restructuring it are certainly welcome. And thus, it was that when reader Joe turned up some evidence of a current proposal, I took notice. If you read it with a jaundiced I (as I did), you’ll see it as a bunch of rebureaucratizing gobbledygook, but perhaps you can cut through the crap better than I. Perhaps you can find redemption somewhere.

Joe sent me a link to an article called “NCAA Proposal Focused on Short-Term Repair, Not Long-Term Improvement“, which presents its anonymous author’s opinions on the proposal.

******

Last, and probably least, we whisk you away to the fantasy land of Hollywood. The film “Happy Valley”, a documentary by Amir Bar-Lev about the happenings at Penn State during and after the Sandusky Scandal, has been presented at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Bar-Lev about the making of the film and his interpretation of the events of the time.

******

We’ll be back sporadically during the off-season when we have something to say about anything.

Joe January 24, 2014 at 4:03 pm

The staff as a whole looks solid, but I’m sure by the end of September, early October there will be some within Nittany Nation (I’m thinking of you BSD) that will be calling for someone to be fired. How long did it take for the pitchforks to be brandished for Ted Roof?

As I mentioned to you earlier, I would have liked to see some guys from the non-Vanderbilt world, but this is who he has a “chicken soup” comfort level with, so I’m okay with his “bringing the old staff along” approach. After all OB only brought those folks that he knew would be good lieutenants (okay, okay LJ & Vandy were most likely shoved down his throat) and he got praise and hallelujahs for taking that approach when he came to PS.

Getting Galt the 3rd to come along as S&C coach is probably a bigger deal than most people realize. It also looks like he kept all of the former assistants, including his Galt the 4th.

So the only thing that caused me to go hmmmh is this:

Herb Hand, RUN GAME COORDINATOR/offensive line coach:
Ricky Rahne, PASSING GAME COORDINATOR/quarterbacks coach

I pray to the man upstairs that this isn’t going back to Galen Hall/Jay Paterno days when they had to do a rock-paper-scissors to get a play to the sideline and perhaps it only has something to do with game planning. But in my book, that’s what the hell the OC is supposed to do. So maybe Dave Jones will ask that question!

Couple of other things you mentioned if I may.

I wonder where Bacon got his information for the article about OB and the administration? Seems like not a lot of sources mentioned other than the OB’s. His speculation, also seems tainted a wee bit by his previous impressions of Joyner. Seemed like I was reading a Dave Jones story. But Bacon is a guy to me that just won’t let this story go. Wonder if he has a PS4RS card?

Yeah, I got the same impression from the NCAA governance article-pure bureaucratic bullshit to go along with that powerpoint presentation. Essentially I think it means the big boys in Div 1 are going to get some form of autonomy and will be able to do what they want without having to convince their lesser (re financial) brethren in Div 1 that it’s worthwhile. I also think the NCAA threw out all the “maintaining the sanctity of the education” verbage of college athletics, because they know damn well that amateurism has been gone for awhile and isn’t coming back. It also means it’s easier to control the educational side (GPA, GSR, etc) than the other unless you’re a student athlete at UNC!

So now we wait for NLI day on February 5th. Are you going to “The Signature Event”? I think I know the answer.

The Nittany Turkey January 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I’m laughing my ass off here because you came to a similar initial conclusion to mine about the “run game coordinator” and “passing game coordinator”. I immediately thought of the Galen/Jay 45-second play calling relayed to McQueary, who would wig-wag the thing into the huddle and take shit from St. Joe if they screwed up. I’m thinking this is going to be the Three Stooges all over again, but no, nobody could duplicate that clusterf*ck.

Perhaps J-Frank believes in an anal retentive organizational hierarchy in which there is a place for everything and everything has a place. In that case, having Hand and Rahne report to Donovan, who in turn reports to Franklin, makes some sense, assuming that it is Donovan who calls the plays on the sidelines. If you want to get military about it, the offensive position coaches involved in the running and passing games are lieutenants who report to Captains Hand and Rahne, respectively, who in turn reports to Major Donovan, who reports to Colonel Franklin. Sounds good in theory, but tight organizational frameworks often lead to back channels and shadow organizations. Time will tell. (I just said nothing.)

I would question Bacon’s sources, too, were it not for my belief all along that the events unfolded approximately as Bacon represented. I didn’t think O’Brien was “driven away” but I think the climate within the BoT helped him along in making his decision once a juicy offer was on the table. Nothing new in there about the BoT, but there were revelations about the extent of Joyner’s negative effect on O-B. It is hard for me to form an opinion about Joyner, given all the noise that has been made and the lack of an effective filter for same. At some point I have to believe what I read — in this game, that can be 180 degrees out of phase with reality.

