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Penn State Football: Tracking Down the 38 Coaches Since 2011

by on January 21, 2016 9:00 PM

Turnover on the Penn State football staff isn’t new.

At least over the past five seasons. And counting.

From the firing of head coach Joe Paterno nine games into the 2011 season, through the hiring this week of new co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks, Penn State has had 38 football coaches.

That’s figuring 11 coaches on a full staff – the head coach, nine full-time assistants and the head strength and conditioning coach (it was actually 12 in 2015, counting team consultant Jim Haslett).

In Penn State’s case, the 38 coaches over five seasons and 63 games breaks down this way: three head coaches, three head strength coaches, two assistants who became interim head coaches, and 30 different assistants.

The number also includes two interim assistants for the final four games of 2011 (Bill Kavanaugh and Elijah Robinson, who filled the staff after Paterno was let go and Mike McQueary was put on leave), as well as James Franklin’s three most recent hires – Banks, offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover.

Of course, Penn State has been an historically unique situation, with three full-time head coaches and essentially three clean sweeps of assistants in four seasons.

That’s not the new normal. That’s abnormal.

Just as abnormal were Penn State’s eight seasons from 2004 to 2011, when there was just one change in the core group of 11. One. That came in 2008, when Nittany Lion safeties coach Brian Norwood left for Baylor to become a defensive coordinator. And even at that, he was replaced as a FT assistant by Penn State grad assistant Kermit Buggs.

But also abnormal is what is currently going in East Lansing, Mich., under head coach Mark Dantonio.

Over the same time that Penn State has seen its group of three dozen plus two, the Spartans’ staff has had a total of 14 coaches. Only three assistants have left Dantonio’s staff over the past five seasons (2011-15), the most recent after the 2014 campaign, when MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi departed to become the head coach at Pitt.

It’s been less stable among the other elite teams in the Big Ten East, where both Ohio State and Michigan have undergone head coaching switches – and commensurate assistant coaching changes. Maybe not-so-coincidentally, both have had a total of 25 coaches – head, strength, assistants – since 2011.

At Ohio State, Urban Meyer replaced Luke Fickell in 2012 (although Fickell remained on the staff, along with Stan Drayton and the since-departed Mike Vrabel), and three seasons later won the national championship.

At Michigan, Jim Harbaugh replaced Brady Hoke in 2015, keeping just one assistant (Greg Mattison) from Hoke’s staff.

(At Penn State, Bill O’Brien retained two assistants when he came aboard in 2012, while Franklin kept zero in 2014.)

Looking south geographically and north in the college football polls, Alabama has had 21 different coaches over the past five seasons – with one spot left to fill for 2016. That may not be quite as many as some would have thought, given that the Tide has won three national titles in that time despite the perception that it is losing coordinators left and (Kirby) Smart.

A couple of interesting points about the staff changes at Penn State since 2011:

While over that time there have been four athletic directors, Penn State has had just one football video coordinator (Jevon Stone) and one coordinator of football academic support (Todd Kulka).

There have been seven different defensive coordinators, although the D-line and the linebacking coaching spots have been the most stable on the staff. Other than Robinson’s four-game stint as a defensive line assistant, over the past five years Penn State has had only two D-line coaches -- Larry Johnson Sr. (2011-13) and Sean Spencer (2014-16). And Linebacker U has had only two coaches over the past five seasons – Ron Vanderlinden (2011-13) and Brent Pry (2014-16).

The fallout of the scandal also contributes to this number as well: Five of the 38 have lawsuits pending against Penn State (and four of those five are no longer in coaching).

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

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Here’s a full rundown of where the 38 are now and where the departed have been since leaving Penn State (you’ll notice that while the size of the assistant coaching staff has remained constant under Franklin, job titles have gotten much longer):

DICK ANDERSON – Penn State offensive line (guards & centers), 2011. After Penn State – retired, State College; lawsuit against Penn State pending.

TIM BANKS – Penn State co-defensive coordinator & safeties, 2016.

TOM BRADLEY – Penn State cornerbacks and in charge of defense, 2011; Penn State interim head coach (4 games), 2011. After Penn State – TV analyst, CBS Sports, & radio analyst, Steelers Broadcast Radio Network, 2013; senior associate head coach, West Virginia, 2014; defensive coordinator, UCLA, 2015-16.

KERMIT BUGGS – Penn State safeties, 2011. After Penn State defensive coordinator, Lock Haven, 2012; running backs & special teams coordinator, UConn, 2013; assistant defensive coordinator & safeties, Old Dominion, 2014-16.

JOHN BUTLER – Penn State secondary, 2012; Penn State defensive coordinator & cornerbacks, 2013. After Penn State – secondary, Houston Texans, NFL, 2014-15.

