Monday, January 6, 2014
8 staff members leaving Penn State
By Josh Moyer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Eight Penn State staff members submitted their resignations Monday, and now only three coaches remain on staff.
Among those who left include defensive coordinator John Butler, running backs coach Charles London, wide receivers coach Stan Hixon, safeties coach Anthony Midget and strength coach Craig Fitzgerald.
With the announcement of a new head coach possibly just days away, the movement wasn't considered much of a surprise. Many of those assistants followed former coach Bill O'Brien to Happy Valley, and there was no guarantee they would've kept their jobs had they stayed at Penn State anyway.
Hixon and London were seen as locks to join O'Brien, and O'Brien was forced to defend Butler at several points during the season from "Fire him" criticism. But there was one staff member here whom players most hoped to see back, and one departure that hurt the most -- Fitzgerald, the strength coach.
For those unfamiliar with the Nittany Lions' program, that might come as a surprise. But likely not to PSU fans. Former and current players lamented the loss on Twitter.
He was a fan favorite who wore his trademark shorts and T-shirt during snow squalls and below-freezing temperatures. He'd perform the worm during pregame routines and once, players said, licked the gym floor to fire his team up. So, yeah, maybe the guy was a bit crazy. But in a good way. He was beloved by the team, and he helped improve a weight room that was widely believed to be in need of a makeover. He also aided tight end Garry Gilliam in transitioning to right tackle, as he gained about 40 pounds in seven months' time.
Larry Johnson is the interim head coach now, and he's guiding a bare-bones staff of just two others: TE coach John Strollo and OL coach Mac McWhorter. They'll be charged with keeping this recruiting class together until a new head coach comes along.
This staff could have a whole new look in a week's time; it just received its first official change since O'Brien's departure on Monday afternoon.