I’m just not buying that the NCAA can reorganize its problems away as long as the myth of the amateur student-athlete persists. If the whole thing is based on a well known lie, how can anyone respect its authority?

I will not be present at signing day ceremonies. Hell, if I had my way, this whole notion of recruiting would go away and everybody would be a walk-on. (I’m damn glad we don’t have to say “run-on” anymore — that term should only be used to describe the grammatically abominable sentence of the same name, but I digress.) Once they sign these guys, I suppose I’ll take an interest in them, but since I have no influence over who comes to PSU or not, why the hell should I spin my wheels at this point? I’m just an interested observer who will believe nothing until signatures are on paper and seals affixed thereto.

I’m particularly full of shit today.

—TNT

Joe January 24, 2014 at 7:58 pm

So now we wait. I went back and re-read the bios of the staff, listened to CJF and even Flounders and Snyder’s recap and I guess everyone has a crush on the new coaching staff.

The words are all good and they’re what everyone wants to hear on January 24th. But to me, the proof will be what the record is at the end of the season. I’m thinking it’s got to be at least 8-4 or better to keep the crazies from going ape shit.

Bigger questions for me with the Vandy-North staff are:

-Can they take Hackenburg’s performance to the next level, or is the kid going to have to learn a whole new system? I’m smelling some regression here.

-Can they find some receivers to replace “Gimme the Damn Ball’s” stats?

-Will the TE’s have as non-productive a season as they had last year?

-Can they light a fire under Donovan Smith’s and Deion Barnes’ collective asses?

-Will the secondary be as porous as a sieve like last year?

-Will we really get productivity out of the special teams for the first time in God knows how many seasons?

So right now we’re all enchanted by the siren’s song, but I think I’m going to put some wax in my ears and see what the first half of the season brings before I start celebrating all of our future B1G and National Championships.

K. John January 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

To answer a few of your quesitons, or at least provided a comment.

- I can see improvement by subtraction at the receiver position. By most accounts, Hackenberg had more of the offense at his disposal by mid-season than McGloin had at the end. That is a lot to take in. My guess is due to injury at tight end, he checked to ARob knowing he could get the ball whether he was open or not.

- I think the tight ends will have a much larger roll in the offense. I fully expect Franklin to go with a two tight end set. He seems to be a pragmatic guy and that is what the talent says he should run. The lack of production during the first half was entirely due to injury. Kyle Carter got hurt in the opener and was banged up much of the year. Wilkerson was his primary backup and didn’t play a down. Brenneman was not ready to contribute early but turned it on late. Matt Lehman was supposed to be the starter at the other spot was was lost in the opener and James wasn’t ready to play full time. I think they position might explode this year with Kyle Carter taking the lead more as a receiver than tight end.

- In my opinion, I don’t think Smith responded well to O’Brien rotating players trying to figure how plays where. Gilliam played lots of left and right tackle and the play at both spots suffered. Barne’s is interesting. Lost on most people was the fact that he played a large number of snaps on the opposite side of the line as he did the previous year. His numbers weren’t great but he regularly beat his man while playing his appropriate position. We shall see. The talent on hand says they will run a 3-4 this year and with a complete lack of dominant tackles in the Big Ten, could really go off if he doesn’t get beat outright by Bars or Oniliyan.

- The secondary really started to come on late in the year once Amos was moved back to corner. Lucas stepped up his game during the second half. Williams started coming on as the third corner and Davis played well at the fourth. Keiser is limited at safety and they lose Obeng and Willis. We will see what happens there. With Dennard and Roby off to the NFL, I don’t there are a pair of starting corners in the Big Ten better than Lucas and Amos should they both play corner.

- Keep dreaming. Special teams are an issue and will be until the unit has a dedicated coach and there isn’t one on this staff.

Joe January 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I disagree that Hack had more of the playbook than McGloin. OB obviously did not let Hack audible from the line of scrimmage at all during the early part of the year and very little at the end; McGloin buttered his bread on changing plays at the LoS. Hack had only one or two reads on each play pretty much during the season for his progressions. In most offenses, the TE is a third or fourth receiver on passing plays. McMoxie was able to go through the entire progression and get the TE’s involved. I think a lot was the difference between a 5th year Sr and a guy that only started applying the playbook in August. Granted the TE’s couldn’t catch a cold last year and the loss of Lehman hurt more than I thought it would, but I think OB kept the playbook simple for Hack for most of the year. Also, take away some of the circus catches “Gimme the Damn Ball” made and the results in some of those games might have been different. I said during the season he was going to bring Hack along slowly and not get the kid discouraged-essentialy a throw away year for the team while he brought him along.
I think the Wisconsin game showed what he could do with a whole season under his belt as the game had obviously slowed down for him and the Badgers choked like dogs in that game. I just think it’s going to take awhile fro him to get up to speed if the system changes that drastically from last year.

