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Penn State Football’s Next Offensive Coordinator? The JoeMo RPO Coaching Tree Says It May Be Tyler Bowen

by on December 12, 2019 5:00 PM

Who will be Penn State’s next offensive coordinator?

The Joe Moorhead Coaching Tree says it could be Tyler Bowen.

And why not?

Bowen is just about The Last Man Standing from the superific RPO reign of Moorhead as quarterback coach and offensive coordinator at Penn State.

(Bowen is also 30. Same age as Golden Boy Joe Brady.)

The Nittany Lions rode Moorhead’s Run Pass Option offense — fueled by Trace, Saquon, Gesicki, DaeSean & Co. — to a two-year reign of terror.

Under Moorhead, now the head coach at Mississippi State, Penn State produced 22 victories (including 20 in 23 games), a Big Ten title, the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, 134 offensive touchdowns and 1,060 points.

Then, Ricky Rahne picked up the ball and ran with it. All the way to Norfolk, Virginia.

Rahne is just the latest JoeMo disciple to Run for the money and Pass gO. When you count Moorhead’s 38-13 success at Fordham from 2012-15, seemingly millions have made millions by being part of his innovative offense that charged Penn State’s football renaissance in 2016 and ’17.

It undoubtedly helped Rahne get the head coach’s job at Old Dominion.

It helped Josh Gattis get the offensive coordinator’s job at Michigan.

It helped Charles Huff get the associate head coach’s job at Alabama.

It helped Joe Brady get the pass game coordinator’s job — and, this week, the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach — at LSU.

It helped get offensive coordinator jobs for former Fordham assistant Tim Zetts at Austin Peay and former Penn State GA Tommy Galt at Assumption College. (Galt is married to PSU alum Alisa Petercuskie, whose dad Gary played for Joe Paterno in the 1970s, and is a member of the esteemed Galt clan, headed by cupcake-wielding matriarch Janice — she brings the treats to practice every week).

It helped Mark Dupuis — who was with Moorhead at UConn, then Fordham, then Penn State — get the first job on Rahne’s coaching staff at Old Dominion.

And TBH, it helped James Franklin get not one, but two big contract extensions. (Remember, before JoeMo’s arrival Penn State was 14-12 and some say James’ seat was a tad warm.) Trace Armstrong may get 3% of Franklin’s take, but maybe Joe should get moor?

Joe Moorhead is Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter and Monster.com all in one. Today’s CareerBuilder question:

Will Bowen’s history get him linkedin for Penn State’s vacancy at offensive coordinator, created when Rahne departed to the southern DMV to become a HC at ODU?

IDK. It’s not likely. But, then again, it’s possible.

Franklin has not said who will call the plays for the Nittany Lions in their Dec. 28 Cotton Bowl game against Memphis. It’s a question, though, that Franklin will address when he meets with the media next week: on Wednesday, for Signing Day, and on Friday, for the team’s bowl media day.

Rahne himself twice got such a call. In the TaxSlayer Bowl, after Franklin fired second-year offensive coordinator John Donovan the day after the 2015 regular-season finale. And again in the Fiesta Bowl, after Moorhead left for Mississippi State. (As a play-caller at PSU, Rahne was 20-7, a 74% winning clip while averaging 33.4 points per game.)

Too young? Bowen is actually 73 days older than Joe Brady. And, unlike Brady, has already been an offensive coordinator.

(Looking for the next Joe Brady? If not Bowen, then down the road try Billy Fessler. The super-savvy former PSU walk-on QB who flagged in signals from the sidelines, after a post-grad stint at Slippery Rock, has reunited with Moorhead at Mississippi State.)

Bowen has been an O-coordinator before.

Bowen cut his coaching teeth as a student and grad assistant at Maryland when Franklin was there as head-coach-in-waiting. He coached tight ends at Towson for a year, then was called to PSU by Franklin in 2014. Bowen was a GA for a year then went to Fordham when Moorhead called. In 2015, under Moorhead, Bowen coached the offensive line. Then, in 2016 after Moorhead left for Penn State, Bowen stayed.

