Thursday, January 12, 2012
Penn State announces six assistant hires
By Adam Rittenberg
Penn State made it official Thursday and announced the hires of six assistant coaches on Bill O'Brien's staff.
All of these names have been previously reported, but here they are again:
- Larry Johnson, defensive line
- Ron Vanderlinden, linebackers
- Stan Hixon, assistant head coach/wide receivers
- Charles London, running backs
- Mac McWhorter, offensive line
- John Strollo, tight ends
O'Brien has three more positions to fill: defensive coordinator, secondary coach and quarterbacks coach. Central Florida defensive coordinator Ted Roof confirmed in a text message to ESPN.com on Monday that he's taking the Penn State defensive coordinator spot. South Carolina assistant John Butler reportedly is heading to State College, likely to take the secondary coach spot.
New England Patriots offensive assistant George Godsey reportedly will take the quarterbacks coach role. Godsey worked directly with O'Brien in New England during the 2011 season and played for O'Brien at Georgia Tech.
O'Brien definitely went with familiarity in his hires, as he worked alongside London, McWhorter, Strollo and Roof as an assistant at Georgia Tech and/or Duke. There's also a decent mix of college and NFL experience, as O'Brien promised.
It's definitely a veteran staff, as London, Godsey and Butler are the only assistants who logged some playing time in the recent past.
I like the retention of both Johnson and Vanderlinden, who are great at what they do. Roof's appointment has sparked some angst among Penn State fans, but he did good work at Minnesota and will have good position coaches working under him.
It'll be interesting to see how things go with O'Brien as the offensive play-caller, at least for Year 1. A lot of folks will make the Charlie Weis comparisons, which are a little unfair. It's important to point out that while Weis ultimately failed at Notre Dame, his offenses certainly didn't in 2005 and 2006. My preference is defensive-minded coaches who delegate play-calling to their coordinators, but there are offense-minded coaches who call their own plays and have success (i.e. Bobby Petrino).
"I said last weekend we were going to put together the best staff for Penn State and I firmly believe we have done that," O'Brien said in a prepared statement. "It was crucial to get an experienced, passionate and enthusiastic staff together quickly so they can hit the ground running. All of these coaches have varied and successful backgrounds coaching in the NFL, college and high school across the country. They have developed extensive relationships with coaches that will be vital in our recruiting efforts. They are excited to meet our current players, get on the road and become part of the Penn State football family."
What are your thoughts on the staff?