A 3-4?? Where are the LB’s going to come from? You need essentially DE’s to play OLB in a 3-4 and we don’t have ‘em! Do you move Barnes to OLB? No there isn’t enough depth at LB, nor are the right guys either on the team or hopefully signing in 2014 to move to a 3-4. Remember OB recruited for a 4-3 as did the old regime. You would have to start recruiting in 2015 to maybe be able to play a 3-4 in ’16 or ’17.

We’ll see about our CB’s, but I do remember Lucas staring at a receivers back of the jersey number from 5-10 yards away many times during the year. You may be right though, perhaps our former PS WR can coach up those CB’s to be the best in the B1G. Although this extract from an interview in the York Daily Record doesn’t leave me feeling as positive as you do right now.

“He will coach the same position that his stepson, Justin King, starred at for Penn State during the 2006 and 2007 seasons before a five-year career in the NFL.

“I call him every day now,” Smith said. “Like, ‘You’ve got to give me technique, you got to give me some terminology.’ We talk every day about the intricacies of the position.” ”

You will never have a dedicated coach for special teams at the collegiate level-only 9 assistant positions authorized, but according to Franklin, Huff will be the Special Teams Coordinator (in addition to coaching the RB’s), something we never had before.

This article from Penn Live gives his philosophy.

http://www.pennlive.com/pennstatefootball/index.ssf/2014/01/huffing_and_puffing_penn_state.html

So organizationally we do have a dedicated special teams coordinator. Yes, he will have other responsibilities and yes he will have help from other guys on the staff, but he will be the guy that pulls the whole show together. Will it work? I think we’ll know pretty well after a few games, but at least I like the approach he’s taking.

So until we see what happens during the B-W game and the first few weeks of the season, I’m taking a wait and see attitude.

K. John January 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm

First off, there are a couple of different ways to run a 3-4 defense, and the talent on hand is better suited to running a version similar to what the Niners of old ran or the 2000 to 2005 Pateriots ran than what they are currently doing.

Hull, Kline, Bell and several walk ons can play inside.

Wartman and Wooten can play inside or outside.

Barnes, Bars, Cothran, Oliniyan, and Schwan all have the right skill set to play outside linebacker.

Zettel, Sickels, Nassib, the other Cothran, Gaia, and Smith have the right skills to play end.

Johnson, Dowrey and Barney play tackle.

Not only do they have the players to play the 3-4, but they have a great distribution across the front seven which helps should the injury bug hit the linebackers again, and the injury situation was the biggest problem the team faced last year.

Joe January 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Okay coach, but it looks like a lot of first year guys getting thrown in to a new system and none of the guys you mention at tackle have the size to plug up the middle in a traditional 3-4! Shit we had trouble playing a 4-3 last year, but hey we’ll see.

K. John January 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Not every version of the 3-4 requires a space eating nose tackle. Look at the Niners during the Charles Haley years. The same goes for this year’s team. Technically, they run a 3-4 but it is more of a hybrid. Glen Dorsey plays nose tackle at 297 and he isn’t a true run stuffer either. More of a combo guy.

Joe January 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm

If you’re up for some reading, here’s the transcript of today’s meet the coaches.

http://bwi.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1601571

jd January 27, 2014 at 8:33 am

outstanding points above.

if we hear the term “spread HD”, i’m grabbing pitchforks and torches.

i…i just can’t go through that again.

Joe January 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Video of interview with Dwight Galt III.

http://pennstate.scout.com/2/1369165.html

The Commissioner February 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Dempsey Barron was President of the Florida Senate until his passing in 2001. Trevor Barron from Bethel Park, PA is an Olympic Race Walker who has trained here in Orlando. One Grover Barron used to promote boxing matches in the Coconut Grove Gym way back in the day.

There appears no connection among Eric, Trevor, or Grover to Dempsey. Very intriguing.

I’ve always wondered about any connection between Dempsey Barron and Jack Dempsey and/or Barron Hilton. You never know. Has there been the first Paterno Jones, yet?

The Nittany Turkey February 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Good to hear from you, Commish. I believe that a ToeJam visit might be in the offing soon, as he and the missus plan to attend the Thursday of Arnie’s Bay Hill Classic. There was talk of a possible lunch or dinner somewhere in your neighborhood.

I regret to inform you that all the Barron/Paterno connections are posted under the wrong article. Pity, for these were intriguing, Kevin Baconesque ramblings.

—TNT

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