JOHN DONOVAN – Penn State offensive coordinator & tight ends, 2014-15. After Penn State – relieved of duties on Nov. 29, 2015; no longer on staff.

CHARLIE FISHER – Penn State quarterbacks, 2012-13. After Penn State – associate head coach & wide receivers, Richmond, 2014; associate head coach, quarterbacks & offensive coordinator, 2015, Richmond; head coach, Western Illinois, 2016.

CRAIG FITZGERALD – Penn State strength & conditioning coach, 2012-13. After Penn State – head strength & conditioning coach, Houston Texans, NFL, 2014-15.

JAMES FRANKLIN – Penn State head coach, 2014-16.

DWIGHT GALT – Penn State assistant athletics director, performance enhancement, 2014-16.

JOSH GATTIS – Penn State wide receivers & offensive recruiting coordinator (assistant special teams coordinator, 2015), 2014-16.

GALEN HALL – Penn State running backs & in charge of defense, 2011. After Penn State – retired, Groveland, Florida; lawsuit against Penn State pending.

HERB HAND – Penn State offensive line & run game coordinator, 2014-15. After Penn State – offensive line, Auburn, 2016.

JIM HASLETT – Penn State team consultant, 2015. After Penn State – linebackers, Cincinnati Bengals, 2016.

STAN HIXON – Penn State assistant head coach & wide receivers, 2012-13. After Penn State – wide receivers, Houston Texans, NFL, 2014-15; fired after 2015 season.

CHARLES HUFF – Penn State running backs & special teams coordinator, 2014-16.

LARRY JOHNSON SR. – Penn State defensive line (& co-defensive coordinator, 2011, 4 games), 2011-13; Penn State interim head coach, January 2014. After Penn State – assistant head coach & defensive line, Ohio State, 2014-15.

BILL KAVANAUGH – Penn State wide receivers, 2011 (4 games); director of player personnel (non-coaching), 2012-13. After Penn State – head coach, Bentley University.

BILL KENNEY – Penn State offensive tackles & tight ends, 2011. After Penn State – offensive tackles & tight ends, Western Michigan, 2013-15; lawsuit against Penn State pending.

MATT LIMEGROVER – Penn State offensive line, 2016.

CHARLES LONDON – Penn State running backs & recruiting coordinator, 2012-13. After Penn State – running backs, Houston Texans, NFL, 2014-15.

MIKE McQUEARY – Penn State wide receivers & recruiting coordinator, 2011 (on leave final 4 games). After Penn State – out of coaching; lawsuit against Penn State pending.

MAC McWHORTER – Penn State offensive line, 2012-13. After Penn State – retired.

ANTHONY MIDGET – Penn State safeties, 2013. After Penn State – secondary, Houston Texans, NFL, 2014-15.

JOE MOORHEAD – Penn State offensive coordinator & quarterbacks, 2016.

BILL O’BRIEN – Penn State offensive coordinator & head coach, 2012-2013. After Penn State head coach, Houston Texans, NFL, 2014-15.

JAY PATERNO – Penn State quarterbacks, 2011. After Penn State out of coaching; author & entrepreneur, State College; lawsuit against Penn State pending.

JOE PATERNO – Penn State head coach, 2011 (9 games). Passed away on Jan. 22, 2012.

BRENT PRY – Penn State assistant head coach, linebackers & co-defensive coordinator, 2014-15; Penn State associate head coach, linebackers & defensive coordinator, 2016.

RICKY RAHNE – Penn State quarterbacks & passing game coordinator, 2014-15; tight ends & passing game coordinator, 2016.

ELIJAH ROBINSON – Penn State assistant defensive line, 2011 (4 games); Penn State director of player development (non-coaching), 2012-13. After Penn State defensive line, Temple, 2014-15.

TED ROOF – Penn State defensive coordinator, 2012. After Penn State defensive coordinator, Georgia Tech, 2013-2015.

BOB SHOOP – Penn State defensive coordinator & safeties, 2014-15. After Penn State defensive coordinator, Tennessee, 2016.

TERRY SMITH – Penn State cornerbacks & defensive recruiting coordinator, 2014-15; Penn State assistant head coach, cornerbacks & defensive recruiting coordinator, 2016.

SEAN SPENCER – Penn State defensive line, 2014-15; Penn State defensive line & run game coordinator, 2016.

JOHN STROLLO – Penn State tight ends, 2012-13. After Penn State – offensive line, Ball State, 2014-15.

JOHN THOMAS – Penn State strength & conditioning coach, 2011. After Penn State senior associate director of strength & conditioning, Georgia, 2012-15; associate strength & conditioning coach, Miami (Fla.), 2016.

RON VANDERLINDEN – Penn State linebackers (& co-defensive coordinator, 2011, 4 games), 2011-13. After Penn State inside linebackers, Air Force Academy, 2014-15.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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