Column: Who should PSU's next offensive coordinator be?
UNIVERSITY PARK – The Joe Moorhead story is somewhat amazing when you think about it.
In a relatively short span of time, Moorhead went from head coach at Fordham to offensive coordinator at Penn State to head coach at Mississippi State.
Now, head coach James Franklin is faced with the daunting task of trying to replace Moorhead.
It certainly won’t be easy.
There are some excellent candidates out there – both in-house and around the country.
Let’s take a look at our top 5:
Andrew Breiner (current Fordham coach) – Breiner is the dark horse candidate, that’s for sure. Breiner was Joe Moorhead’s OC at Fordham before getting promoted to head coach. He could truly follow in Moorhead’s footsteps and move into the OC role in Happy Valley.
As a student of Moorhead, Breiner knows the offense. Side note: Breiner is a graduate of Lock Haven University, so he knows the passion fans around here have and PSU likely wouldn’t have to break the bank to get him.
Downside: Fordham went 4-7 this season, not exactly Moorhead numbers, who went 38-13 during his time there.
Mark Helfrich (former Oregon head coach) – Who knows if Helfrich would even consider a coordinator job? Sure, Helfrich flamed out at Oregon, but the cupboard was pretty bare when he took over.
He's a class guy who has experience at Power-5 program and we’re guessing that with a few tweaks here and there, the Nittany Lion offense wouldn’t miss a beat.
He'd have to deal with black shoes and basic blues instead of the flash of Oregon. Nonetheless, would be a great fit in Happy Valley.
Jim McElwain (former Florida head coach) – OK, so McElwain flopped at Florida, but he’s had great success as an offensive coordinator, most notably under Nick Saban at Alabama. McElwain also did a nice job as a head coach at Colorado State, racking up a record of 22-16 over three seasons. At Florida, McElwain struggled to a 3-4 record this season before being relieved of his coaching duties. Still, he’s a great OC. The question is: Would he check his ego at the door to take a coordinator job? McElwain certainly wouldn’t come cheap.
Ricky Rahne (current Penn State TE coach and passing game coordinator) – This seems like the most natural choice. Rahne has worked with Franklin for a long time. They worked together at Kansas State (2006-07) and Rahne joined Franklin’s staff at Vanderbilt in 2011. In 2014, Rahne followed Franklin to Happy Valley.
Rahne has never been an offensive coordinator, but he does have experience calling plays – he was the OC for Penn State’s loss in the 2016 TaxSlayer.com Bowl. It’s always dangerous to promote from within because it seems a bit lazy to the outside world, but Rahne would be a good bet because he and Franklin know each other so well.
Also, there’s something to be said for loyalty.
Mike Yurich (current Oklahoma State offensive coordinator) – A true longshot.
Yurich has made the Oklahoma State offense click like a well-oiled machine in 2017. It averaged 578.9 yards per game. He loves to throw the football and his play-calling has propelled the Cowboy offense to great heights with quarterback Mason Rudolph and wideout James Washington. Could he duplicate that success in Happy Valley? With Trace McSorley and Tommy Stephens running his offense? Our guess is yes.
Well, there’s our top five. As far as predictions go, here they are:
The hire will be: Rahne.
The hire should be: Helfrich.