Staff changes are not always a bad thing.
They can mark an improvement, and they can also sustain recent success while bringing a new perspective to the coaching room. They’re also pretty normal. The days of a college football staff staying together for decades are over, now a much more fluid business, one where change can be an indicator of success as much as an indication of struggle.
But either way, it presents a challenge.
And that challenge is a fairly simply one, something universal no matter where you go: Getting the new guy up to speed.
For Penn State that means extra time for new receivers coach Gerad Parker and special teams coordinator Joe Lorig. They've got to learn everything, from where in the world the bathrooms are to how team meetings are run to what James Franklin is expecting from them.
Like everything, it's a process. For each coach that process is a little different, one learning a system, the other implementing his own.
"Coming into spring we had our normal install meetings like we have and cut-ups and I know Ricky [Rahne] and coach Parker would stay each night for an hour or so and go through things a little bit in more detail," Franklin said following practice earlier this spring.
"That's been helpful, and from a special teams perspective, it's not like Joe is coming in and learning how we've done special teams, although there are a lot of parallels of how we've done it over the last eight years, a lot of similarities between me and him. He's coming in to install, so that's a little bit different. He's just getting more comfortable with our organizational structure."
Of course getting used to the new office isn't the only challenge coaches have to face. Parker in particular is tasked with once again earning the trust of the players under him. For guys like KJ Hamler, it has been a long road of new names to learn over and over again.
First it was Josh Gattis, then it was David Corley, and now it's Gerad Parker. Where the defensive coordinator position was once the ever-changing role between the Joe Paterno, Bill O'Brien and James Franklin eras, now it's receivers who have to carry the most recent load of a new face every 12 months.
“I’m going through my third coach, so that’s when the trust issue factor comes in,” Hamler said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s my third coach, so can I trust you? I got real bad trust issues.”
But Hamler knows he won't have long to acclimate. His teammates need him. Once the star of the future, that future has arrived, and Hamler is the star of right now.
“It’s weird going from a rookie to a vet real quick. But I have to play that role. I have to step in for the young guys,” Hamler said. “Last year was my first year playing, but I probably have the most experience."
Welcome to the big show.