Penn State Post-Season Staff and Team Changes
Howdy folks! My vacation was short, as I’ve been trying to keep up with what’s going on with the Nittany Lions, both in the coaching staff and pseudo-student athletes.
Shoop in Lateral Move to Tennessee
“The Shoop-Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” was a doo-wop girl group song by Betty Everett back in 1963. In the 2016 edition, it’s in Bob Shoop’s kiss-off, as the highly regarded Defensive Coordinator has accepted a lateral move as defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville for a relatively small increase in pay and benefits. Although it had been widely speculated that Shoop would seek a head coaching opportunity, his settling on a lateral move leads us to ask why.
The firing of John Donovan gave us a clue that James Franklin is bent on self-preservation and would cut loose a core member of the team he brought from Vanderbilt in a heartbeat to save his own ass. Methinks Franklin’s first loyalty is to himself. It is unlikely that he would have fired Shoop in the same manner, but the unknown here is whether Franklin’s move at offensive coordinator will solve enough problems to save Franklin’s own ass. My guess is that it won’t and that Franklin’s job will consequently be en prise, perhaps as soon as the end of 2016. In any case, I see the Franklin regime falling apart.
I think Shoop probably saw the handwriting of doom on the wall here. The coaching staff stability known and loved by Nittany Lions fans for a half-century drew to a close with the sacking of St. Joe in 2011. We certainly can no longer regard the Penn State coaching staff as a bastion of stability. Nope. Not by a long shot. Shoop’s departure potentially avoids the carnage later on when a new broom will sweep clean.
Shoop Funds Own Buyout
Shoop was also being pursued by Auburn, but after a crappy season, it might be close to curtains for the Gus Malzahn project there. Shoop declined to talk to Malzahn, who was willing to fly to State College to meet him. Butch Jones is looking like a safer bet, particularly after kicking the crap out of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. Shoop must think so, because he’s funding the buy-out of his Penn State contract himself. He sure as hell must have wanted badly to get out of Dodge!
Additionally, Shoop was facing the unknown at Penn State in terms of what talent would be available to put on the field in the fall. Aside from his defensive line, the defense was pretty run-of-the mill this past year, and he’d be losing three key members of that defensive line. ????? ???? ??? ????? Add to that the uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball and the tougher schedule in 2016, and you have a difficult time coming up with more than six wins. In fact, Kent State is the only sure win (and they were marginally the only worse team in third down conversions). Another six-win season and Franklin might be toast.
On the other hand, Shoop will be getting an experienced and intact front seven from last year. Tennessee kicked the crap out of Georgia, who kicked the crap out of Penn State. By football transitivity, Tennessee is likely to have a better season than Penn State, in a much tougher competitive situation. By mid-season, they will have played Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Alabama plus a couple of pussies, after which they will still have to play four conference opponents plus a pussy to conclude the season.
Moving to the SEC makes great sense for Shoop, in this turkey’s opinion. The SEC East is one helluva coaching credential for him. Do well in that situation and you can name your price, although first-year expectations for Shoop will no doubt be high. His predecessor was fired after averaging fewer points against than Shoop allowed at Penn State last year. In overall stats, Shoop’s defenses look marginally better. He should have some excellent talent to work with as he dons that ugly orange of Tennessee and listens to “Rocky Top” until he pukes, although Neyland Stadium ranks with Beaver Stadium as one of the best college football venues in the country.
Yeah, the sting of losing perhaps the best assistant coach we’ve seen since St. Joe was the Ripper’s assistant is painful, but I wish Bob Shoop well in Tennessee.
Pry Elevated to DC
Brent Pry, formerly co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Penn State, was named as the new defensive coordinator to replace Shoop. His prior experience at DC was at Georgia Southern in 2010. Pry has been with Franklin for the ensuing five years, first at Vandy and now PSU. ???? ????? ??? ???????? Time will tell whether Pry is the right guy for the job. Right now, who knows?
Tight end Adam Breneman has announced that his football career is over, citing recurring injuries. His good friend Christian Hackenberg’s departure prompted Breneman to walk off the field for his last time alongside Hack. His potential was great, but was never realized, and he will be remembered for sticking with the team even though his mentor Bill O’Brien bagged it for the NFL.
Geno Lewis Requests Transfer to Oklahoma
Following another Penn State transferee, Justin Brown, senior wide receiver Geno Lewis wants to be a Sooner (sooner than later). Lewis finished with career lows of 17 catches for 196 yards in 2015, possibly because Hack liked to throw to Chris Godwin a lot more. Geno will be pursuing his graduate studies at Oklahoma, where he has one remaining year of football eligibility. ???? ?????? Lewis’ farewell letter was gracious in thanking just about everybody for the opportunity he had at Penn State, concluding with “Penn State will always be in my heart and no one can ever take that away. WE ARE!!!!!”
