James Franklin is in a bit of a pickle. He currently has a puzzle to solve for 2024. Two, at least.

Right now, at least publicly, the Penn State head coach is without a defensive coordinator for next season. And, it seems, a quarterback coach.

That’s what happens when your D-coordinator leaves for the head coach’s position at Duke. And you have already replaced the O-coordinator/quarterback coach that you fired with an O-coordinator who has never coached quarterbacks.

(It’s not as bad as January 2018, when Franklin hired David Corley to be his running backs coach. Then, after Josh Gattis left for Alabama two weeks later, he hired Ja’Juan Seider for the RB job, necessitating Corley move to WR coach. That didn’t work out very well, as Franklin fired Corley mere hours after the ‘18 season ended.)

The answer(s) to the current puzzle may come in part on Friday, when Franklin meets the press in Beaver Stadium as part of the team’s as part of Penn State pre-Peach Bowl “local media day.”

On the docket for Friday are:

• Franklin first.

• Followed by a session when the “Penn State coordinators will be available for approximately 10 minutes each, in the Beaver Stadium press room.” That will likely include Ja’Juan Seider and Tyle Howle, who were the interim O-coordinators for Penn State’s games vs. Rutgers and Michigan State after Yurcich was fired Nov. 12, the day after the Nittany Lions lost 25-15 to Michigan. They’ll continue in those dual roles vs. Ole Miss on Dec. 30.

The session will also likely include an appearance as interim defensive coordinator by safeties coach Anthony Poindexter, who has held the title of co-DC since he was hired in 2021. But, TBH, Brent Pry was the play-calling DC in 2021 and Manny Diaz did magnificently in the same role the past two years. Possibly, maybe, Franklin will also name associate head coach/CB coach Terry Smith, as a co-coordinator for the Peach Bowl.

Poindexter, who was the co-DC at Purdue in 2017-20 and defensive coordinator at UConn in 2014-16, is the leading internal candidate to succeed Diaz.

In a for-the-cameras event on Monday with AD Pat Kraft and Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan, Franklin hinted he’d have more news to share on Friday. “I’ll get into more specifics,” Franklin said, “as we get together again.”

• Then on Friday, new OC Andy Kotelnicki will meet the Penn State press for the first time since he was hired away from Kansas on Dec. 1.


Here is part of Franklin’s challenge: Programs have been permitted to have 10 full-time assistants on staff, since the number was bumped up in 2018. Right now, with the addition of Kotelnicki, Franklin has nine full-time assistant coaches. And, there are those two vacancies — the D-coordinator and QB coach.

Since Yurcich was fired, grad assistant Danny O’Brien has been serving as the de facto quarterback coach. But, it is very unlikely that he’ll continue in that role after the bowl game. Maybe Kotelnicki will coach the QBs — headed by starter Drew Allar — come the new year. Maybe not.

And if Poindexter ascends to the defensive coordinator role, he could also stick with the safeties. But the linebacker coaching spot would be vacant. Which one does Franklin fill by an additional full-time hire — a quarterback coach or a LB coach? (Diaz and Pry were both DC and LB coach.)

Then there is the Stacy Collins wild card. Collins is the Nittany Lions special teams coach. He also assisted Diaz with the linebackers and is listed as in charge of coaching the nickel backs. Collins coached linebackers at several of stops prior to Penn State — Western Oregon, Western Washington, Idaho State, Central Washington and Utah State — so he is well-versed in that spot. But, would Franklin, who proudly calls Collins the “head coach of special teams,” also task him with being the head prof at Linebacker U?


Franklin frequently mentions how he benchmarks Penn State vs. other top-flight college football programs. He no doubt has looked at how the four teams in the College Football Playoff utilize their 10 assistant coaches’ spots.

As outlined below, the four finalists evenly divide their assistants — five on offense, five on defense. Three of the four teams have their special teams coaches double-up with a position on defense, be it outside linebacker, safeties or edge rushers. Only Texas has its special teams leader also coach on offense (at tight end).

Here’s how those schools — a combined 50-2 in the 2023 season — plus Penn State as it stands now, divide their assistant coaches’ duties.

Offense (5) — OC/QB, OL, TE, WR, RB
Defense (5) — DC, DL, ILB, CB, OLB/ST

Offense (5) — OC/OL, QB, TE, WR, RB
Defense (5) — DC, DL, LB, DB, S/ST

Offense (5) — OC/OL, QB, WR, RB, TE/ST
Defense (5) — DC/OLB, DL, ILB, Secondary, S

Offense (5) — OC/QB, OL, TE, WR, RB
Defense (5) — DC, DL, S, CB, Edge/ST

Penn State (2024)
Offense (5) — OC, OL, TE, WR, RB
Defense (4-5) — DC (tba), DL, LB (tba), S, CB
Special Teams (1) — ST/OLB/Nickels


Traditionally, Franklin has had more assistants on offense than on defense at Penn State. From 2014-17, he had five on offense and four on defense. In that time span, running backs coach Charles Huff did double-duty with special teams, with an assist from Gattis.

And, when the NCAA OK’d the addition of a 10th assistant, Franklin used the extra slot to hire an assistant to be used mostly for special teams — first, Phil Galiano, then Joe Lorig and for the past two seasons, Collins. In 2023, Collins did an outstanding job with a special units corps that opened the season with myriad concerns.

Kotelnicki will be Franklin’s sixth hire at offensive coordinator in 11 seasons. Whoever Franklin hires as defensive coordinator for 2024 will be his fourth DC since coming to Penn State in 2014. It’s likely that he’ll never see the incredibly stable days of 2014-2019 again, when the Nittany Lions had only one personnel change on a very veteran defensive staff over the course of six seasons, when Bob Shoop left for Tennessee in 2015 and Pry was promoted to DC and Tim Banks was brought in to replace Shoop.

Here’s a look at Franklin’s coaching staff from 2014 to 2024, with some decisions/hires yet to be made for next season:


Season (#)OCQBOLWRTERB2024 (5/6)Kotelnicki?TrautweinHagansHowleSeider2023 (5)YurcichYurcichTrautweinHagansHowleSeider2021-22 (5)YurcichYurcichTrautweinStubblefieldHowleSeider2020 (5)CiarroccaCiarroccaTrautweinStubblefieldBowenSeider2019 (5)RahneRahneLimegroverParkerBowenSeider2018 (5)RahneRahneLimegroverCorleyBowenSeider2016-17 (5)MoorheadMoorheadLimegroverGattisRahneHuff2014-15 (5)DonovanRahneHandGattisRahneHuff


Season (#)DCLBDLSAFCB2024 (4/5)??BarnesPoindexterSmith2023 (4)DiazDiazBarnesPoindexterSmith2022 (4)DiazDiazScottPoindexterSmith2021 (4)PryPryScottPoindexterSmith2020 (4)PryPryScottBanksSmith2016-19 (4)PryPrySpencerBanksSmith2014-15 (4)ShoopPrySpencerShoopSmith


SeasonFull-timePart-time/full position coach2024Collins2022-23Collins2019-21Lorig2018Galiano2014-17Huff (running backs)

The post Will James Franklin Reveal His Penn State D-Coordinator and QB Coach Puzzle Pieces on Friday?  appeared first on StateCollege.com.

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