Penn State has something only 21 other teams have; how do they keep it?
Penn State corners coach Terry Smith (left) and line coach Sean Spencer (right) shown with AD Sandy Barbour. Both have been at PSU for three seasons, while the whole staff has bene together for only two.
Coachingsearch.com, a website that serves as an industry insider for the football coaching world, published some interesting data earlier this week related to staff continuity.
It may seem odd to realize that only four FBS programs will have the same coaching staff this year for the third year in a row, and perhaps it’s even more hard to believe that, according to Coaching Search, only 17 schools can say that they have kept their staff together for two straight seasons. One of the schools in that group is Penn State.
The surprise is mostly nullified, though, when one pauses to realize that changes are happening seemingly more often than ever on college football sidelines, as money has opened doors for coaches to move up quicker than perhaps they have in the past. It all leads to a large game of musical chairs, then, with smaller school coordinators moving to bigger schools as position coaches, leading position coaches at bigger schools to snap up coordinator jobs at smaller schools as resume builders, for example.
Of course, there are many more cases to point out to show how the coaching carousel turns, and with the coming addition of a 10th assistant coach in January 2018, the number of broken up staffs is only going to increase year over year.
Knowing Penn State head coach James Franklin, a man of routine and habit, one can only assume he’d prefer to keep his staff together as long as possible. That said, he also realizes it’s next to impossible, which is why he always speaks of having a list ready to go if a new hire needs to be made.
Yet, he’d prefer not to make one, and that’s where retainment strategies, employed by both him and the athletic department headed by Sandy Barbour, come into play.
“I think it’s a challenge, it always is,” Franklin told reporters at the Coaches Caravan event in Hazleton according to video provided by Penn State Athletics. “I think that’s one of the things that’s been a focus point for me my entire career as a head coach is, what can we do to continue to develop our players and put our players in position to be successful in every area, and we have the support for the coaches and that financially so we’re able to take care of them as best as we possibly can?”
The two do not always see eye to eye, as money spent here means money cannot be spent there.
That said, money doesn’t always have to be a factor, but then again, it’s the first thing that usually comes up when fans and media begin to discuss, say, how to keep offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead around for awhile.
It’s a constant push and pull, one that will continue to play a large role in the consistency of coaching staffs at Penn State and across the country.
“I don’t think we need to be in a position where we’re the highest paid staff in the country, but we have to have an understanding of what the market demands, and then we have to be fair to people and fair to Penn State,” Franklin continued. “At the end of the day I think we realize finances matter, but it’s not the end all be all. People want to be at a place they feel comfortable, respected, and appreciated. If it just comes down to money, then I think you’re always going to be in a tough spot.
“There’s always somebody out there that’s willing to push the needle, so for us we want to be fair to people, but then we also want to have all of the other things in place that they feel this is the best situation for them and their families.”