Wonder what’s next?
Time to get ready for the big championship game tonight! If Clemson happens to win, this turkey stands to win a couple hundred smackeroos in a split pool, and that ain’t Purina Turkey Chow!
K. John says
Well, assuming Hand to Auburn is a done deal, State has two openings to fill. X and O wise, Hand really doesn’t fit with Coach Joe’s offensive philosophy in its most recent iteration. A quick look through Hand’s history and two things pop out. 1. he was Rich Rodriquez’s defensive coordinator at Glenville State. Not offense, defense. 2. Every stop since switching to offense has almost exclusively used some manner of zone blocking, which has been the biggest problem at State the last two years, not talent. Round peg, square hole.Talent is down the list a bit farther. Joe Moorhead uses a man gap hybrid. Presumably, Hand is ill-equipped to coach and develop talent in such a scheme. Meanwhile, Moorhead’s former O-line coach is highly thought of. My guess is he shows up sooner rather than later.
Shoop is the bigger one and should raise some questions as to what is going on. Successful coaches don’t take comparable positions at lesser programs every day, for the same or less money no less (assuming Boosters aren’t paying the buyout). And yes, Tennessee is a lesser program than Penn State, historically and contemporary. Then again, for all we know, Brent Pry could be the master mind to the defense. Regardless, a position on the coaching staff is open. Maybe they will hire a primarily special teams coach. Wouldn’t that be awesome.
The Nittany Turkey says
At one time I might have agreed with you that Penn State was the better job (i.e., not “the lesser program”); however, given the sanctions, some dumb recruiting moves by several regimes, and Franklin’s lack of success given the talent that he had, albeit thin, Penn State is not the primo destination for coaches that it once was. At this point, I have to sympathize with Shoop and Hand, getting out while the getting’s good, before the program and Franklin dragged them down with them. These guys aren’t stupid. They had good reasons for leaving. They’re not earning big bucks because they’re stupid. They want security and stability for their families. Apparently, they sensed that those components of a happy life would not exist if they stayed on at Penn State. We might not ever know all of it.
Franklin no sooner said that he didn’t want any of his coaches leaving for lateral moves than two of them did just that. Jimmy-boy just ain’t getting no respect!
Hack’s departure on his own terms, rather than Franklin’s, does not speak well of an “elite program.” That he didn’t thank Franklin is mute testimony to the discord that must have been extant between them.
Add to this the negative sentiment in State College toward Franklin, and you have the makings of an undesirable situation for assistant coaches — and maybe players. We’ll need to see what happens on National Signing Day, on February 3, but I’m guessing that PSU will be out-recruited and have to settle for less than the cream of the crop.
Tennessee is a lot closer to being competitive for a national title than is Penn State. So is Auburn. Why, then, are they the lesser programs? When was the last time Penn State actually was a contender for the national title? 1995? It’s not going to happen again anytime soon. And while their all-time records are similar, the Vols have been invited to more bowl games over time. The pernicious effect of the sanctions, plus lots of other factors at play now suggests to me that Penn State will be middle-of-the-pack Big Ten for the next few years at least, and I don’t care whether it’s McSorley, Stevens, or Zembiac at QB. The supporting cast will not be strong enough. Meanwhile, Tennessee will compete with Florida, Georgia, and Auburn, and they’ll likely win the East Division at least once within the next few years.
If you want to blame Donovan for all the team’s woes, then fine. He’s gone, so they’ll be 11-1 next year, right? If not, you’ll no doubt blame it on officiating bias against Penn State. As for me, I’m thinking it’ll take a lot more than a Joe Moorhead hiring to put the offense on a course toward non-mediocrity.
I’m hearing that there is dissent in the Penn State locker room. Franklin seems to be skating on thin ice. There are rumors of his family being ostracized at events in State College. Now, I ask you, if you were a real assistant coach (not a fake one on message boards), would you not want to opt for a situation in the throes of a little less upheaval for you and your family? Penn State fans just don’t tolerate 7-6 seasons back-to-back all that well, and next year it looks like the bottom is going to be falling out. So, why not bag it and head for glory to avoid having your reputation besmirched by another year of being associated with a barely winning program?
Never mind, that’s a rhetorical question. You’d blame it on the officials or the other guys cheating.
We can be delusional for just so long before reality sets in.
Tabula rasa now! We can hope for 12-0 in 2016! All RIGHT!