This can be another one of those columns that throws a million numbers at fans, explaining statistically why Joe Moorhead’s offenses over the years at Akron and Connecticut and most recently at Fordham have been more successful than John Donovan’s at Vanderbilt and Penn State.
But if Penn State and head coach James Franklin hired Moorhead on Saturday as its next offensive coordinator because of the statistics he piled up at an FCS school, or at Akron or UConn, then shame on them.
Of course, it’s safe to assume they didn’t.
“It’s not the Xs and the Os,” former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley used to say, “it’s the Jimmys and the Joes” that matter most to coaches. That quote ends up in this column quite often because it’s so true. Mediocre coaches can look great when their players are outstanding. Smart, talented, thoughtful coaches can look pedestrian when they don’t have the horses to run the race. Penn State fans shouldn’t pretend they have the requisite first-hand knowledge yet to say for sure whether Moorhead will be a transitional figure for the program or just another assistant who couldn’t overcome the obstacles that befell Donovan, his predecessor.
Good coordinators, though, are ones who can effectively teach a fun system that has been proven successful and easy to learn. That makes Moorhead potentially a very good, solid hire for Franklin.
Not sure if Franklin used this correlation as a measuring stick, but it does help anyone familiar with what Penn State did on offense under Donovan that the Nittany Lions and Fordham both had Army as a common opponent this season.
In fairness to Donovan, Penn State played the Black Knights in a driving rainstorm at Beaver Stadium in October, while Moorhead’s Rams faced them on a beautiful upstate New York night in early September in the season opener. But there was no comparison between how Fordham and Penn State attacked the Army defense.
Fordham scored 37 points. Penn State scored 20.