Joe Moorhead left Penn State after two seasons to become the head coach at Mississippi State, leaving the Lions without an offensive coordinator.
Head coach James Franklin keeps a dossier of candidates ready even before assistants leave, so he’s prepared for such occasions.
Who might be on his radar for offensive coordinator? Here are a few possible names, two in-house and two others with Lehigh Valley connections.
Ricky Rahne: When former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop left for Tennessee in 2016, Franklin wasted little time in promoting linebackers coach Brent Pry to coordinator. This situation has a similar feel.
Rahne, who has coached quarterbacks and tight ends at Penn State, has known Franklin since 2006, when he worked as a graduate assistant for Franklin at Kansas State. Rahne joined Franklin’s staff at Vanderbilt as quarterbacks coach and has been with him since.
In 2015, after firing John Donovan as offensive coordinator, Franklin gave Rahne the interim title for the TaxSlayer Bowl. If Rahne isn’t promoted immediately, he’s the likely candidate to serve as interim coordinator for Penn State’s upcoming bowl game.
“I want to surround myself with really smart guys. Ricky is a really smart guy,” Franklin said before the season. “… I think he’s a future coordinator. He’s been fiercely loyal, he’s a relentless recruiter, he gets it. He’s a team guy. He doesn’t care who gets the credit.”
This would be a good time to promote Rahne, who also is Penn State’s passing game coordinator. He spent two years in Moorhead’s offense, is comfortable coaching the system and would make for a smooth transition.
Further, Rahne is into the design-and-draw components of coaching more than the politics and psychology.
“I don’t have any aspirations to be a head coach,” Rahne said earlier this season. “You just don’t get to coach as much ball.”
Matt Limegrover: When Minnesota made staff changes in 2015, Franklin jumped at the chance to hire Limegrover, a Pittsburgh Central Catholic graduate like Moorhead, as his offensive line coach. Since then, Limegrover has appreciated having his responsibilities streamlined.
Limegrover spent five years as offensive coordinator and line coach at Minnesota, a task he called wearying. He wanted to wear one hat, an opportunity Penn State afforded.
Now, Limegrover has options. If interested, he could try becoming a coordinator again and cede the line-coaching position to a new hire. He also could join Moorhead’s staff in Starkville. Or Limegrover could remain right where he is.
Andrew Breiner: Could Franklin return to Fordham, from where he hired Moorhead, for another coordinator? Breiner was Moorhead’s offensive coordinator for four years before taking over as head coach in 2016 after Moorhead left for Penn State.
Breiner’s offense was down a bit in 2017, averaging 21.7 points in a 4-7 campaign, but he has a great feel for Moorhead’s system. He was on Moorhead’s staff at Connecticut and helped him implement his offense at Fordham.
Breiner also has some deep ties to the Lehigh Valley. His parents are from Easton (though Breiner played high school football in Hershey) and his grandfather had a dental practice in Easton.
Tim Cramsey: The former (Allentown) Central Catholic quarterback has directed high-scoring offenses in the FCS and FBS. He currently works for Emmaus High graduate K.C. Keeler at Sam Houston State, which went 10-1 and is in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Cramsey’s offense averaged 45.9 points and 544.6 yards per game this season. He has a broad range of experience, coaching at New Hampshire, Florida International, Montana State and Nevada.
At New Hampshire, Cramsey worked with UCLA (and former Philadelphia Eagles) head coach Chip Kelly, which was a major selling point in Keeler’s decision to hire him.
“I coached against Tim when I was at Delaware and I always thought those teams were tremendously coached," Keeler said earlier this year. "I love that he had direct experience with Chip Kelly [at New Hampshire] and playing fast.”