In 2016, at the ripe old age of 27, Bowen was the offensive coordinator for Fordham. That season, the Rams led the Patriot League and ranked fourth in FCS in total offense (498.2 yards) and scoring offense (40.1 points). Fordham also led the league in rushing offense (229.7), which was 12th in the FCS. In 2017, Bowen went to Maryland, his alma mater, as the O-line coach. And in 2018, he came to Penn State to coach the tight ends and serve as offensive recruiting coordinator.

Those who know Bowen say that his influence on the Penn State running game the past two years has been substantial. That vision may need to be 2020 next season, especially if KJ Hamler departs for the NFL and the Penn State staff is intent on figuring out how to maximize the four-headed back named Ricky Journey Cain Ford.

Conventional wisdom has Franklin hiring an outside coach, to serve as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach (who would be Penn State’s third in four seasons). Of course, Franklin has said he likes to go by the book two ways: One, when making on-the-field decisions. And two, off-the-field, as he says he keeps notebook at the ready, filled with the names of potential future hires. Maybe Penn State’s O-coordinator is the latter.

Speaking of that staff, remember these tidbits as Franklin adds another coach to the offensive unit:

— Penn State running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider was a former college quarterback himself. And a darn good one, too. At Florida A&M, he won the Doug Williams Award for national offensive player of the year and the Jake Gaither Award — the Heisman for Historically Black Colleges — in an All-American season when he threw for 2,512 yards and 27 TDs in 1999. In the subsequent 2000 NFL Draft, Seider was picked No. 205 by the San Diego Chargers — six spots behind another QB, a guy named Tom Brady. Seider coached QBs and was a coordinator in the highly competitive world of Florida high school football.

— O-line coach Matt Limegrover was hired by Franklin in 2016 at the very strong behest of Moorhead, a fellow Pittsburgher. Limegrover was an offensive coordinator for 13 collegiate seasons, at Southern Illinois (2001-07), Northern Illinois (2008-10) and Minnesota (2011-13). However: During the 2019 season, Limegrover did say he has no aspirations of becoming an O-coordinator again. 

An idea, though the more I think about it the more I may be burying the lead:

Maybe Franklin is considering hiring from within and having co-offensive coordinators, in the persons of Bowen and Seider.

Bowen knows the run game inside and out, and Seider the former quarterback could assume the passing game mantle and maybe even coach the QBs. It would be the kinda move that Franklin likes: Reward staff loyalty, maintain consistency for the players, give two assistants the chance to stretch their legs, and position both of them for a promotion, while at the same time providing Bowen and Seider an opportunity to get closer to their own offensive shows and, potentially, their own head coaching gigs. All the while Limegrover, the old hand, is there to help.

THE MOORHEAD COACHING TREE

Joe Moorhead’s stock has paid dividends. Here’s a look at some of the assistants who learned the RPO from JoeMo (and vice versa), and where they are now:

FORDHAM

Andrew Breiner, QBs, Mississippi State

Shane Fogarty, RB, Fordham

Ian Pace, QC, Mississippi State

Joel Rodriguez, QC, Miami

Tim Zetts, OC, Austin Peay

 

FORDHAM & PENN STATE

Tyler Bowen, TE, Penn State

Mark Dupuis, Off, Old Dominion

Kevin Reihner, GA, Penn State

Will Reimann, analyst, Mississippi State

 

PENN STATE

Joe Brady, pass game coordinator, LSU

Kirk Campbell, analyst, Penn State

Sean Cascarano, OL, Cornell

Tommy Galt, OC, Assumption

Josh Gattis, offensive coordinator, Michigan

Charles Huff, associate head coach, Alabama

Ricky Rahne, head coach, Old Dominion



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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