Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Last College Football Head Coach

When Bill O'Brien left PSU last week for the NFL's Houston Texans, it marked the second time in two years that Nittany Lions are searching for a new head football coach.  From 1950 until 2011, Penn State were only led by Rip Engle and Joe Paterno. They were the only two head coaches most of us knew.  If you count the interims, the Lions will be on 5th head coach in 26 months.  For now, it is "Nervous Valley" for Happy Valley, but not for the rest of us.

Like it or not, scandal or no scandal, the stability at Penn State over the last half century was living on borrowed time.  With the advent of the BCS, internet, conference television networks, and radio, college head coaching gigs are now approaching 6 million dollars on what we know.  Then there are other endorsements. 

As a fan of the University of Notre Dame, I would tease my PSU brethren that there are going to be some rough patches in the post-Paterno era.  When you look at coaches like the Bear, Bo, and Woody (date yourself if you know their last names and universities), all of their universities had some trouble after they left their respective post.  Alabama has won 4 titles without the Bear, Ohio State and Michigan each have 1 title without Woody and Bo. 

The last few days have yielded the hiring of James Franklin for the Nittany Lions and the departure of Larry Johnson.  Johnson was the last coaching link to the Paterno era at Penn State.

I would ask Penn State fans to look at the Red River rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas.  Bob Stoups and Mack Brown only have one year separating them in years of service at their respective schools.  Brown has one more year at Texas and has decided to step down.  Even with a national championship in 2005, he is referred to as "Mr. February" in some parts.  Stoops also has one championship plus is only 53 years old.  He has been mentioned for some job both NFL and college, but has not been the white hot candidates that Franklin and O'Brien have been.

No one how a playoff system and monopoly money with effect coaching staff and universities in the future, but the landscape is about to change once again.  My advice to Penn State fans is this:

  1. Joe Paterno was the last of the great coaches in a wonderful time of college football.  Appreciate and savor it.  His time at State College built the university (A trial in the future may have an effect good or bad on his lasting legacy.)
  2. Don't worry about statue.
  3. A playoff system will help the game in the long run.
  4. 2014 will be a trying one with only 10 seniors, the Lions are still young.  With that in mind and the recruits on the way, the Nittany Lions will survive the sanctions more than people thought.
  5. Franklin is Pennsylvania guy.
  6. He played college football in the Poconos and could relate to recruits what is like being from an urban area and life in central PA.
  7. Franklin is 0-0.
  8. He is 2 years away from being 15-9 or 9-15 where he might be judged with greater scrutiny.
  9. Franklin has two young daughters which would help him staying put for awhile. 
  10. Franklin will make sure Beaver Stadium is full in 2014 and beyond.
Head football coaches are kind of like Supreme Court Justices, Popes and Presidents.  You don't know where your getting until they step into the command chair.  Stay tuned.

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