Whoever James Franklin hires to be Penn State’s next offensive coordinator, his impact won’t be felt immediately.
The Nittany Lions’ second-year head coach made that much clear Sunday, when he announced quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne would be the one handling the coordinator’s duties in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl against Georgia in Jacksonville. It will be Rahne formulating the game plan, calling the plays, serving as the point man for Penn State’s significant offensive decisions in place of the fired John Donovan.
But Franklin didn’t exactly shy away from the thought that getting Donovan’s full-time replacement to Happy Valley long before the bowl game starts is the biggest step toward getting the offense toward where he wants it to be.
“If we can get somebody in place to evaluate players, to be around the staff, so right after the bowl game, he can jump right in from day one to improve the offense, that’s important,” Franklin said.
Few details have been made public about the specifics of Penn State’s search as far as targets go. But, Franklin has made a few points known. For starters, he wants somebody in place at some point within the next two weeks, and it won’t be someone on the staff, which eliminates Rahne and offensive line coach Herb Hand, the only member of the staff outside of Franklin who has experience as an offensive coordinator.
On several occasions throughout the past two seasons, Franklin has mentioned he has compiled a list of coaches who could help Penn State and work well with the rest of the staff. But he acknowledged that list has expanded since the Donovan firing.
“When you have a position like this, a lot of people you didn’t know would be available become available, and then your phone rings off the hook,” Franklin said.
Ultimately, Franklin said he envisions the next coordinator in place within the next two weeks, spending time evaluating current players leading up to the bowl game and preparing for the start of a new era of offense in 2016. What he doesn’t see him being is much more than an advisor to what will happen in the Taxslayer Bowl.
Putting in an entirely new system before the game, he added, is hardly realistic.
What is realistic, though, is giving the team and the rest of the staff a sense that the program is moving forward, that there will be no unfinished business from the 2015 season once the season is history.
“It’s important for players not to have that in the back of their minds. It really allows them to be focused on the game, not concerned or distracted about what the future holds,” Franklin said. “And to be honest, it’s the same with me. As a coach, you always have 25 things on your desk that you have to do. As long as we can find the right person, and make the right hire, the sooner I can get that off my desk, the better. It’s an important position for us, obviously.”